The Golden Hour: the period just after sunrise or before sunset when the light is redder, more subdued, and some would say, at peak enchantment. Also: The title of painter Jenny Morgan‘s latest exhibition at RiNo’s Plus Gallery (which runs through October 18).
Morgan created the series during the dark of winter, but each piece abounds with the colors and glow of a summer sky. Most of her inspiration derived from her experience at a tribal Ayahuasca ceremony in upstate New York. “It was extremely transformative,” Morgan says. “I came back and had opened this huge part of myself. The work comes from such a deep psychological, mystical realm.” What she uncovered in herself was the seven new paintings (the majority of which have already been sold) currently hanging at Plus. (Morgan has been represented by the gallery since she was an undergrad at Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design.)
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The 32-year-old portrait painter draws people she knows who have piqued her curiosity. She photographs them, then meditatively sits in front of a canvas, internalizing the feelings and impressions that arose during the photo shoot. Those intangible reactions guide her brush into crafting abstract studies that meld the subject’s identity and Morgan’s intuitive response to them into a surreal image—she often sands down faces or blends colors—that feels as though it’s from another world. Although each oil painting is different, Morgan always looks to the eyes to ground her work. “They just feel like the most stabilizing force in the portrait,” she says. “Once I have the pupil and the highlight in, then the person feels like they’re alive in some way for me. It feels like someone’s with me, all of a sudden, instead of just a drawing or color.”
Morgan, who now lives in New York, has dabbled in other mediums but says painting comes most naturally: “I was one of those kids that drew and then just kept drawing, and I kind of knew from a young age that I wanted to be an artist. Painting is just the most innate medium for me. It makes the most sense.”