Finding my darker niche. Let’s talk about authenticity.

It’s been a little while since I last blogged (except for my Arteza brush pen review earlier this week!) but it’s all for a good reason. In the last couple of months, I’ve been working very hard building my artistic style. Almost by accident, I discovered that I’m great at expressing ideas and aesthetics related to my spiritual path as a pagan woman.

Jessica Jewett, artI’ve been tapping into my spirituality to create more interesting art and touching the deeper, more authentic part of myself has resulted in more self-fulfillment. It happened because I was starting to feel my creativity dry up and that’s a dangerous thing for any artist. Part of me was starting to fall into the trap of creating what I thought people wanted instead of engaging the people who find passion in the same things I do. I thought I was simply taking time to make art that I care about without any plan for engaging people. As it turns out, I’ve engaged many more people because I’m showing more of who I am. Authenticity is what makes an artist great. I’ve found that an artist can have all the technical skills in the world, which I certainly don’t, but it won’t mean anything unless the creative process comes from a real, true place inside.

In August, I was reading about the Otherworld in ancient Irish tradition, which is (without going too deep) the old Irish interpretation of the afterlife. Ancestor worship is a big part of my spiritual tradition. I’m one of those people who enjoys visiting cemeteries – the older the better! – and I think some of the most beautiful places are where we honor our dead. That led to creating this piece. It sold within fifteen minutes of posting that it was finished and (maybe) there will come prints out of it. All because I decided to try making art that was interesting to me!

The Cemetery At Night, Jessica Jewett
The Cemetery At Night is 11×14 on mixed media paper, drawn in black charcoal, white charcoal, and graphite pencil.

Is it perfect? No. I think what people responded to the most was the way I showed my passion for what I was doing, and that’s something to think about for any artist.

So I tried it again. My next project for most of September was something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Since we’re getting close to the Halloween season (Samhain for me), I’ve been watching a lot of witchy movies like Hocus PocusPractical Magic, and The Craft. I find the fictional witch aesthetic really fun and I’ve been feeling the urge to add my own contributions to that image.

I came up with a witchy hearth based on 18th century colonial homes. Like, how would a witch decorate her cottage in the colonial frontier? I thought most of his or her belongings would be functional to their craft but even functional things have their beauty. Improving my skills in drawing different textures has been more fun because I enjoyed the subject. I learned a lot about the texture of wood, stone, fabric, and the need to maintain good one-point perspective.

The Witch's Cottage, Jessica Jewett
The Witch’s Cottage is 11×14 and it was done on mixed media paper, drawn with charcoal pencil and graphite pencil.

Once again, this piece sold within minutes of completion. I was shocked! A lot of my audience has been finding things in this piece that I never intentionally placed but I don’t dare mess with those things now. People tell me most often that they see a face in the hearth fire, while others say they see the silhouette of a witch in the shadows in the back of the second shelf.

Beginning this journey into doing art that I thought was only interesting to me has been an eye-opening experience. It’s fun for me to do pieces with a lot of detail and show imagery related to my spirituality while combining it with occasional fun and fantasy, and especially history. This is who I am and I was afraid of showing it for so long.

That’s the moral of this story. You may find yourself falling into the same people-pleaser trap if you’re not careful. Things you create might be what’s popular or trendy at the moment and you may produce technically beautiful things but there will always be something missing. It’s almost a sixth sense thing with the people looking at your art. If they don’t “smell” your soul on it, they’re not going to be as responsive to what you’re offering as an artist, writer, musician, or whatever it is that you do.

But the second you allow your personal authenticity to come though, people will start engaging with you even more. My darker themes or pagan themes certainly won’t appeal to a wide audience but the people out there who are like me will and do respond at a much higher rate.

No matter how odd you think you are, there are always people like you. Be yourself.


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