Join me for a tour of my studio! I’ll walk you through how I set up my studio with different stations for acrylic, oil, watercolor, and drawing. Since I’m a mom and have another job, I have to be pretty ruthless about my studio time. I keep everything organized in a way that I can get right to work.
Thanks for joining me! If you know anyone who’d like to visit my studio, please share.
Here is a list of books, in no particular order, that I like and keep on my bookshelf for when I need inspiration, a boost, or just a kick in the pants. I’ve linked each one of these to its listing on Amazon, but I encourage you to go find these at your local bookshop instead!
I’m excited to share with you that Happenings CLT featured me as their Carolina Art Crush today. Thank you to Grace Cote and the Happenings CLT team for the write-up! Read the interview below:
HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
Jessica Singerman: empathetic, obsessive, driven
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
JS: While I’ve always made things, it wasn’t until the birth of my son five years ago that I understood the importance of making work consistently. In that time I basically went from being a highly trained hobbyist to being a professional artist.
In college and graduate school, I painted and drew all the time, but after grad school I had a hard time figuring out what to do and I painted sporadically. Two months into motherhood, I realized I was losing my sense of self, and the most obvious way for me to regain it was to make work every single day. I started making little drawings and paintings, small projects that I could finish in one sitting. We lived in Australia at the time, and I had very few materials with me. I kept a small box of watercolors and drawing materials on the dining room table, and would pull them out to work as soon as my son would go down for a nap.
When we moved back Stateside, I was eventually able to get sizeable studio space and my work subsequently grew in scale. I now understand that art comes from working regularly rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. I learned that I’m a better version of myself when I am sustaining a creative practice.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
JS: There are so many things that motivate me to work and artists whose work inspires me. Richard Diebenkorn and the Bay Area Figurative Artists of the 1950’s and 60’s, Amy Sillman and Cy Twombly are my art heroes. Mary Oliver’s poetry, the way she writes about nature and about the human experience resonates with me. As far as the what, the outdoors, specifically riding bikes, hiking, and running are what fuel my work most directly. My experience outside – the light, colors, weather, seasons, the feel of the air – all of these sensations play into my work.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work.
JS: My paintings are abstract with references to nature: mountains, forests, fields, and big skies are conjured through layers of shape and line in vivid color. For my large pieces on canvas and panel, I use oil and acrylic paint. With smaller works on paper, I use a variety of media: watercolor, graphite, ink, and collage for example. My work is inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
JS: The community of artists in the Carolinas is fantastic. It’s a hard-working, supportive bunch, and I’m fortunate to be part of such a vibrant community of people.
Since I now live in Winston-Salem, I particularly enjoy visiting the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, an incredible resource. They curate inspiring and thought-provoking exhibits, and admission is free. The grounds and trails around the museum are open to the public. The center also generously allows the local cycling community to run a series of races each fall. This is pretty amazing considering that we mark trails and put up course tape all over the grounds once a week for an entire month.
HCLT: What is your number one art piece/place/event in this area?
JS: Reynolda House and Gardens, also in Winston-Salem: Not only do they bring in fabulous exhibits, but the gardens and walking trails are always open and feel like a respite from the city. Full of orchids, succulents, herbs, and all sorts of other colorful plants, the greenhouse there is dare I say it, magical.
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
JS: I always have a big stack of books on the nightstand and on the floor by the bed. Currently I’m working my way through Roar, a sports physiology book for female athletes by Dr. Stacy Sims, Mary Oliver’s Upstream, The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair, and Ann Powers’ Good Booty, on sex, race, and music in America. There’s also another stack of books I’m rereading to write a blog post.
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte area?
JS: I grew up in Davidson, and the Soda Shop holds a special place in my heart because I got some of my first taste of freedom there. I was allowed to walk there with friends sometimes after elementary school, and it made me feel like a “big kid.” Also, their “Big O” drink is delicious.
In Charlotte, my paintings will be exhibited at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art’s March Invitational, opening on March 2nd. You can find out more at www.eldergalleryclt.com, Instagram @elder_gallery_clt, and Facebook @eldergalleryclt
2017 was a pretty crazy year. When all was said and done, it was a good year for me and my family, and as I regroup and lay out some plans for 2018, I am feeling thankful. So let’s take a look at all that happened in the last twelve months:
Some of my work was selected to be shown in the Intersections + Transformation juried exhibition at the Womble Carlyle Gallery in Winston-Salem in the fall. I shared the space with a small group of wonderful artists whose work I admire and who I am lucky to call my friends.
In the fall I launched my E-commerce site, making it easier for collectors to see my available work and to more seamlessly purchase it.
