Spineless Stanley Hazard (And Other Adventures)

There may come a time when I can look Jonathan Frakes in the eye and have a conversation without turning tomato red and losing track of basic language skills. This past week wasn’t that time.

But we’re getting closer!

drawing5We have to start way back in 1987 when the Civil War led me to the Final Frontier. I watched the second part of a huge miniseries called North and South that actually began in 1985, but I don’t remember seeing it then. I was pretty young and going through some rough things in my family. The important thing is North & South had a character called Stanley Hazard played by (drum roll, please) Jonathan Frakes, seen here in Book III in 1994. At the same time that he was making Book I and II of North & South, he was also starting to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Presto! I followed “the guy with the blue eyes and the chin dimple” (quickly covered by a Civil War-appropriate beard) from the 19th century to the 24th century when I wasn’t interested in sci-fi at the time.

That’s love, folks.

Most of you know me enough by now to understand that I was born with a desperate need for connection to 19th century American history, so me as a child watching a giant Civil War miniseries, despite its major historical costuming flaws, isn’t that unusual. When Jonathan Frakes narrated a documentary called Lee & Grant a few years ago, I lost my mind when I heard his voice and had to pause the TV long enough to tell everybody in my house. I’m just like that. It’s part of my charm.

Last year, I met Jonathan Frakes when my friend invited me on the Star Trek cruise. Let’s revisit that glorious moment.

Jessica Jewett, Jonathan Frakes

He did a Q&A that week and walked right by me because I was too chicken to ask a non-Star Trek question. What I really wanted to know was whether he did any preparation to play a villainous puppet like Stanley Hazard, whether he has interest in the Civil War period in real life, etc. Stuff that matters to me, not that Commander Riker isn’t a fantastic character. Trust me – I wouldn’t kick Riker out for eating cookies in bed. But I’m so invested in American history that I went to college for it before I got too sick to continue. Rooting out other people interested in American history is my stock and trade. So after the Q&A where I remained silent last year, I silently resolved to have North & South art autographed this year just for myself.

That brings us to last week. I boarded the cruise ship armed with unfinished Stanley Hazard art and sequestered myself in a corner of the pool deck to work on it before our ship even left port. They don’t tell you when autographs are right away and I was afraid there wouldn’t be time to finish it. Portraiture is my business, you see. I was swamped with orders well beyond Christmas and I barely had time to sketch out Stanley’s bewildered, resentful face before I left for the cruise. So I had to work on the ship in between activities.

Here’s how the progress went.

At home:


drawing4

On the cruise:

How did it turn out? In my opinion … meh. My problem with it was the rolling, rocking ship and the unfamiliar surroundings. I need my little artist habitat to do my best work, although I did enjoy people coming by on the pool deck to tell me they liked it.

One of the crew people on the ship in particular spent quite a while talking to me about my art. I told her all about Jonathan Frakes and showed her what he looked like in the present so she could spot him when she met him. Every time I saw her after that, she had intel for me like, “Oh hi! Mr. Frakes up in VIP lounge now,” (she was Asian, I think, so English was a little tough) or, “Ah, it’s you, Miss Frakes Girl. You see him yet? You finish your art?” She even showed me the photo she took with him one night in that VIP lounge. I never asked for the intel but she was fun. Like, really, what was I going to do? Sneak into a place I wasn’t allowed to go? That’s not cool.

20190107_102430Yet I did see Jonathan every day on the ship. Most of the time he saw me too, but there were a few times when he was engrossed in talking to other people or headed somewhere fast (someone with legs that long moves much faster than I do) and I just didn’t want to be a bother. I ran into him immediately on my way to breakfast on the first day at sea. A big smile came over him and he rubbed my arm and spoke familiar greetings. I hadn’t had my coffee yet but that was a better wake up than caffeine. If you’ve ever been the target of his real smile, you know what I mean. I couldn’t believe it seemed like he remembered me.

The oddest thing was that we ended up on the same tender boat headed out to Grand Cayman. A zillion boats going back and forth all day and we ended up on the same one just a few rows apart. I don’t think he ever saw me since he was with his friends and I kept to myself out of equal parts politeness and shyness. You will have seen a photo of him snorkeling that day on Twitter. He went out there to see stingrays. As soon as I got off the tender, I went the opposite direction as him. Again, I didn’t want to be a bother.

