Ask an Artist: Jessica Lee Ives
May 4, 2020
1. How did you end up focusing on your chosen medium?
I took an evening oil painting class as a freshman in high school and fell hard. Oils were my first love and have been my only love. When dabbling in other mediums — printmaking, book arts, calligraphy, gouache — I can feel my thinking brain and act with a heavy hand. I’m aware of making the medium do. what. I. want. But what I want is...so limited! Bore-ing. When I paint in oil I definitely can’t do what I want, and because of this some of the limits get thrown off. The medium has a mind of it’s own. There’s mystery, surprise, and hugely humbling moments. Applying oil paint on a surface between four edges is my controlled way to grapple with letting go of control.
2. Tell me about an inspiration to your work? Book, exhibit, experience.
Going to massage school was hands-down (pun intended) the best decision I’ve made in my art career. When the direction of my paintings demanded that I learn to paint the human body more effectively, I put the brushes down and got busy with anatomy, kinesiology, and palpation. Finding an oblique way to confront a creative challenge can be exponentially effective. Not painting for a full year and diving deep into the living, breathing reality of my subject was the best experience I’ve ever had as an artist and I draw inspiration, confidence, and humility from it continuously.
3. What do you listen to when creating in the studio? Favorite music, podcast, radio, audiobook?
I love listening to podcasts! They keep my thinking brain busy so I can drop into a flow state more easily and just move with the paint. Plus, I get to maintain that oblique approach to learning about my subject matter with podcasts about somatics, movement ecology, rewilding, traditional ecological knowledge, and quantum biology.
4. What is your favorite tool/supply? Or is there a non work related item in the studio that has significant value to you.
A window, any window! I only paint with natural light. Also, a window with a long view allows me to take intermittent eye breaks, balancing the near work I do as a studio painter with distance looking in order to maintain the health of my eyes.
5. How does your studio process change with the seasons in Maine? Do you ever take an extended break from your art practice?
There’s less daylight hours in the winter and therefore less time for painting when only using natural light in the studio. In the summer, although wonderfully long light cycles are present, the season itself is short in Maine and so there’s a rush to fit in all the swimming, hiking, and fishing adventures that fuel my paintings. I make most of my work in the spring and fall when both light and time are more moderately available.
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