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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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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!

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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

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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!

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I’m doing Inktober 2017!

Did you know I’m participating in Inktober this year? Inktober is an activity for artists to share each other’s work and get to know one another. Every day in the month of October, the artist draws something in ink and posts it online. I got this 5×7 sketchbook for Inktober 2017 and I did the introductory drawing to make sure the paper will work with Micron pens. So far so good! No bleed-through yet.

Jessica Jewett, Inktober

Since I’m a disabled artist (I’m a quadriplegic drawing with my mouth), I probably won’t be able to post a drawing video on YouTube every day like other artists do. I think once a week is more reasonable for me. However, I will post all of my daily drawings on my Instagram, which you can find at jj9828.

My Inktober sketchbook is going to be themed along the lines of Halloween, Samhain, spooky, autumn, fall, etc. You get the idea. My materials will be Micron pens, Copic markers, Arteza brush pens, Tombow brush pens, and a Pentel brush pen.

Do you have ideas of what drawings I could do in my little Inktober book? Tell me!

I hope you guys are going to enjoy it starting on October 1! You’ll need to follow these spots to see my daily Inktober posts.

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/jj9828
YouTube: http://youtube.com/honeysuckle1825

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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