It got better from there. He always had a big smile for me when we saw each other and said things like, “There she is,” or used kind endearments like “my dear” and the like.

20190106_211012Apparently one night while I was trying to find Jonathan’s photo op line, Jason Isaacs very nearly bumped into me and said hello but I never noticed him. So naturally my brother, who loves Jason Isaacs, made fun of me for the rest of the night and swore he was going to tell Jonathan that I was so laser focused on him that I completely missed Jason right in front of me. He never ratted me out. I think he values his life too much. But he might have had a point. Let’s be real. I spent a lot of time looking for a dress that made me feel like a lady to wear in my photo op. I didn’t say that, of course, but I was hoping Jonathan would notice it. He has to be a mind reader or he sincerely meant it because he said, “Beautiful dress,” without being prompted. The photo here is me strolling the pool deck after seeing him. I look drunk. I swear I wasn’t. I rarely get compliments from men that aren’t followed up by unsolicited photos of nude genitalia or being propositioned to send my own nude photos, so it was a moment.

I don’t fit in this century if we’re honest about it.

The autograph session for Jonathan was close to the end of the cruise, so I had plenty of time to finish my North and South art. I never could get it the way I wanted because of poor lighting and total exhaustion on my part. If you’ve never traveled with me, then you won’t know how much pain I go through every day. I don’t like to dwell on it in the moment, which means someone like Jonathan won’t ever see me suffer. The more I smile, the more my body hurts. Traveling causes more pain and more pain causes my artistic skills to decline. You guys probably can’t see it in Stanley’s finished art, but I can see exactly where my physical struggles overrode my creative drive.

However, Jonathan sincerely seemed to like what I did. I was terrified standing in line because people say he can be indifferent or cold sometimes. They say that about Michael Dorn too. My worst fear was him mumbling hi, how are you, scribbling his name, and moving on to the next person. The reward for an artist isn’t money at all but the fulfillment we get from seeing our work touch another person, especially if they are the muse. I really wasn’t expecting back flips, mind you. I just dreaded feeling passed over.

So Jonathan’s handler took the art first and got very excited over it. She asked to take a photo and she said he was going to love it. I have no idea what she did with the photo but I hope she liked it. When my turn came, he gave me that smile and said, “There she is!” as if he’d been expecting me. He took the art from his handler and he didn’t say anything for a second while I chewed a hole in my lip in abject terror. Then looked over the paper at me and said with a grin, “Spineless Stanley Hazard!” Relief flooded my body and I burst into laughter. He spent time studying my art and saying, “This is so great.” I wanted to say that North and South brought me over to Star Trek TNG through him but I was starting to fall into the dumb, speechless, tomato red thing I do around him. Luckily he was busy trying to plan how and where he was going to sign the art to notice that I was starting to freeze.

When he asked for my name and started to write the J, his eyes slid over to mine and he said, “Don’t you have three names?” It took me a second to realize he probably meant my name on Twitter. I’m listed as Jessica Jewett Jones @JJ9828 on Twitter so people who read my books or buy my art as well as people who know me in real life can find me (Jones is my legal name, Jewett is my name for books and art). I don’t know if he saw the panic alarms going off in my head. He never replies to people, so I figured he didn’t read his tweets. I have a have a habit of live tweeting Riker-centric Star Trek episodes. I express Beardo love on @swear_trek too. Twitter has to be the only place he’d see me with “three names” unless he has a secret Instagram account.

Who knows what kinds of embarrassing tweets he’s seen when I thought he wasn’t looking? Oh well. I never truly say anything online that I wouldn’t want the rest of the world to see. You just never know who’s watching. It’s fine for him to know that the Riker Maneuver in the movie (or generally Riker in combat command) turns me into one of those Victorian women in need of smelling salts. You know what? I own it. Still, I was teased the rest of the night for being busted.

I don’t know if photos in the autograph line were exactly kosher but my brother was behind me and he knew how important that night was to me. He discreetly took a few photos while Jonathan and I were talking. Hopefully we won’t get in trouble for this since it wasn’t done obnoxiously.

