My family really enjoys watching the wildlife in our backyard right now – the squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and birds of all kinds – busily and sometimes loudly living their lives. If you’re in Winston-Salem, NC this weekend, I invite you to an art exhibit fundraiser to benefit Gateway Nature Preserve. Here are the details:
Nature-Inspired Art Exhibit, May 19 – 21 at Culture Studio/Gallery The exhibit kicks off at 7pm on Friday night with an opening reception at Culture Studio/Gallery located on the 9th floor of the Liberty Plaza building at 102 W. Third St. Check out Gateway Nature Preserve’s website for more info about the event, and scroll down to see the artworks I’m contributing to the exhibit.
Can’t make it this weekend, but still want some artwork that supports the environment? I donate a portion of my art sales each year to Yadkin Riverkeeper, so any purchase through my Shop benefits this nonprofit that helps keep our waterways clean.
I spent a long weekend camping with my family at one of our favorite spots, Pilot Mountain State Park. We love spending time in this special place, and we hike there year-round.
We went to the summit one evening just before sunset and I couldn’t resist shooting a short video to share this landscape with you. The first views above are from that evening, looking toward Winston-Salem and then the Blue Ridge.
The second view is from one of our hikes in the morning, of Hanging Rock and Sauratown Mountain toward east of Winston-Salem. One of the unique aspects of this spot is that as you do different hikes in the park, you’ll have the chance to see 360 degrees of landscape from Pilot Mountain. Since the mountain’s rocky formation juts out of the surrounding hills, it’s not surprising that it was used as a navigational landmark and was called Jomeokee or “great guide” by the area’s first inhabitants.
My family and I often have interesting conversations as we walk. One of the ideas that came up was the meaning of the words grit and resilience. My husband took the position that they are one and the same. I argued they aren’t, but that there is overlap and that the two qualities can go hand in hand. In the last year since the pandemic hit, I’ve been thinking of resilience a lot. I didn’t realize it until relatively recently, and it feels like an important quality to cultivate now. Anyway, my brother, being the rational person he is, recommended we simply look up the definitions. So here they are from my good old American Heritage College Dictionary:
*grit: indomitable spirit; pluck
resilience: the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy
I often feel gratitude to have such beautiful places just a short drive away from home. Spending time at Pilot Mountain walking and looking and listening fills me with contentment and with inspiration for my work. Now it’s back to the studio!
Find some paintings inspired by my time at Pilot Mountain here and bring some peaceful energy of the outdoors into your space.
*I like the way Angela Duckworth talks about grit in her aptly named book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. You can watch her TED talk here.
For the paintings in my exhibit at SECCA, “I must love you very much” I did a bit more planning than I normally do. To be honest, I don’t typically plan my paintings, but for these paintings I did have a specific feeling that I wanted. I liked the idea of making a group of paintings big enough to surround viewers such as Monet’s “Water-Lilies.” Some of his water lily paintings were mural sized works that filled specially made rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.
I’ve been obsessed with Pilot Mountain for a couple of years, and have made a lot of paintings inspired by the place, but they were smaller works. For this project, I wanted to make paintings so big that a person looking at them would have the feeling of being transported to Pilot Mountain. While I’m not interested in creating a photo-realistic image of the place, I am interested in evoking the myriad sensations we feel when we are there.
To determine the size of the paintings, I measured the space I had available for my exhibit at the museum. I planned to make the paintings as large as I could make them while still leaving a bit of white space – or breathing room – around each one. I made four paintings, one for each wall.
After determining their size and taking reference photos on some hikes, I made preliminary watercolor drawings to loosely plan out the composition for each of the four paintings. I used a photo as the first point of reference, then reinterpreted the image by looking for the essential shapes that I would use in my paintings. As I worked on the large paintings, I referred to these drawings as a sort of map to give structure to my paintings. These are those drawings:
Want to see how I made these paintings? Check out this time-lapse video I made documenting the process.
It’s my pleasure to announce that my first solo museum show opens at SECCA in Winston-Salem next month. Read on for the press release with all the juicy details…
(August 20, 2019, Winston-Salem, NC) Award-winning painter Jessica Singerman announces her exhibit of paintings entitled I MUST LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, opening at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) on September 17 and continuing through October 13. The opening reception takes place on Thursday September 19, from 6:00-8:00 PM, with an artist talk at 7:00 PM. Artwork will be available for purchase.
In Singerman’s monumental paintings, layered shapes meet muscular paint handling and a bold use of color to evoke a vast landscape and memories of time spent in the outdoors.