I served as Interim Director at the Diggs Gallery at Winston Salem State University during the fall semester.
At the beginning of the year, I published my first book, Little Watercolor Squares, a love story to life and painting inspired by the poetry of nature.
My family bought a house this summer – with a fabulous studio, a darkroom for Tim, and plenty of storage. YES!!!
And thanks to my collectors and friends who bought paintings, drawings, prints, and books, I was able to donate 5% of all my sales to Yadkin Riverkeeper, a local non-profit that “seeks to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action.” THANK YOU!
I’m happy to share this with all of you. Thank you so much for reading and for your support. It means the world to me.
While I’ve been making things since as long as I can remember, I’ve also been training and racing since I was a kid. I’m still trying to figure out the relationship between athletic performance and creativity as an artist, but in the meantime there are some habits I have learned as an athlete that serve me well as an artist.
Show up. You can’t win if you’re not at the starting line. In this case, winning means making the work. If you exhibit your work, find avenues to show it.
2. Commit. Started something? See it through. It’s ok to have multiple projects going on, but make sure you finish them.
3. Setbacks will happen. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
4. Learn from your mistakes. If something doesn’t work, move on. Try another approach. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP.
5. Strengthen your mindset. Practice staying positive.
6. Keep working on basic skills. It’s helpful to return to basics every so often to keep your skills and your eyes sharp.
7. Cross train. If you are primarily a painter, draw or make three-dimensional things. Do other stuff that feeds into your artwork. Read. Go for a hike, a bike ride, a run – something that will get you moving and out of the studio. You will get your best ideas when you are not in studio.
8. Walk away. When we do something for hours on end and things aren’t going well, it’s hard to see clearly what’s happening. When you can’t figure out what to do, get some space from it. That may mean just taking a few steps back to get some distance. Or it may mean working on another project or getting out of the studio to come back with fresh eyes.
9. Fear: As an artist, you might be afraid of using a certain medium, afraid of color, afraid of showing your work, afraid of failure, or afraid that you’re not making the right decision. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Fear can be a good indicator that you are stretching yourself. On the other hand, some fear is helpful to keep us from doing stupid stuff. Learn to tell the difference.
10. Keep a regular schedule, whether that means late night, early morning, or middle of the afternoon studio time. Stick to your schedule.
11. Be kind to yourself. You can only go so far if you don’t sleep enough, eat right, and get exercise. You can only burn the candle at both ends for so long. Don’t feed into that starving artist myth.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I made a small painting using a photo I took during a hike on Pilot Mountain as reference. A few weeks ago during a particularly snowy patch, my family went on a day hike up and around one of our favorite spots: Pilot Mountain. This rocky hill that rises abruptly out of its surroundings (called a monadrock) is a place where we love to hike, picnic, and camp. It was historically used as a navigational landmark by the area’s first inhabitants.
They appropriately named the mountain “Jomeokee” or “great guide.”
During our hike I was struck by the contrast between the stark lines of the trees against the softer shapes of rock, patches of snow, and sky. This is how the painting progressed.
If you found this interesting, please share. Thank you for reading!
“Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.”
Teresita Fernández is a sculptor and installation artist who explores the connection between nature and technology. She received the prestigious MacArthur fellowship in 2005, and gave the keynote speech at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in 2013. In this inspiring speech she goes into what it means to be an artist and ends with ten practical tips for artists. To read more and to listen to the speech, visit Brain Pickings.
Thank you to Lisa O’Donnell, the Winston-Salem Journal, and Relish for publishing a story about my work today. The article is below or check it out on the Journal website.
Shortly after giving birth to her son five years ago, artist Jessica Singerman had a revelation.
“I realized I was losing my sense of self,” said Singerman, 37. “The most obvious way to get it back was to start making art every single day rather than sporadically. I regained my sense of self, and I wanted to show my son, as he grew up, that I was hardworking.”
It’s doubtful anyone would question Singerman’s work ethic. For years, she worked for an outdoors adventure group, leading bicycle trips through Europe. She has scaled that back to about one trip a year, with the birth of her son, but still designs trips for the group. This semester, she is also working as interim director of Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University.
Once her son goes to bed, she retreats to her home studio around 8:30 p.m., to paint for about three hours.
“At this point, I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a professional artist, how to make a living as a fine artist,” said Singerman, who grew up in Davidson and France.
She and her husband, Tim Bowman, who is a staff member of the UNC School of Arts’ film department, moved to Winston-Salem about two years ago.
Singerman’s art can be viewed and bought at her website, www.jessicasingerman.com/shop. Her work is also at Sunnyside Mercantile, 724 N. Trade St.