All joking aside, after Jonathan signed my art and handed it back to my brother (bonus points to him for knowing I can’t hold objects in my hands without being told), he caught my eye and got serious to say something to the effect of, “It’s always a pleasure to see you. Always.” It was a crowded atrium and I was honestly overwhelmed. But he made a point to make me feel valued and wanted. That meant everything to me.

Here’s the finished art with his autograph.

drawing6

The next time we bumped into each other was unexpectedly at Brent Spiner’s theater show. My brother saw him sitting in my row on the other side of the theater, which was cool, but I wasn’t going to approach him. I never approach him, in fact. I just wait to see if he notices me and he usually does. He spotted me as he was walking by and he called out, “Hey, baby!” and blew a kiss at me with his whole hand. Nope, I can’t tell you what songs Spiner sang for a big part of the show after that. And for most of the second half of the show, while Spiner sang love songs, Jonathan sat right across the aisle from me and it took all of my internal fortitude to stay focused on the show.

I had hoped to catch him one more time on the last day to thank him for being so lovely to me all week. That never happened. I slept in late and then I spent the afternoon with my brother at the bar above the pool deck, ironically not drinking any alcohol. It was just a nice place to sit and watch the world go by.

There were so many other great things that happened on my trip, like Gates McFadden accidentally shoving my chair into Wil Wheaton, but it’s all too much to write in one blog. I mainly composed this one for myself so I could remember the things that were most important to me. If you found it interesting and made it to the end, you’re the kind of person I want to know and I thank you for hanging out here. I think I might do more North and South art once I’m not so buried in commissions too. We’ll see.

Yes, I am going on the Star Trek cruise next year as long as Jonathan Frakes will be there. I’d probably go even if he wasn’t there since it’s my friend Wendy who buys my passage, but he makes it so much more fun for me. And maybe I’ll figure out how to stop blushing like a virgin and say something more intelligent than hi and thank you. That’s really irritating me. I’m a 36-year-old woman who has had almost two dozen surgeries, a dozen broken bones, I’m a domestic abuse survivor, I’m more than a decade sober, and I can’t stand women that get all shy and silent around men. I’m a goddamn warrior! I can handle a 6’4 man like a queen! Next year, I’m going to blow his socks off with my charm and intelligence. He’ll go home and tell Genie Francis how awesome I am (ha!)

Next year’s autograph art? Will Riker vs Thomas Riker. So mote it be.

rikers

Oh, PS, it’s Wendy who has the photo ops and she’s in the middle of moving house during a snow storm. I’ll update this blog when she sends me the photo ops. In the meantime, go ahead and follow my social media at the bottom of this blog for more photos and my latest art projects.

Star Trek the Cruise 2019, signing off. Back to real life.

20190107_112303

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Six months into the #CopicColors art challenge!

Welcome to June! We are halfway through the yearlong art challenge put on by Copic Markers and I’m still hanging in there.

If you haven’t been following me on Instagram, I’ll give you the lowdown. Every first of the month, Copic issues three colors that we have to use to create art. The only rules are that we have to use those exact colors and the only other tools allowed are black ink or pencil and white ink or pencil if you choose to add highlights and emphasis.

Let’s take a look at my first six months. All of mine are done on the same white paper but I don’t have professional lighting to keep the same brightness with every photo.

Each month, I’m creating a fashion plate from a different decade in the nineteenth century. The rhythm goes like this:

January: 1800-1809
February: 1810-1819
March: 1820-1829
April: 1830-1839
May: 1840-1849
June: 1850-1859
July: 1860-1869
August: 1870-1879
September: 1880-1889
October: 1890-1899
November: 1900-1909
December: 1910-1919

Next month, July, we are getting into the real expansion period of the United States when immigrants started coming over from Europe by the millions. I plan to use the next few months to depict the diversity in the country to the best of my ability.

July I have a reference photo of former enslaved people learning how to read. August I have planned an indigenous woman called Pretty Nose. September I will probably do something with the Chinese community in San Francisco at that time. Since October is Halloween, I have a reference photo of women wearing witch costumes in the 1890s. November I wanted to depict the Jewish community in the Lower East Side tenements of Manhattan. And finally in December, I want to depict the final Christmas before America went into World War I.

