Jill Vaughn

My Work

One of my first memories of drawing was with my sister when she showed me how to color using straight lines. Later, my Dad taught me how to melt hot wax in turpentine and linseed oil to use as a wood preservative - not a very safe procedure, but this began my love of the smell of turpentine. To this day, I prefer the smell of oil to acrylic paint. While in middle school, I started drawing nudes on Saturdays at RISD. I knew then I was going to be an artist.

I began working in watercolor after starting a family. I didn’t want to asphyxiate my children with the smells of oil paint and turpentine. Watercolor taught me the importance of white space, whereas oil paint taught me about layers. Drawing taught me about intimacy, energy, and emotion. Paradoxically, black and white photography taught me about color and values. My paintings during this period reflected my “domestic bliss,” but this was not to last.

Divorce was a mid-life motivator, and in many ways, a rich source of creative material. I learned about dreamscapes, metaphor, and symbolism. I learned that art was always faithful and never lied - even when I was not able to recognize the truth. Metaphor and symbolism connected me spiritually to the environment, and collage pasted it all together.

Nature in its chaos and splendid beauty, rich in metaphor, has always been a constant theme in my art. I have always been attracted to the iridescent greens of moss in the woods, and the black silhouettes of branches on a winter white skyline. I see patterns and structure in each branch, root, and tree ring. Even at a young age, I was sensitive to the destruction of nature and felt a great loss when a tree was felled. And, as an adult, I finally was able to put that energy into my artwork. I could express my sorrow with a tender line or my anger and frustration with torn paper and ragged edges.

I get lost in the moment and become physically connected to nature when I am drawing. The feel of the pencil line; the layers of marks and torn tissue and paper; the texture of charcoal; and the smell of turpentine. The chaos around me makes total sense.


Jill Vaughn is a visual artist and painting instructor. She earned her Bachelors in Fine Art from the Rhode Island School of Design where she majored in painting with concentrations in drawing and printmaking; she earned her Masters Degree in Education with concentrations in Multiple Intelligence's from the University of Saint Josephs in Hartford. She studied independently in Rome, Italy, and exhibits actively in Connecticut and with Gallery One CT, an artist cooperative, in where she is the curator in charge of exhibitions. Her work is in numerous collections including the Pfizer Corporation, Quinnipiac College, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Middlesex Emergency Clinic, and The U.S. Trust Corporation. Ms. Vaughn was the President of the Essex Art Association and former council member. Since 1999, she has been the Art Department Head at the Oxford Academy teaching art and photography to high school students. Ms. Vaughn has also taught watercolor painting at the Wesleyan University's Green Street Art Center in Middletown.

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