Q:How would you describe your art?
Answer: My paintings are abstract with references to nature: mountains, forests, fields and big skies are conjured through layers of shape and line in vivid color. For my large pieces on canvas and panel, I use oil and acrylic paint. With smaller works on paper, I use a variety of media: watercolor, graphite, ink and collage for example. My work is inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons and the passing of time.
Q:How have you evolved as an artist?
Answer: My working habits have changed as I have gotten older. I now understand that art comes from working regularly rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. It’s about showing up every day, making mistakes, exploring, plugging away at paintings and drawings until the good stuff happens — the magic. I trust my process. If I set out to work on a large painting, I know it will go through a variety of stages before it is complete. Some of these stages are pretty awful-looking and some have interesting things happening. A finished painting strikes a balance between refinement, roughness, drama, romance and awkwardness — this is what makes it beautiful and human.
Q:Who has influenced your art?
Answer: The artists whose work I study most often are Richard Diebenkorn and the Bay Area Figurative Artists of the 1950s and ’60s, Amy Sillman and Cy Twombly. Mary Oliver’s poetry is an influence. My parents have been steadfast supporters of my work as an artist — and have influenced my work ethic. They are both hard-working people who have always and still work — day in and day out — without complaining. They are positive and forward thinking about their work, even when it’s difficult or doesn’t go the way they planned.
Q:What is your biggest challenge?
Answer: I imagine it’s the same challenge most working parents deal with. I’d like to spend more time with my son. I work two day jobs in addition to painting and running the business side of art making, which is a small business in itself. On the one hand, I want to demonstrate a hard work ethic for my son and keep growing my art career. On the other hand, I’d like to spend more time with him.
Q:What does art do for you?
Answer: Painting connects me to the world. When I paint, I am a part of something bigger than myself, a whole lineage of painters and artists and the current community of artists who explored and continue to explore what it means to be human through their work.
When I am working, I am drawn into a realm that transcends me. I am reminded about what is real and what matters most. It is through painting that I can quiet my mind, make sense of life, and explore spirituality. Making art is my voice.
Q:Any advice for other artists?
Answer: Show up. Don’t wait for inspiration. If you have to get a day job, get one that leaves you with enough mental energy to still do your artwork. Get in the studio even when you’re tired. Work your ass off. Prioritize your time in the studio. Have your work space always ready so you can get to work quickly. If you don’t have a dedicated work space, pack a kit with your supplies that you can easily move around as needed. Stay consistent. Keep chipping away at your work. Even 15 or 30 minutes of work a day can add up to something big if you do it religiously.
Last night we shot the process of painting a series of small works on paper. Working on this particular set of paintings is a meditative process. While I work on pieces like these, I focus and get into a “zone” if you will. For these paintings I used a very limited palette and improvised. During this process I am looking at composition – the way the marks of paint, ink, and graphite interact with each other and the space around them. Elements such as how light or dark a mark is against another mark, the speed of brush marks, the direction in which I pull the brush, all these aspects come into play in the finished piece. I enjoy how paired down this process is – I’m not working with an image or a plan in mind. This is a truly meditative process during which I am 100% focused – all superfluous thoughts fall away. For me, this is the essence of painting and it ties into being in tune with nature. This sense of being in the “zone” or at one with a process is similar to the feeling I get when I am riding my bike or running hard – when all the extraneous noise falls away, and the experience of moving through space becomes the only thing that matters at that very moment.
This post is for artists looking for a professional solution to keep an inventory of their artwork. I use Microsoft Excel, but you could also use Google Docs or Numbers, so this technique is free and pretty painless.
To begin, I used this tutorial to make the basic inventory:
As you build your inventory, be sure to use low resolution images, otherwise the excel document becomes too big and performance slows down.
As I used this method, I made a few modifications to better fit my needs and to make using it a bit more efficient.
In each record, I add the following headings:
Exhibitions: List any exhibitions where the work has been shown.
Place: If the work is at a gallery or has been sold, write that here, including the name of the collector and city/country.
To speed things up, I replace images rather than deleting and entering another. This way the image goes in the right place and doesn’t need to be reformatted again. To do this, right click on an imageand select “Change Picture.” I use this method on each tab after I copy it and in the master inventory sheet.
Also on the inventory sheet, I add hyperlinks to each thumbnail. This way, when you click on each image, you instantly go to that image’s tab. To do this, right click on an image, click “Hyperlink,” select “This Document,” then scroll down to the tab number and select it. Click “OK.” When adding new images in the inventory, you can copy and paste images, replace each image, then right click and select “Edit Hyperlink” to change the links to each new tab number.