Even though I want to explore what it really meant to be American in the second half of the nineteenth century, the flow will remain the same throughout the whole year. You will recognize all twelve illustrations as part of a continuous series. That means all of the indigenous and immigrant clothing will be just as heavily researched as my first six illustrations. Textiles have always been the way to view a woman’s life in any century.

Prints of this series can be found in my Etsy shop for $10 in the small size and $20 in the large size. Supporting indie artists like me is important so we can keep creating new things.

Keep checking back for more in this series!

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Portraits of the Dead

Sometimes I do portraits of the dead I’ve encountered in my life. It’s not a habit I openly discuss all that much, not because I’m ashamed of it, but because a segment of the population will find it evil or repugnant or whatever. But I figure if you’re here reading my blog, you already know something about me and this won’t be news to you at all.

Drawing, Jessica JewettDrawing, Jessica Jewett

I drew these on the left when I was a small child. You were probably expecting this to begin with astounding drawings of people from my childhood that solved centuries-old mysteries, thereby establishing me as a child medium powerhouse. If this was a movie, that would be the greatest ending to a childhood plagued by isolation, misunderstandings, and scary ghost encounters. This isn’t an “I see dead people” movie, though. This is real life.

I was indeed filling my little girl sketchbooks with dead people – that much is true – but I never told anybody what I was doing, nor did I want to show anybody the evidence. To be perfectly truthful, I never quite understood what I was drawing in terms of “these are actual dead people” because I had very little understanding of death until my great grandmother died in 1994. Yet notebooks filling up with Civil War people when I wasn’t yet able to write a full sentence probably gave my family or the kids in school some idea that I was “different” but nobody ever said anything to my face.

Much of my art was my way of keeping track of the dead folks I met even before I understood what death meant. But some of my art was my way of trying to make sense of my past life memories, like the drawings of old houses from approximately the 4th grade. I used to see those houses in my past life memories enough that apparently I felt the need to draw them. I know now that the house on the top was my attempt at recording the Harriet Beecher Stowe house in Brunswick, Maine, which I visited a few times in my lifetime before this one. The house underneath it is certainly from the same lifetime, probably in Maine or Massachusetts, but I never successfully identified it. The reason why I think it’s a past life memory is because a child that young won’t make up that much detail from mere imagination.

Here is a postcard of the Stowe house to compare with my childhood drawing.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

When I got old enough to understand what death meant, I also began to understand that the other people I saw out there weren’t living anymore. I became fearful of who might see my sketchbooks and school notebooks, so I threw out a lot of my earliest portraits. Obviously I regret that now.

School art classes made me start new sketchbooks, however, and I found it necessary to keep one for the teacher to see and one at home for my “real” work. For school art classes or playing with friends, I was very careful to only draw images from Disney or anything else we thought was cool as we grew up. Most of my friends gave up markers and crayons as they grew, but I never let go of my compulsive need to create things. Slowly I morphed into everybody’s quirky artist friend. There’s always one!

As you are going to see in the rest of this post, my spirit sketches are never complete or polished pieces of art because I can’t see them well enough to get down to the serious nitty gritty. I will show you the progress of my spirit sketches but it’s important to note that they’ll never reach my full artistic potential. Spirits are vague, washed out in colors, with whole spots that are see through. They also don’t pose. They don’t hang around more than a few seconds either because of how much energy it requires for them to show their images at all. My process is to pick out something that stands out – some detail that I can make very clear on paper – and then I estimate the rest. The average manifestation lasts about five seconds for me, so there isn’t much time to grab that main detail. I’ve gotten much better at it as I’ve grown into adulthood and developed much stronger technical skills.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Jessica JewettMany of the drawings I made in my childhood were of these two people over and over again in different poses and doing different things. Since I threw away most of my old sketchbooks out of fear of being judged or questioned, I only have these examples to show that were done several years ago. They are Fanny and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who were deeply connected to the house drawings from earlier in my childhood (seen above). The Chamberlains were from Maine and lived through the bulk of the 19th century. Lawrence was a college professor who volunteered for the Union Army in the American Civil War, eventually rising to the rank of Brevet Major General. After the war, he became Governor of Maine. His wife was a music teacher and artist trained by highly respected creative minds of their period.

