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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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.

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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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Struggling With the Witch Cottage Series

I had the bright idea in the autumn to start a series of highly detailed, realistic pencil drawings of domestic scenes based around my concept of how a witch lived during colonial America. It’s sort of fantasy, sort of ancestral reality, and altogether original. My goal was to complete one in time for each of the four seasons. Loosely, they would be themed around Samhain, the winter solstice (Yule to some), Imbolc into Ostara, and Beltane into Lughnasadh.

I have completed Samhain and Yule so far. I think Samhain was fairly easy because I hadn’t yet decided to make it a full series, so I wasn’t feeling any pressure. Samhain is my favorite period of the year too. I can whip out art along the themes in that season with my eyes closed. Take a look at the one that started my bright idea.

The Witch's Cottage, Jessica Jewett

Witch Cottage No. 1:

5×7 print on Etsy for $10.00
11×17 print on Etsy for $20.00
ORIGINAL PIECE SOLD

I’m really proud of that one. People often send me messages asking if I intentionally hid images in the fire or in the shelf. I didn’t, of course, but I adore the idea of people seeing things in my art that speak to them. It means I somehow tapped into some amazing creative energy.

Then I decided I would do it again. A story began to form in my mind because I spent so much time with the first piece and everybody loved it so much. I had to restock it three times, which has never happened in my little shop with another piece of art. The story took shape for a more formal room designed around the winter solstice, which doesn’t look very different from Christmas. The trouble was I tried to finish a major piece of art during the real holidays. I ran out of time! It was tough to balance home life with my artistic ambitions and I had to learn a tough lesson about best laid plans. Witch Cottage No. 2 wasn’t finished until after the solstice.

Witch Cottage No. 2, Jessica Jewett

Witch Cottage No. 2:

5×7 print on Etsy for $10.00
11×17 print on Etsy for $20.00
ORIGINAL PIECE on Etsy for $180.00

But I finished it and I think the challenge was good for me. I changed up my usual way of setting up a composition for domestic scenes. Everything was done to historical specifications regarding colonial America while adding subtle hints that a witch lives in that home. I had trouble though. It was tough to keep my perspective points straight and I still think I couldn’t get those points exactly right. One point perspective I’ve mastered pretty well but two point perspective or more still wreaks havoc on my dyslexia.

Still I’m pressing onward to new challenges. At the moment, I’m working on the third piece in my Witch Cottage series centered around the rebirth and renewed light during the period of Imbolc into Ostara. I had the fabulous idea of a greenhouse scene to show where the witch in this artistic story grows her plants, flowers, and herbs.

Again, I’ve run into delays and the sacred days have already come and gone. This time it was my health. Chronic pain is a companion to my disability and I had to have an invasive procedure this spring. I might even be looking at surgery this year too. So I’m doing my best to be kinder to myself about missing my self-imposed deadline because this is not something that could have been avoided.

Let’s take a look at my work-in-progress of Witch Cottage No. 3, shall we?

Witch Cottage No. 3, WIP, Jessica Jewett

I’m not sure how much you can decipher about what’s going on in this piece but you’re looking at the interior of a greenhouse. There are drying herbs strung across the top. A table and chairs are in the middle with a bench on the right. Through the open door will be a glimpse of the outside as well. I’m planning to set up an Imbolc altar on the table and maybe hide an ewe outside somewhere. We’ll see where things take me as I go. This one has been daunting because I rarely draw plants, but I’ve been practicing in other sketchbooks.

Of course, since I’ve made it this far, I can’t stop now. I don’t really want to stop either. I did not, however, believe I was going to be so challenged by this project. Once I’m done with Witch Cottage No. 4 in a few months (I haven’t yet decided how to depict summertime), I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the fact that I succeeded at a challenge I set before myself almost six months ago.

Don’t get stagnate in your art. If you’re not feeling challenged, or you’re not slightly nervous about your work, then you’re not developing your skills. An artist needs constant growth in order to experience life at its fullest. Sometimes being nervous is a good thing because it makes your accomplishments all the more potent and special.

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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!

