- ]irby's work does remind you that there's magic to be found In the landscapes of New Mexico. Perhaps that's not too surprising given a childhood spent in Kiruna, Sweden, where the sun didn't rise for one month, didn't set for another and winter lasted all of nine months. "It was very white and very cold and very,strange. But still, in the autumn months the colors were beautiful, and that's when the painters would come up to our region to paint. People loved and respected the artist in my hometown, and there was a romanticism about them that I found appealing. I decided very early that I was going to be a painter. I realize now that all children are artists...the challenge to remaining an artist is to keep your sense of self-creativity."
- Jirby has worked as an artist in Greece, Italy, France and New York. She doesn't consider herself formally trained, although she studied art in Europe at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and later enjoyed private studies with Luis Orozco, a Mexican art teacher in Mykonos, Greece. "Mykonos was the pearl of the world," Jirby recalled with a smile. "That was in its pretourist days.
- "Orozco taught me to avoid academic painting. In avoiding formal training, I took a shortcut. I learned that the important thing for me was to keep the feeling of my paintings. That's what I call it, 'feeling' paintings, not 'thinking' paintings." Jirby said she has been fortunate enough to live in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and to that end New Mexico fits the bill. She moved to Santa Fe in 1982 and later relocated to Pilar. In 1996 she moved to Taos, where she opened up a two- room guesthouse in a 200-year-old adobe com- pound adjacent to her studio on Ledoux Street. "I've created my own little world there," she said. "A world I can have some control over." She likes to paint outdoors and on the spot, often sketching the landscape first. Sometimes she experiments with a watercolor draft before committing oil to canvas. "I hate being crammed inside," she said. "When I work outdoors, I find I move much faster. I jump right past the thinking process into the creative process. I have an amazing easel that will handle any canvas. It beats the wind." Jirby's detail-oriented pieces give the viewer a lot to survey, and as beautiful as Northern New Mexico is, it probably never looked as good as Jirby paints it. As for her interior shots, you'll probably wish your walls looked so blue or red.
- Form, color, composition and surface texture are important to her when she works. She's probably a better technical painter than she gives herself credit for, but at the same time you get the sense she is unencumbered by convention or rules.
- While her primary focus is landscapes, Jirby sometimes does interior shots and occasionally peoples her paintings with human figures. Recently, she's segued into still lifes of flowers and vases and such.
- She paints Apodaca, Dixon, Pilar, Taos, the street she lives on, her casitas and anything that strikes her with inspiration. She's still amazed that she's made a living by being an artist for some 40 years.
- "I paint for myself," she said. "It's the highest form of expression for myself. People happen to like it. I strike a chord within them. That's a gift and a stroke of luck.
- When you think about it, you might ask, 'What purpose do these landscapes serve?' I think they open up a hole in the wall to another reality. They take us beyond our dwellings."
- Asked if she'd ever had to work any sort of day job to survive, Jirby laughed. "A day job? I probably would have been fired after one day," she said. "I have to be creative." ~