Fanny Chamberlain, Jessica JewettIn 1999, I realized through events too numerous to list here that I was Fanny Chamberlain in a previous life and my obsessive need to keep drawing these people was my subconscious mind trying to say it out loud. Specifically from ages six to nine, I filled page after page of drawing paper depicting mostly Fanny and Lawrence but also many other members of their families. I had no idea who they were until the summer between my junior and senior years of high school but their lives replayed in snippets of my memory. Drawing their faces soothed me a little bit, especially when I was plagued by nightmares of Civil War military hospitals. And that was what I was really after in my mind – soothing the unexplained images by dumping them onto paper. If this story interests you, go take a look at the book I wrote about it called Unveiled: Fanny Chamberlain Reincarnated.

Fanny Chamberlain, Jessica JewettHere is another drawing of Fanny surviving from a much earlier period in my life (right). The best way for me to date my drawings is to place them before or after the bulk of my real technical training in the late 90s. I believe I did it somewhere between 1995 and 1997 before I knew who Fanny was, and then I fiddled with the skirt again many years later after I learned more about drawing fabric. This sketch is incomplete to this day.

It’s a reference to a memory of being outside near a barn at night in the rain but I never got that far with it. Like I said, drawing Fanny or anything related to her used to frighten me into silence and I threw away most of them, which I regret now.

Moving from Missouri to Georgia in 1998 completely changed the way I viewed the spiritual overlapping with the physical. Not only was my language and awareness finally in a place where I could talk about it and ask questions but it seemed like every square inch of the Deep South was rife with the dead trying to be remembered.

Here are some of the scattered sketches I did in high school of spirits I saw in different places. Most of the time I saw spirits at battlefield parks or other historic sites for obvious reasons. You can click on them to make them bigger.

To preserve my sanity, I had to develop skills in blocking and shutting down that part of myself so I could finish high school. I allowed myself to channel the things I saw and experienced into more recognizable pop culture references. That way I could still relieve my need to create and my need to memorialize people from history. I made a few sketches from historical movies like Titanic and Gone With the Wind, while leaving nobody in question of what I really needed to do.

This is one of my sketches from 1998 before I really developed technical skills.

Titanic, Jessica Jewett

Gone With the Wind, Jessica JewettBy mid-2000, I had developed much stronger technical skills and embarked on a large, highly detailed piece from Gone With the Wind. It was my effort at keeping myself occupied through the summer to stay “normal”. Once I realized a few years before that I was seeing the dead, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was a teenager desperately trying to fit in as all teenagers do.

I only got so far during the summer of 2000 and I didn’t attempt to finish it again until 2016. Life got in the way, I developed other interests in writing books, and my eyesight began to fail beyond what I could overcome in my art.

Gone With the Wind Boudoir II DrawingIt took 16 years and surgery on my eyes to pick it up again, seen here.

In the 16 years between starting and finishing this Gone With the Wind piece, I hardly drew anything at all. Challenges in my life made me set aside those things and go at it without the crutch of my sketchbook, as I thought of it at the time. I had to find a way to make peace with my ability to see the dead as well as sometimes seeing into the living. And I had to achieve that peace without trying to hide it with secret messages in my art. I had to learn how to communicate with them, how to send them away, how to block it out, and how to let it happen when necessary. Being a mere observer means you get followed and they attach to you more often. I had to accept what I was while developing boundaries.

Learning to accept the presence of the dead in my life was only half the battle. Doing so much art with the pencils in my mouth due to lifelong quadriplegia had ruined my vision. I was so visually impaired by 2000 that I couldn’t see beyond a foot in front of my face. Around 2007, I had surgery to correct my vision. I thought that would fix everything and I could start drawing again.

What I wasn’t counting on was the abrupt change in perception, color, light, and darkness. Surgery changed how I saw everything, which in turn changed how I perceived my artistic abilities. I developed a fear of laying pencil to paper because I was absolutely sure I had lost my ability to create after I had surgery on my eyes. Rather than witness my own failure as an artist, I refused to try it at all. I punished myself and wasted almost two decades due to how my vision changed.

Even through 16 years of barely touching a pencil or paintbrush, the dead never went away. There were lulls when I didn’t see as many and there were spikes of seeing them on a daily basis. They were my normal as a young adult. Of course I had friends and I lived a very mundane life but I was learning about them underneath it all.

