Pat Jeffers was a successful university administrator when she decided to quit her job to become a basket weaver.
She had never made a basket in her life.
Before her epiphany came, Jeffers believed she had no talent or interest in art until she had the opportunity to watch a basket maker wicker weave a basket.
“It’s like a switch flipped on and I knew this was what I wanted to do,” said Jeffers, grateful her husband hadn’t laughed at her or tried to dissuade her from the life-changing decision.
Jeffers immediately gathered supplies and book, and within a couple of months had learned the basics of basket weaving.
The university administrator-turned-basket weaver found a passion for the art medium, transforming the new venture into a 20 year career.
Jeffers began showing and selling bold, colorful wicker baskets and abstract, sinuous fiber sculptures in Virginia and Wyoming, and now in her current home in Montrose.
She made a living through art shows and galleries along the east coast from Vermont to California.
The artist has always felt connected to nature and music, and her work reflects this in the shapes and colors of the baskets.
In 2010 everything changed for Jeffers. The toll of hours and years of repetitive movements in weaving began to impact her hands. She had developed arthritis in her thumbs.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue weaving, so I had to think about what else I could do to express myself,” said Jeffers.
Jeffers looked at her love of landscapes and nature, and immediately picked up a paint brush.
She began painting in representational art, a form that represents objects or subjects based in reality. Representational art includes realism, impressionism, idealism, and stylization.
The style is also known as contemporary art.
“I found success early on in my painting journey,” said Jeffers of her start in selling her paintings through a local gallery.
Her years in being able to freely express herself through basket weaving translated into a “lyrical abstraction” in her new medium of expression.
The painter described the abstract nature of her work as involving. While her basket weaving offered a tactile sensory experience for interpreting the art’s meaning, her paintings rely on a visual experience.
With no obvious label for what a subject or object in a painting is, viewers must use their imagination to interpret what the painting represents.
Grounding is important for the artist and Jeffers tends to gravitate towards earth-toned and blue colors. Knowing this, she often challenges herself to step outside her comfort zone and choose bold, bright colors.
Oftentimes, the results surprise her.
Jeffers refers to her process as “reflecting spirit through form.”
A workshop with renowned abstractionist Gregory Botts lit a fire under Jeffers, who immediately went home with a renewed commitment to finding her artistic voice.
Jeffers aimed to convey true self-expression through abstract art.
“I realized I needed to bridge the gap between my weaving and my paintings,” Jeffers said. “I created this personal language of lines and shapes to bring out my inner thoughts and emotions, my perceptions towards life.”
The language of lines and shapes is heavily influenced by her 20 years of fiber weaving. In some ways, Jeffers still considers herself a weaver, but now it’s paint to canvas. Now it’s two-dimensional instead of three-dimensional.
From beginning to the end of each artwork, Jeffers makes sure to weave her nature-inspired rhythm and flow through everything she does.
For more of Pat Jeffers’ paintings visit https://www.patjeffers.com
Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.