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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That Was A Plot Twist

Crete Spirit by Jessica JewettYeah, it’s been a minute since I last posted a blog. A lot has been going on, though!

This piece of art on the left completely changed everything for me a few months ago (see more art at the bottom of this blog). A new client approached me and asked for a spirit guide reading, and then, after seeing that I’m an artist too, she asked if I could do a portrait of her guide. Now, I should say that I’ve done a couple of these in the distant past but I never had adequate help to keep up with it. A quality personal attendant matters a lot when you’re a quadriplegic artist. That’s an entirely different discussion, however. Needless to say, producing a continuous stream of new art has become infinitely easier in the last couple of years since I’ve gotten better quality help and longer attendant hours.

Back to this spirit guide order. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go initially because doing it in the past was really tough on me. But when I agreed to try it, I found out that it was just as rewarding for me as it was for my client. I didn’t tell my attendant exactly what the art commission was for right away even though she knows I communicate with the dead and she has a history of root workers in her own family. For some reason, it’s a lot easier to tell strangers in a blog what I’m doing than a person sitting at my desk with me.

Art by Jessica JewettThe process is more involved than ordinary art, as one might guess. I have to see the client through a photo (or in person, but that hasn’t happened yet) in order to make the connection with their guide. And guides don’t communicate verbally at all, whereas most spirits still going through the reincarnation cycle are at least willing to verbally communicate once in a while. The natural method of communication for all spirits, human or not, is mostly sensation through emotion or visual images. They can also cause smells, tastes, etc. Most mediums like me develop a visual language. For example, if a spirit is directing me to the Civil War, I’ll see my Gettysburg DVD cover, or if a spirit is trying to convey romantic love, it’ll be a flower bouquet, or the sensation of an old quilt for family love.

Spirit guides are a little more different than those still going through the reincarnation cycle in that they’re more advanced and their frequency is higher. Frequencies are like tuning in a radio. The bad entities (for me) are metaphorically on the low end of the dial, ordinary souls going through life like you and me are in the middle, and the advanced spirits who no longer reincarnate like guides and healers are on the high end. I used to have trouble establishing a useful link with spirit guides because high frequency spirits are hard to hear, so to speak.

This Crete woman was like learning how to do this work with training wheels. I was taught to use reference photos and how to feel out which ones are right for that spirit because doing art completely from scratch would be too stressful. Now that I’m working on my fifth commission, I see she was right. Reference photos give me a base that I can change as the spirit requires. So far, they’re all okay with my working method. This Crete woman came from a model I found online, except her clothes and hairstyle weren’t right. She wasn’t like what the guide was showing me. I began doing research on historical art from Crete and I found the correct way to do things. Still, most of the women had exposed breasts in this period. My client’s guide indicated that naked breasts hanging on a wall wasn’t going to work in this period, so I was told to cover them.

Art by Jessica JewettAs I began posting drawing progress on Instagram, I noticed my likes and viewership started climbing. So I told people what I was doing. It wasn’t just an art commission. It was spirit communication channeled through art. My viewership went way up again when I finally came clean about it. Before I even finished the Crete portrait and mailed it to my client, I had arranged four more art commissions privately. I was stunned. Over a year of toiling away at my art to try and make some money, and then suddenly working with spirits opened so many more doors for me.

The funny thing is people have been asking for art based on their past lives as well. It’s fairly simple to alter the working process I use to do spirit guide portraits. Instead of connecting to an outside entity, I’m connecting to the client’s subconscious memories just like I’ve been doing in written readings for years.

Here are some of the other spirit art commissions I’ve done since then. Click on them to see them in detail.

Right now I’m all out of room in my schedule to make Christmas as a deadline. To be honest, I probably have enough work to reach March at this point. Isn’t that insane? I went from a fair amount of print sales to being very overwhelmed by my workload.

This is such satisfying work for me even if my family and friends are starting to say the “ghost stuff” in the house is getting out of hand. A few weeks ago, while I was doing past life work connected to John Wilkes Booth, one of my kitchen drawers completely flew out of the slot and skidded across the floor. Now the drawer is broken and won’t fit in the slot right. People are hearing voices and footsteps in my house too. It’s par for the course in my life to attract the dead but it’s getting crowded enough that people without a breath of extrasensory ability are feeling them in and around my house. Nothing is dangerous, though. I just need to re-establish spiritual boundaries around my property.