I began looking into spiritual literature and talking to the older people in my family. For a very short time, I went to Catholic Mass and Episcopal services in an effort to fill a void of knowledge. It didn’t work and I never felt comfortable with Christianity. It never lined up with the experiences in my life. So I shifted to the other extreme – atheism. That never felt right either. Finally I decided to simply figure it out for myself without trying to squeeze into a category, which then opened my eyes and allowed me to read about Buddhists, Hindus, Kabbalah, Judaism, Islam, Spiritualism, and so on and so forth. Along this exploration, I also took an interest in genealogy. That was when I found the other women of power in my blood.

Newell, Rulon, Oliver, Jessica Jewett

It turned out my mother, grandmother, etc., going back through the generations in the above photograph from the 1890s all had some sort of extrasensory ability. They used their abilities within the context of their time period and church-based American culture but I found private letters between these women talking to each other about communicating with the dead, the spiritual properties of plants, reading auras in my grandmother’s generation, and much more. As I developed my understanding of the wider universe and began having conversations with my grandmother, I realized our traditions and beliefs at their core came from our varied Celtic ancestry in Ireland, upper France, Scotland, and England. In the 21st century, it translates to neopagan and witchcraft life. So that’s what I became and I haven’t looked back since.

The most important lesson that came to me was blinding in its simplicity: the dead are not out to hurt the living, nor do they want to frighten us the way we are taught to think in movies. They simply want acknowledgement. They want to be remembered. They want their truth understood. And when they realize someone like me can see them, we become like lighthouses for ships in the night. That realization inspired one of my first serious paintings after I tried to get my skills back.

Night scene with a boat dock and the moon.

Water is a conduit that helps spiritual energy move and manifest. The imagery of crossing a river is synonymous with dying and making the transition into the afterlife. Therefore, this painting was my tentative toe dipped back into the spiritual artist pool. I think this was in 2012 and I didn’t do very much for a few years after that because I wasn’t yet convinced that art was completely good for me.

For the last few years, I’ve thrown myself back into art at full speed. I don’t really know what made me choose this period of my life but doing art now is much more fulfilling than frightening. The same goes for my relationship with the dead. I interact with them now on my terms when I feel strong enough so the experiences don’t drain me too much or pull me away from living my life. I have known too many people who got too wrapped up in toying with the dead that they forgot to live for the here and now, which is obviously incredibly unhealthy. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest so you don’t take regrets with you into your death.

St. Louis teacher, Jessica JewettLast year I did several new sketches of the dead I’ve met. I thought back to the one who frightened me the most when I was about 8-years-old and I committed the experience to my sketchbook (seen on the right). My uncle and aunt shared an apartment in St. Louis when I was little that used to be a school at the end of the nineteenth century into the early twentieth century. That building was always uncomfortable – something my mother and I never discussed until I was an adult. She never saw the teacher but I did and feeling such negativity from a spirit that abused children in life frightened me into silence for years afterward. Mom knew I was telling the truth because she had the same sensations at the time as well. The teacher was not at rest, probably because she died believing she would be judged for her deeds in life and refused to move on, instead getting stuck in the building where those deeds happened.

Here are some more recent sketches of spirits. Again, please click on the photos to see the larger versions.

So let’s talk about these people. Three of them are spirits that I’ve met around my current neighborhood southeast of Grant Park in Atlanta. One of them (the soldier aiming a gun) was a spirit I had seen back in 1999 on a day trip to see North Georgia history barely a year after I moved here. My trip to Chickamauga always stuck with me and I wanted to memorialize this poor young man. The women are a bit different. They never hung around. Sometimes I have spirits simply passing through the area and I never see them again, which is completely normal.

The lady on the far left was dressed in that hazy area between the Depression and World War II. I woke up one night to find her bending over my bed looking at me curiously like she was trying to figure out who I was and what I was doing here. Naturally it startled me so hard that I jumped up and turned on my light (at the time I had a touch lamp that I could turn on without needing help with a switch). She wasn’t bad. She was actually very friendly as you can tell by her facial expression. What startled me was how bright her colors were. Usually I see spirits as faint shapes with washed out colors and the entire experience is not so jarring. This lady was bright, like illuminated, and her outer edges were pretty solid. At first I thought a living person broke into my house and that startled me into ready to fight.