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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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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recap of the FamilyHood ATL Art Show

It’s taken me a little while to post a blog about the art show, which was my first public showing of my art pieces. The day after the show, I woke up pretty sick. Apparently my brother had a cold the week before and passed it to me. With my compromised immune system, it took me twice as long to kick the plague and today was the first day I felt like doing any meaningful work. Ah, to be an artist. There’s always pain involved!

I was, to be quite honest, afraid to take my art into the public sphere. It’s almost a cliche but artists always say they put their souls into their work and that makes them feel really exposed when they show it. This was my first time going through that uncomfortable sensation of naked exposure before strangers but I don’t regret it. It was like ripping the Band-Aid off and now I know I can handle it. After the first twenty minutes or so, I began to let myself relax and go with the flow.

FamilyHood ATL Art Show, Jessica Jewett
A scene from the FamilyHood ATL art show that took place on June 30.

Atlanta’s art scene is not at all pretentious or snooty like people might expect in, say, New York or Los Angeles. The people I hooked up with, FamilyHood ATL, base their work on diversity with the Atlanta community and that is really important to me too. I was exposed to so many different artistic styles that I sucked up so much inspiration for my own style as well.

Speaking of style, I’ve been concerned for months that a.) I don’t have an identifiable style or meaningful voice, or b.) my faint style will be received as outdated and old-fashioned because other people don’t do what I do. The fear that I wasn’t cool enough to hook up with the Atlanta art scene was intense in the last week before the show. The thing is, I learned some valuable lessons based on watching people look at my art and formulate their opinions. My style is preserving history through the art of portraiture and it is okay because there aren’t many people in Atlanta doing that kind of thing. There are a lot of people doing awesome street art and pop art but that’s not me. People were welcoming of the fact that I’m different. I need to embrace the fact that my little corner of the art world is cool and accepted because I make history and portraiture cool and accepted for the people looking at my pieces. My fear of being different made me overlook the fact that I’m supposed to be different. Doing this show forced me to think harder about what kind of artist I am and that’s an important lesson.

Watch a video of the art show on my Instagram page.

It was interesting to watch people study my pieces before they got to me and read my bio. They were appreciating my pieces, studying them, discussing them, etc., before they even realized I was in a wheelchair. I can’t tell you how great that was for me. I’m used to people seeing the wheelchair first and then getting excited about the art because I do all of the work with the tools in my mouth. At this show, people were judging my art based on my skill, composition, subjects, and so forth. I ended up watching them like they were the exhibit. My confidence is much better now that I know I can stand on my own two feet as an artist without constantly thinking people like me just for the novelty of drawing with my mouth.

I would definitely say my participation with FamilyHood ATL was a huge success. I sold a few prints and I learned a lot about myself and how unifying artists can be when they embrace diversity.

So what’s next?

Well, I have a few opportunities in the works that will be amazing if they come to pass. One is a local opportunity and the other is a national opportunity. I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about them out loud yet. You’ll be the first to know when everything is solid.

As for my next pieces of art, I’m working on a collection. Nevertheless, she persisted. My goal is to do portraits of women throughout history from different cultures. The female experience is varied in different parts of the world but the one thing that unifies us is persistence. I want to capture that in historical portraits. If they get shown, they have to be shown as a collection in order to get the full impact of what I’m trying to communicate. I hope it goes over well!

She Persisted
She Persisted – Prismacolor colored pencil portrait of Jackie Wyers on heavy drawing paper.

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Getting Ready For My Gallery Show And The Luxembourg Art Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Host: FamilyHood ATL

Date: Friday night, June 30, 2017

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

Donation

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

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EVENT! Come Meet Me And See My Art!

Are you going to be in the Atlanta area at the end of June?

A momentous thing is happening in my life and you can be part of it! I have been invited to take part in a showcase with other Atlanta artists. It’s a casual event open to the public. I’ll be there showing my original art and selling various prints. You can hang out with me and other awesome Atlanta artists who are sharing their work too. There will be live music and a relaxed, creative community atmosphere.

EVENT DETAILS

Host: FamilyHood ATL

Date: Friday night, June 30, 2017

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

I have been hard at work for the last month creating new art for this showcase. Even if you’re familiar with my work, you’ll see some new things that reflect my changing views on life.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I hope to see you all there!

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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