This work is good. This work is right. I’m making the greater universe tangible for people and that matters a lot to me.

Art by Jessica JewettIf you’d like to get your own art commission, here’s the link: Custom Portrait of Your Spirit Guide or Past Life (8 1/2 x 11) on Etsy.

They are $85.00 US plus shipping and handling. Please be advised that I’m definitely booked through the end of January 2019 right now. Since I do the art on a first come, first serve basis, there is no better time to buy one than another. Just go ahead and get your spot in line.

I love this work so much! I can’t even describe how fulfilling it is to keep this link open to different people who have walked so many different places on this earth. It’s really opening my eyes as much as it is the people who ask me to do this for them.

Who knew this was where my work would lead? It certainly was a plot twist.

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Traveling and Adapting for the Disabled Artist

Me193Last week I bought a few things to get ready for a camping trip in August. I’m going to spend some time with my father’s side of the family in Wyoming again.

The last time I went wasn’t ideal for sketching in the field because I didn’t have the right supplies with me and I didn’t have the right way to pack those supplies. I needed something a little bit larger than my regular pencil bag that I use here at home and I also needed something with a little more security to keep my things from breaking. Airlines can be really rough on luggage. Wood pencils in particular will come out of a flight with the leads shattered all the way up the barrel if they’re not secure, so you won’t have anything to use at your destination.

I looked around Jerry’s Artarama first but I didn’t see anything that was going to work for me. Most pencil bags still look like the one pouch things we had when we were little kids in school, which is not going to help when we’re traveling. When I went to Amazon, I found something with pencil slots, pockets, sturdy construction, etc. It’s listed as the BTSKY High Capacity Zipper Pens Pencil Case-Multi-functional Stationary Pencil Pouch 72 Slots (it’s linked to the direct item). It comes in black, blue, pink, and purple, and it costs $12.99 USD.

Let’s see what it looks like (photos belong to Amazon).

So many things about this pencil bag appealed to me. Primarily it was the compact size while still holding 72 pencils plus other pockets that drew my attention but I also liked the fact that it had a fabric handle and two zippers that meet on the ends or in the middle depending on your needs. You can remove two of the pencil slots if you don’t need all 72 spaces and they’re held in the bag by really strong Velcro.

Things like this really matter when it comes to my disability. I have trouble with zippers but it helps to have two instead of wrestling all the way around those corners with one. I can open one side, turn it around, and open the other side. The fabric handle allows me to attach it to my wheelchair if I’m taking my things out somewhere too. A hard handle wouldn’t work because if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. There’s at least some flexibility with a fabric handle (also hard handles always hurt my hand). And if I want to remove pencil slots, I won’t need help because they’re in there with Velcro instead of snaps or zippers.

The most important thing that made me choose this pencil bag was the fact that I won’t have to dig for my pencils anymore. They’re all lined up and I know exactly what I have now, which means I won’t waste them and I won’t use the wrong ones. Also, I can pull them out and put them back in without help.

Here’s a video of me flipping through my new bag after I loaded it with my most-used drawing stuff. It’s just a quick iPhone video – nothing professional to go on my YouTube channel or anything. Yup, that’s Madonna in the background.

So what you’re seeing there is me flipping through the pencil bag with a regular Paper Mate pen. I buy those things by the huge box because I use them as pointers for typing, moving things, turning pages in books or magazines, etc. These plain old plastic pens are a great length for helping me do things that I would ordinarily need fingers to do.

One thing I noticed when I saved this video was that people are going to see odd looking tools in the back portion of my new pencil bag. It occurred to me that I ought to tell everybody about the tools because I made them out of necessity. There are plenty of blending methods involving paper stumps, q-tips, toilet paper, etc., but I learned very early on that I can’t put soft things in my mouth. They tend to melt and fall apart due to the combination of my body heat and saliva no matter how well I control it.

Here are some of my most used tools.