On the far right is a lady that hung around for about a month. I had some communication with her after my mom and grandmother complained on more than one occasion of smelling smoke. Apparently Atlanta had a rather large city fire in 1917 around the Old Fourth Ward extending southward to almost where I live. I had never heard of it until I met the Smoky Lady (I give them all nicknames if they don’t give me real names). She indicated that she died of the smoke triggering an asthma attack from which she couldn’t recover and was never listed as a direct casualty of the fire. From what I recall, there weren’t any direct casualties. Why did she tell me? Who knows.

Celine II, Jessica JewettI’ve come full circle in a lot of ways with this spirit art. It began with drawing my past life memories, drifted into drawing the dead around my city, and now I’ve allowed myself to memorialize another past life of mine. Drawing allows my mind to go silent and I meditate on every little line. And when I need to release something to the universe, sometimes drawing it in great detail facilitates that liberation for me.

This is who I was in the eighteenth century. I witnessed the end of the French monarchy but I didn’t survive the Terror. It’s much clearer than my other sketches because it’s a recurring memory that I’ve experienced many times for over a decade now. The profile is actually a mirror reflection, which is the only way I’ve ever seen myself at that time. This is the face of a woman who knows her family will disappear soon.

Since I committed it to paper, I haven’t seen this reflection in my dreams again.

I’m in my thirties now and I find it much easier to do these spirit sketches. In my youth, I did them because I didn’t understand the things I saw and I was essentially trying to purge the weird from my system. Now I realize that these little pages in my sketchbooks are memorials for the forgotten people dead so long there isn’t anyone left to mourn or remember them. Now I consider it my responsibility to preserve their memories and give their souls a little bit of immortality.

Donation

Please consider making a donation to help me keep up with the cost of art supplies, living expenses, equipment related to my disability, and so forth. The minimum is set at $10.00. Thank you for your generosity.

$10.00


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Getting Ready For My Gallery Show And The Luxembourg Art Prize

I haven’t been posting blogs as often as I want lately because I’ve been really busy producing more art for my show here in Atlanta at the end of the month. It has been an exciting but exhausting time seeing how far I can go with my artistic capabilities.

This week we started setting aside all of the pieces that I feel are good enough to be part of my gallery show. There are big gaping holes on my walls now because several of the best pieces were hanging in the bedroom and the bathroom. It’s been a process starting from scratch and investing money in prints, packaging materials, etc. The art community I’m joining encourages people to sell their art at the show, although I prefer not to sell my originals until I have a bigger portfolio. A bunch of my smaller pieces still need to be matted for hanging but I think I’m over the hump of the most amount of prep work.

Of course, I’m nervous. There are seeds of doubt inside of me always saying I’m not good enough, I’m irrelevant, nobody cares about portraiture work anymore, etc. My style of art is more suited to previous centuries than current abstract or pop art trends. I really can’t align my brain with abstract or pop art. My best work is in realistic portraiture, which is sometimes considered a dead art form since people have cameras now. But it’s who I am. It’s what I do. I can’t change for modern tastes.

Unrelated to my upcoming show, I finalized my entry for the Luxembourg Art Prize. It’s open to the international world and the prize is quite substantial. That’s not why I entered though. Don’t get me wrong – the money would be really nice and allow me to spend some time in Europe – but my reason for entering is more personal. I have been stagnate as an artist for years because I allowed myself to drown in insecurity and fear. This year I’ve committed myself to understanding that there are always going to be artists with more talent than me but that’s true for everyone. I have to stop thinking of myself as unworthy and start thinking of myself as a creative being with valuable things to say. So entering such a big contest was my way of ripping off the Band-Aid. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a finalist. Last year’s winner was American too.

I’ve finished two new pieces of art this week and I just started my third today. These two were done in charcoal and graphite. The one I started today is in colored pencil.

Colonial Woman
Colonial Woman – charcoal and graphite pencils on heavy drawing paper.
Gone With the Wind Boudoir II Drawing
Gone With the Wind Boudoir II Drawing – Graphite and charcoal pencils on heavy drawing paper.

