Like portals to another world, Yellena James creates colorful ecosystems that bloom on the canvas. The Portland-based artist paints amorphous flora and fauna in vibrant hues which come together to form an aquatic dreamscape.
Rather than rely on just one medium, James incorporates acrylics, gouache, as well as different inks in her work. This magical combination gives these paintings a watery depth in which some shades appear deeper and richer, while others seem more buoyant. It also helps distinguish the bodies of different plant life and their diverse textures. She explains: “In my work, I always strive to create a sense of levity on the canvas. I focus on environments that exist within alien atmospheres and forms that thrive within a diverse range of external forces.”
These works were showcased in a solo exhibition in Portland, titled Weightless. The title of the series alludes to James' process, which involves being in the moment and trusting that the painting is on the right course. “There is a moment that arises while making each piece when I can see the final steps clearly and the artwork begins to reveal itself,” James says. “In those moments, every hint of pressure dissipates. It lifts. All of it. And I am weightless.”