IMG_9100

From left to right, there is a retractable eraser, a homemade blending stump, and a homemade toilet paper blender. Since the biggest problem with most art tools when you draw with your mouth is soft things falling apart, it goes without saying that rigging new tools is most importantly about keeping those soft things out of my mouth. Stability is the second most important factor in designing adaptable tools because a lot of art techniques will eventually require heavy pressure applied to the paper. The third factor is the bonding agent remaining resistant to moisture and body heat for a long time. I’ve learned these three factors after years of trial and error.

The first item is straightforward. It’s a Pentel Clic Retractable Eraser with Grip sold for $3.97 USD on Amazon. There are a few other kinds out there too. These are great for people with limited fine motor skills because there is more to grab onto than a tiny square piece of rubber. The plastic outer casing also prevents artists who draw with their mouths from biting through the eraser itself. I find the slider very ease to push when I need more eraser too.

The second item builds upon the first. My main problem with blenders is they’re so short. If I used it on it’s own, aside from the problem of being soft material, I’ll end up going cross-eyed and rubbing my nose all over the paper. Not fun. So what we do is get a retractable eraser that I don’t use anymore and I attach the blender to it with electrical tape. The type of tape is really important because it needs to be as strong as possible and as waterproof as possible. I do not recommend masking, Scotch, or pretty planner tape because will fall apart within the first hour. When you need clean blender, just rub it on sandpaper or change it out with a new one by cutting open the tape and rigging a whole new piece. I only have to change my blender once every three months or so.

The third tool is a very similar concept. I used an old mechanical pencil instead because that was what I had available at the time. It could just as easily have been another retractable eraser. For toilet paper blending, it’s a little more difficult. The best way is to wad up a tight ball about the size of a marble and then wrap a few smooth layers around it, leaving enough to wrap around the pencil or eraser. Use the electrical tape to secure it tightly. You will have to change the toilet paper ball more often than the blending stump but it is great for blending skin and sky.

I hope this gives you a glimpse into how and why I choose my art supplies. If there are any other artists with mobility limitations, maybe these ideas will help you too.

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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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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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Video: Star Trek fan art

Recently, I posted a speed drawing video on my YouTube channel. Speed drawing videos are basically where you watch an artist complete a drawing without any tutorial tips. It’s sped up so you don’t have to watch hours and hours of tedious work that is, for the most part, only interesting to the artist.

This speed drawing was done as a birthday gift for my friend, Wendy. She was the one who took me on the Star Trek cruise at the beginning of January and we had a big discussion about whether Spock blushes green because Vulcans have green blood. Yes, we are a fabulous level of nerd. I told her I’d do a cartoon of Spock blushing green for her birthday when I got home again.

Cartoon illustrations are a weak area for me. I was trained in more of a classical, realistic style, which is why my illustrations look totally different than my “regular” art. I just haven’t had enough practice with this style to say I’m good at it.

Here’s the video.

And here is a photo of the finished illustration, which Wendy will own as soon as I get it mailed to her.

Jessica Jewett, Star Trek fan art
Star Trek fan art by Jessica Jewett. Copic Ciao markers, Tombow brush pens, Micron liner pens, and Prismacolor colored pencils on white 9 1/2 x 11 cardstock.

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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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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That time Jonathan Frakes saw me doing really terrible art, but it was okay.

Imagine, if you will, lying by a glorious swimming pool on a warm, sunny afternoon. You’re an artist, which means you carry around pencils and sketchbooks the way other people carry around gum and loose change. Since you’re on vacation, you’re hoping to sketch without the pressure of perfection. The coast of Belize is behind you. The breeze is a welcome relief from the humidity.

Jessica Jewett in Belize.
Jessica Jewett drawing on the Norwegian Jade off the coast of Belize.

Ah, there’s the happy place. You pull out your pencil bag and you begin sketching for no real artistic value – just for your own love of color and light. It’s a terrible sketch that you decide to redo properly once you’re at home with your “real” supplies. This is why you became an artist in the first place. Colors are stimulating and having total control over the story in your sketchbook is the most liberating feeling in a life that often makes you feel trapped in a wheelchair seat belt.

And then, it happens. You feel footsteps close by on the pool deck, so you look up and there he is fussing with his cell phone.