If you’d like to come to my gallery show, here’s the information.

Host: FamilyHood ATL

Date: Friday night, June 30, 2017

Location: Eventide Brewing
1015 Grant St SE
Atlanta, GA 30315

Donation

Please consider making a donation to help me keep up with the cost of art supplies, living expenses, equipment related to my disability, and so forth. The minimum is set at $10.00. Thank you for your generosity.

$10.00


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I Promised My Mom

37718_454337710085_7256410_nThis is the house that founded my family in Missouri and this is my mother. The story goes like this:

My 10th great grandfather was Maximilian Jewett, who was a deacon and a clothier in the 1600s. He was one of the founding citizens of Rowley, Massachusetts, in Essex County. The family stayed in Rowley for the next hundred years until my 7th great grandfather, Mark Jewett, moved his family to Exeter, New Hampshire, somewhere in the last decade before the American Revolution.

Stay with me now.

Mark’s grandchildren scattered like crazy in the early 1800s. Several went to Maine and several stayed in New Hampshire, while my 5th great grandfather inexplicably decided to break away from the family. His name was also Mark and he uprooted his wife, Patience (a necessary name), and their horde of children, and migrated west to Steubenville, Ohio. So then his son, Gilman Jewett (4th great grandfather), decided Ohio wasn’t west enough. He uprooted his clan and settled in the region of Waterloo, Illinois.

We’re getting to the point. I swear.

His son, my 3rd great grandfather, was orphaned by the age of three if my documentation is right. He was Samuel Lewis Jewett. He married Martha Dorsey in Illinois (I name her because her family were slave owners in Kentucky, a piece of history I’m currently researching). They bought 650 acres on the Missouri River in Cooper County, Missouri, not long before the beginning of the Civil War.

Now we come to the house up in that picture. The farm in its first incarnation during the Civil War was known as the Jewett Spring Mill because it was a timber mill, I think. He built the house in the photo on this post. Grandpa Samuel had enough corn growing there that it attracted General Price of the Confederate Army in 1864, who demanded he grind all that corn to feed the army. Well, after three straight days of grinding, the story goes that Grandpa Samuel had enough and basically told General Price to screw off and he left the farm to go back to Illinois. Allegedly he returned after the war and resumed his mill and farm until he died.

I’m not sure if Grandpa Samuel actually left the farm, however, because my 2nd great grandfather, his son, was born in Cooper County in January 1865. The war wasn’t over yet at that point. Maybe General Price was already gone then and he came back, but I don’t think a Jewett would actually run away like that. Missouri folks are intensely stubborn about their land. I believe the story about General Price but I’m not so sure that he would have attempted crossing the Mississippi while Grandma Martha was pregnant. But who knows? I wasn’t there.

A couple of Jewett generations later, my mom was born in 1959 and raised in that house that Grandpa Samuel built. It was changed and added to a couple of times in the century since it was built but the brick structure is, I think, the original part of the house. My mom told me the house didn’t even have a bathroom until my grandfather married my grandmother in 1950.

What’s my point?

The Jewett house was, when I visited in the late 80s, abandoned and pretty much falling apart even though my great uncle, another Gilman, still owns part of the original 650 acres. We think the house has probably caved in on itself or has been torn down by the county by now. Basically we are the only living people left in this generation who have any memory of the place being a large self-sufficient farm the way it was from just before the Civil War up through my mother’s childhood. When my mom and her siblings are gone, nobody will be alive who can talk about all the outbuildings and what crops were grown, etc.

I promised my mom I would paint the Jewett house of her childhood. The history of it matters. I don’t have very many photos available for reference but I have enough to piece it together for a nice oil painting that will last long after we are gone. In fact I find that oil paintings last even longer than photos, which are far more sensitive to environmental factors, not to mention how many digitized photos get lost when computers die. Think about it. Art is still the most lasting medium.

And that’s why I’m posting this blog here on my art website. You guys are going to follow along with my progress on this oil painting undertaking. I’ll probably start on it this week.

Donation

Please consider making a donation to help me keep up with the cost of art supplies, living expenses, equipment related to my disability, and so forth. The minimum is set at $10.00. Thank you for your generosity.

$10.00


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