Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN and earned a BA in American Studies from the University of MN. I’m 36 and I spend most of my “work” time painting landscapes in watercolor.
My second job is managing my two school-age boys. My work is my fun, but I also love music and play piano and bagpipes. I am the musical director/instructor for our local fire fighters’ pipe band. I love traveling, exploring, hiking, and adventuring in whatever ways I can manage.
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes, more or less. I was very dedicated to art in high school, exhausted the art program, did a year of independent study, lots of art shows and awards, etc. I was also focused on academics. I had both art and science teachers pressuring me to pursue their fields, and in the end felt the need to prove myself intellectually.
I am a landscape watercolor painter working in a realistic style to capture a place and time in a manner that conveys the sensory and emotional experience of the subject. I use the watercolor medium differently than many, preferring to work more dry and using a full range of values from very light to very dark and everywhere in between.
Jessica at work
It can vary quite widely. Last week I was the artist in residence at a local arts magnet school, working to paint a 40 x 6 foot exterior mural of a local natural area that the students visit regularly. For this project, I spent the school days working with students, teaching, and painting, but going home at night.
My family and I spent one spring break visiting Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon National Parks. While hiking in Grand Canyon, we stumbled upon the gallery space they maintain for the pieces donated by past AiRs.
At the very least, every AiR’s work benefits the park system by providing an interpretation of the park for visitors who encounter the displayed work. I hoped to do more and pursued an exhibition at the Dahl Art Center in Rapid City, which is located at the edge of the Black Hills and just 80 miles from Badlands.
Because every day is different and residencies can vary, I’ll describe my favorite days during my times in Badlands. I love spending the majority of the day outside, exploring the park.
There are myriad benefits. Traveling for residency offers an isolated physical and mental space that I can’t duplicate at home while caring for my kids and negotiating everyday life. While I am away, I reconnect to myself and become more ‘me’ in a way. My first residency experience caused a bit of an epiphany, and I have managed to retain the more artistic mental space I was in, even while at home.It’s been great.
Know yourself, your desires and needs, and do your research. Make sure the facility hosting the residency is reputable and make sure you are aware of their requirements as well as what your living situation will be. Once you have the logistics worked out, go and have fun!