The Environmental Art Portfolio of Mary Jane Jessen

A mixed media painting of spawning salmonUpstream III, collage and oil paint on canvas

Mary Jane Jessen is an environmental artist based in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. In her artistic practice, Jessen addresses environmental concerns by painting and drawing the wildlife and plants in her surrounding environment, as well as in other locales.

A painting of an underwater coral formationSailfin Sculpin, oil paint on canvas

I enjoy the way that Jessen practices realism in her artworks. The artist’s paintings capture the unique look and feel of spawning salmon, seaweed, and marine birds, yet maintain a distance from strictly detailed, scientific or technical illustration. Jessen has a unique, personal style that shines in her use of visible brush marks and lighting techniques.


I particularly like the artist’s marine paintings and drawings of fish and other underwater subject matter. The deep blues and greens that Jessen uses in her backgrounds are at once stunning jewel tones and accurate representations of the colour of ocean and river depths. Even with a relatively loose hand, the artist knows exactly which details to focus on to create a clear, crisp-feeling image.

A painting of spawning salmon seen from above waterSpawn I: Road Building, plaster, asphalt, oil paint on panel

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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