He’s your favorite.

He’s the reason you’re on this ship in the first place.

And he’s coming closer with the warmest grin despite being on the phone, because he remembers you as the lady with the smile and the lovely perfume from the previous night. A toxic sensation of dread and elation washes over you, leaving you rigid and unable to do anything but smile. You don’t want this charming human to see your terrible art lying innocently on the pool chair in front of you because you know you’re capable of so much more. The chance to be impressive is slipping through your fingers.

What’s worse is suddenly realizing your pencil is poking out of your mouth like a blueberry cigarette. You can’t spit it out right there in front of him. That’s so unladylike. Yet you wonder with certain horror if he’s silently trying to piece together why you’re on you’re stomach drawing with your mouth rather than your hands.

I can explain! I’m really a much better artist than this! Let me show you my gallery pieces!

It reverberates in your brain at the same rhythm as his approaching footsteps. Panic begins to bloom in your throat. He’s looking at you in your most vulnerable position, seeing you work with the pencil in your mouth because the universe never gave you the use of your hands. You’ve struggled your whole life to allow people to see you actively being different and he has no idea that it was an internal battle just to come out to the pool deck and draw in front of strangers.

Don’t stop. Please keep walking. But no, wait. You’re my favorite. I want to talk with you and take a photo together. Stay for a minute. Just don’t look at me with pity.

You manage to croak out something resembling, “Hello!” instead.

“Good afternoon,” he says in his cheerful way through his charming smile.

He’s disappearing into the crowds and the moment lets go of your throat. You breathe, torn between thanking the gods and goddesses that he was too busy with a phone call to stop more than a second, and wishing his call had come later so you might have enjoyed a few more seconds of your favorite.

A little while later, you peer down at your horrible sketch and you decide to finish it anyway. Screw it. Jonathan Frakes remembered you from last night. You’re a goddamn queen for a day.

Jessica Jewett, Belize sketch
“The Day Frakes Walked By” by Jessica Jewett. It reads: Upon this day on the ship Jade, whilst sketching the coast of Belize, Jonathan Frakes not only walked by my pool chair twice but remembered me from last night’s meeting. I am the lady with the smile and the good perfume. Always remember Jonathan Frakes likes J’adore by Dior. This sketch is really terrible too but thankfully he didn’t look too close. Oh, and Brent Spiner walked by my pool chair too.

And this, my friends, has been a dramatic retelling of my ten-second encounter with Jonathan Frakes. I wrote it to be tongue-in-cheek but I really did want to tell this story because every type of artist has intense insecurity sometimes, especially faced with another artist that they admire. Intimidation can be very toxic to a person’s creative energy in some ways but it can also push people to do better and challenge themselves more. It just depends on how you channel feelings of intimidation.

The truth is Frakes probably didn’t even notice my odd little setup that afternoon by the pool. If he did, nothing about it struck him as odd. He never stared or flinched or made faces like what the hell is going on here like some other people have done in my past. My tongue-in-cheek story is really a commentary on how we can talk ourselves into believing we’re being judged when that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

So be careful of that toxic thought spiral if you’re an artist. Not everything you do needs to be perfect. Not every artist needs to be perceived as perfect all the time because that’s simply not possible. Doing occasional “bad” art without the pressure to create a masterpiece actually makes you better at your craft.

Here we are in the full shot with my friends Dmitri and Wendy. I love Frakes so much that Wendy gave up her photo op tickets with Gates McFadden so I could meet him. That’s a true friend.

And I’m a true artist even if I was seen doing bad art.

Jessica Jewett, Jonathan Frakes
Jessica Jewett with Jonathan Frakes and friends, Dmitri and Wendy, on the Star Trek cruise in January 2018.

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Goals for 2018

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, believe in mapping out goals for the year and checking back every so often to see which ones get accomplished. A lot of these are related to art but some are about my writer life as well. Some combine the two halves of who I am. Still others are about personal growth, which we should all strive for on a daily basis.

In no particular order, here are my goals for 2018.

