Nicolette Jelen loves to create - and part of the passion for her art comes from constantly learning new techniques. Jelen can be found working in many different mediums, including metalworks, glass sculpture, illustrating, and using digital technology to enhance the dimension of her work. Learn more about her techniques below.
"The process itself has its own identity. Crafting each medium is like exploring the same concept in a different light. Each medium is a conversation - each with its own limitations and character."
- Nicolette Jelen
A giclee by Jelen is an original digital fine art print. Each piece requires a lengthy, meticulous operation starting with paintings made in her studio using traditional materials. Her abstract and minimal mixed media paintings are scanned, taken apart and reworked as digital files, then printed using archival pigment inks on a fine acid-free paper.
Drawings on Paper
Pen and ink is a timeless medium that Jelen will always love and is what first motivated her to start printmaking later in her career. As a child, the engravings in old fairy tale books moved her to imitate them. She was especially inspired by the great French engraver, Gustave Doré, and one can see his influences in her work, even today.
She is fascinated by the meditative quality of the lines and the crisscrossing that builds up the shades in her illustrations. For her, drawing is not only a journey inward to her childhood wonder, it is a way to connect with her grandfather, Miklós Bánffy, an author and visual artist in his own right. Jelen has a deep appreciation for his stories and has made it a point to share her interpretation in the same way she imitated old fairytale drawings from her childhood. Having come full-circle, she embraces coming back to her roots.
Glass Sculpture Boxes
In Jelen’s ornate yet industrial light sculptures, delicate facets of nature assemble the landscape, moving in the layers of light. Within the undeniable smoothness of industrial surfaces, she manages to juxtapose her complex and organic compositions. Jelen invites our gaze backstage, into the entrancing network of engraved structures, or rather into her secret garden.
The surrealism and dialogue between the abstract and the representational is perpetually present, overlapping the organic world of the forms of plants and trees with the man-made worlds of industrial glass and metal consisting of those elements. This duality extends into Jelen's set of sharp, mirrored surfaces which parallel the organic world she portrays.
As we see ourselves reflected in the surfaces of Jelen’s light sculptures, the gap between the world and our inner self becomes increasingly narrowed. As we see ourselves reflected in the expanded expanses of these mirrors, we are drawn through the looking glass into this new world, just as Alice was led into Wonderland.
Just as we are reflecting our own faces in a reflection of still water, it's as if we are looking at ourselves in her paintings. Nicolette's paintings are a reflection of her vision of forests and glens, skies and seas, with a love for light and forms. Her work imbues the spirit and charm of different parts of the world, including Morocco, Paris, Transylvania, Hungary, and the U.S.
Linocuts are the reverse of drawing on paper. Rather than using a black line to draw an image, linocuts involve taking off what is supposed to be white with a tool called a lino cutter. Linocuts are unique in that they are the opposite of more traditional drawings on paper that use fainter criss crosses and shadings.
Jelen enjoys this medium for its striking contrast and roughness. To create the effect, one needs to be bold and state their shapes, which takes the artist out of her comfort zone.
A monotype is an original painting on glass that is carefully run through a press by hand. It is a handmade, one of a kind print. Although it may look like a painting from afar, you get a very different effect than if you were painting on paper. The end result is an image rendered from this special transfer process.
Multiplate Copper Engraving (Mezzotint)
In both copper plate engraving and etching, the artist must meticulously press an image onto a single plate to give an impression of depth, color and form. In some of her earliest works, Jelen has layered such sheets to create the colorful images in which her ideas are impressed onto handmade paper.
The difference between copper plate engraving (etching (acid) and engraving (done by hand)):
The two may look very similar from afar, but when viewing the form up close, there are notable differences. When engraving by hand, you can visualize that there is a burr, like a wave in the sea after a boat passes through. This is the effect, especially when engraving on soft metal like copper. When you ink that engraving, the line will look fuzzy.
On the other hand, during the etching process, you cover a piece of copper with a varnish, and with a needle you expose the naked copper. Once treated with acid, the varnish disappears. You are not left with a burr, as with the engraving.
All are done on layers of colors.
Paper Light Sculptures
Paper light sculptures are a type of artwork that is created by overlaying different sheets of paper. They are closely related to Jelen’s glass light sculptures, as they both consist of different layers that create an effect of depth.
Originally started as a 3D illustration for her grandfather Miklós Bánffy's stories, she was inspired by the concept of old pop-up books that brought magic to every tale. Each page of a paper sculpture is drawn separately, cut, and layered on a hinged spine, which gives the artwork a three-dimensional look. Each sculpture is composed of about 30 to 35 unique layers. They can be lit in different ways to create unique scenes and evoke distinct emotions.