Learning Landscapes

Jessica Jewett, artI have been a portrait artist for so long that I almost got to a point of never imagining myself doing anything else. That’s not necessarily a good thing, however. Artists, in my opinion, should definitely develop a style but not at the expense of challenging themselves. There comes a point when you’re doing the same thing again and again that your creativity goes flat, so it’s incredibly important to find ways to stretch your style into new subjects.

A few years ago, I did this colored pencil piece when I was visiting family in Wyoming. This was where we were camping on the North Platte River a bit upriver from the Alcova Reservoir. I sketched it out in person, took a photo, and then added the color when I got home. It’s fairly obvious to me that I was hesitant and uncertain about how to work with earthy colors as opposed to flesh tones. It’s not terrible but I wanted it to be better. This piece now belongs to my father.

Wyoming Mountains Landscape

I’ve attempted painting landscapes with water elements before. This one turned out very well, much better than I expected at the time. It wasn’t any place in particular but more like a reflection of my thoughts on death and crossing into the afterlife. All in all, not a bad effort but I took it as a fluke because I did this under the guidance of a more experienced painter.

Night scene with a boat dock and the moon.

A trend has been developing, it seems, of me doing better with pencil scenes. It’s not that much of a surprise considering I’ve always done stronger work in charcoal or graphite. But I don’t think landscapes are meant for black and white unless you’re trying to create a darker mood with cemeteries or dilapidated houses. Nature is filled with beautiful colors that express every kind of mood or emotion in the universe and that is the real challenge for an artist to master.

But then I decided to at least work in black and white for a while to master (or at least get better) the technical parts of creating nature-based art. It’s totally different than portraits of people. I cannot approach those things the same way, otherwise I’ll fail at what I’m trying to accomplish. It could be said that people and nature have completely different souls that can’t be interchangeable on paper or canvas.

Recently I attempted doing a drawing of the coast of Scotland in color after such a long time of trying to understand things in black and white. My Scotland drawing was done in Copic markers, which has the benefit of mixing and blending the way I want to do with oil paint but I’m not quite ready to be that advanced yet. Oils are my ultimate goal but it’s been so long since I used them that I think I’m back down to the beginner stage again. That’s fine, though. I can play with color using Copic markers until I’m used to deciphering nature’s palettes and then I can go back to paint.

I’m definitely more energized and ready to try doing more landscapes and seascapes again. Seeing my marked improvement from the Wyoming piece to the Scotland piece tells me that practice really does make perfect, as much as I hate those little sayings. I wanted you all to see the improvement too because some of you might be struggling to master something in your artistic goals. Keep your old stuff because you will see your development over time. And seeing your skills grow will do a lot for your self-confidence as an artist. I certainly haven’t mastered landscapes or seascapes but I can see the evidence that I’m getting better. That’s enough for me.

Take a look at Scotland.

Scotland, Jessica Jewett

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Video: All of my art done in 2017.

I wanted to put together a compilation video of all my various art projects in the last year. Hopefully if I do this right, you should be able to watch the video below. I’ll also provide a direct link to the YouTube page in case it doesn’t work here for you.

Looking back on it now, 2016-2017 has been my biggest period of growth since I was a student, as far as my technique development and my creative experimentation is concerned. This past year I tried playing with subjects and ideas that I never would have considered a few years ago because I used to be so stuck in the little box of what should be viewed as “fine art”. That can be a bit of a downside to being exposed to any sort of classical training. You do need those technical skills but you’re also at risk of falling into the us vs them trap of what’s real art and what’s not. I’m happy to say that I think I’ve grown beyond that trap and I’m much more willing to experiment these days.

Now, let’s see if I can post the video here.

Here’s the direct link: https://youtu.be/Vo4z4gJbdq8

As always, if you enjoy my videos, please feel free to subscribe to my channel. I’m hoping to hit 1,000 subscribers this year. Your support means a lot to me!

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.

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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.

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.

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