1. Finish novel Exile to the Water’s Edge.
2. Finish the Witch Cottage art series.
3. Teach online class about American witchcraft.
4. Be a better friend.
5. Begin paintings for art book about decaying plantations.
6. Learn embroidery and crochet.
7. Get better at cooking.
8. Visit more Civil War sites.
9. Work more on my family Grimoire.
10. Be brave and try public transportation.
11. Try acrylic painting again.
12. Continue work on book about my ghost encounters.
13. Remember to stop and breathe.
14. Take better care of my health.
15. Forgive myself more often.
16. Improve figure drawing skills.
17. Spend more time drawing from life.
18. Be braver about artistic subjects that matter to me.

I’ve already begun working on my goals about improving my skills and being braver about my subjects. This is my newest piece of art in my sketchbook completed just a few days ago. She is a reflection of myself in the 18th century using a photo of a living historian for reference but changed at my own discretion. This is brave for me because of the way I drew it and what materials I used. I think it turned out well.

Celine II, Jessica Jewett
Celine II. Graphite pencil, and black and white charcoal pencils on mixed media paper. 2017.

What are your goals for 2018? Tell me about them in the comments.

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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Inktober 2017: Week 1

Well everybody, we’ve survived the first week of Inktober – those of us who are participating, anyway. If you’re scratching your head at just what I’m talking about, Inktober is an activity that artists do to get to know each other and see new artists in the online world. Every day during the month of October, artists complete an ink drawing and post it online for everybody to see. There is an official prompt word list if people need inspiration but so far I haven’t needed it.

005 Micron Pen, Jessica Jewett This is my second year participating in Inktober, although I didn’t finish last year. I made it halfway through the month, and then I caught a really heinous cold … or maybe it was a sinus infection. I can’t remember. Needless to say, I didn’t finish so I was very determined to finish this year. Not only finish but create a body of work that challenged and stretched my artistic abilities.

Stretching my skills first involved gathering the right materials. My favorite drawing pens are the Micron variety. Copic makes a very similar line of pens but I haven’t ever found them at prices that don’t make me curl up into the fetal position. Micron pens come in several sizes and colors. The most common sizes I reach for are the .45 mm (05) and the .30 (02), both in black. I’ve got a set of colored ones but I haven’t used them yet. I’m enjoying the limited color palette I’m using in my Inktober sketchbook this year, which is mainly black with some light flesh shades and purples. The colors I’m using are the Copic Ciao markers. Those are alcohol-based and some of the ink is bleeding through onto the next page of my sketchbook. If this was a professional job meant to be sold, I’d care more, but as it is, this is only for me to play around and try out different illustration styles to see what I can do.

On the fifth day, I did get a stomach bug. Go figure. I always have some illness or another (compromised immune system) but I pressed ahead anyway. I’m still on schedule! That fact alone makes me very proud of myself. The sixth and seventh drawings are not exactly up to par with my intended plans because I wasn’t feeling well but they’re still worth keeping in my opinion.

Here are days one through seven of my Inktober 2017.

Meet the Artist, Inktober
Days one and two are two-panels introducing the artist. It features a section of what’s in my bag, my religious symbols, likes, dislikes, and a self-portrait.
Witch, Inktober
Day three was my interpretation of a movie still from Snow White.
Pagan Altar, Inktober
Day four was me experimenting with shapes, and light and shadow with ink, which is not something I’ve mastered yet. It turned into a pagan altar featuring a god and goddess statue, a bowl with burning herbs, a crystal ball, a scrying mirror, a bell, wine, and flowers.
Witch Hazel, Inktober
Day five came as a special request by a friend. This is my interpretation of Witch Hazel, another old Disney character.
Witch Potion, Inktober
Day six got harder because I was sick. I drew a fictional advertisement for a potion to make magic powers stronger and more stable. I drew inspiration from old Victorian tonics sold in newspapers and magazines.
Chains, Inktober
Day seven was a look at what I feel like some days with my disability. I live in a body that doesn’t function like it should and I go through periods of feeling like I’m in prison.

So far I do feel like Inktober has been a valuable experience, especially because it’s forcing me to learn a medium I don’t normally employ. We’ll see how I feel when I come back to post days eight through fourteen though!

Are you doing Inktober? Show me your work!

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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