Says Singerman of these paintings, “There’s a line from a Mary Oliver poem that goes “If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.” Her writing cuts to the essential about what matters and what I hope to share in my work. It feels especially poignant these days – our world feels crazy and I’m afraid to lose the lands I love so much. One of my favorite such places is Pilot Mountain State Park. It inspires my work with its beauty as it overlooks the landscape surrounding it. This group of paintings came from time I spent hiking there with my family – views from the trail-side and of a pastoral landscape – not wild, but full of a vast energy nonetheless.
Mary Oliver’s writing encapsulates something essential about the human condition and about our experience in nature. If my paintings could speak, I like to think Mary’s poetry is how they would speak. Or rather, I hope that my paintings get close to the kind of transcendence of her poetry. Marks and color that transcend being and take the viewer to another place – a memory perhaps – and spur them to reflect on what it means to be human and on our relationship to nature. In any case, “if you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”
Arts writer Michael Solender wrote in the Charlotte Observer, “Singerman’s approach to her work and her outlook on life brings a broad perspective as a product of a bicultural upbringing. Her mother is French and her father is American.(…) Her work offers explosions of color, form and light conjuring imagery of motion and depth.”
About the artist: A resident of North Carolina since 1980, Jessica Singerman lived alternatively in France and the United States during her early life. Singerman earned her BA with Highest Honors in 2002 from the College of William & Mary, Virginia, and her Masters of Fine Arts in 2004 from the University of Delaware while on a fellowship. Her watercolors are the subject of a book published in 2017, Little Watercolor Squares, and her award-winning paintings and drawings are exhibited and collected internationally. Singerman lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For more information visit www.jessicasingerman.com.
SOUTHEASTERN CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, including I MUST LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, by Jessica Singerman, September 17 – October 13. Opening reception Thursday September 19, 6:00-8:00 PM, and artist talk at 7:00 PM. 750 Marguerite Dr, Winston-Salem, NC 27106, www.secca.org, 336.725.1904
I’m fascinated by the wind. Cultures create all sorts of stories to try and make sense of the wind and how it affects us. My grandparents lived in Caen, France for a while when I was little. It’s a very windy place, and I will always remember how the wind there made me feel. It tossed me around, made me feel little, and made me feel generally uneasy. On the other hand, winds clean the air, carry scents, and even create power with wind turbines.
I made these paintings as I thought of the wind: how it feels when we’re outside when it’s hot or cold, how it shapes the earth…
The wind is mysterious. It’s such a powerful force and yet we can’t see it.
In these particular paintings, I’m layering shapes and color evocative of landscapes seen both from ground level and from above (from an airplane for example). I also layer gestural marks and shapes of color to convey the energy of the outdoors.
These paintings are currently available from my web shop until August 27th. Find them HERE.
There’s a strong wind called Le Mistral in the south of France.
According to popular culture throughout history, this wind has been accused of everything from making people crazy to inciting murder. So in that vein, here’s an interesting tidbit I found this week… Van Gogh, who famously lived in the south of France, maybe didn’t commit suicide. Recent forensic research shows that he may have been instead murdered by a local group of kids who used to bully him… Read more about why this could be true, how the story of his suicide came about, and why a lot of folks are angry about it on the Charmed Studio and on Vanity Fair.
If you found this the least bit interesting, please share it with others. Thanks!
I moved around a lot as a kid. My mom is French and my dad is American, so we lived both in the US and France for a few years at a time. I didn’t feel like I fit in in either country. We also spent a lot of time doing outdoor stuff. We hiked, camped, ran, rode bikes, and played a lot of imaginary games outside. I remember building tree houses, making magic potions with mud and flowers, and pretending to be on secret missions and outdoor expeditions. I may have also made a fire in the middle of our backyard so I could make s’mores and cook beans in a can. (Don’t tell my parents.) Anyway, when I was in the outdoors, I was at home. No matter what country I was in, when I was doing stuff outside, I felt at home.
Growing up, I also spent a lot of time drawing and making things. Looking back, I realize that the experience of making things was and still is the same for me: I am focussed, nothing else matters except for what I am making at that moment, and in the best case scenario, I am in a state of flow. This feeling of being in the moment and fully engaged with my environment and what I am doing is similar to my experience when I am enjoying the outdoors. Whether in a forest or on a mountain top, what resonates with me are the feelings of being connected to the world and at the same time, of being small in a vast universe. While I can portray what an outdoor scene looks like by making a landscape painting, through abstraction, I explore what it feels like to be outside.
It’s through making things and being in the outdoors that I am able to connect to the world and to find my place in it. In the outdoors, we are reminded of how small we are in the world. We experience the vastness of the universe and at the same time, the interconnectedness of it all. For me, I don’t feel like my words do these feelings justice. But in my artwork, abstraction in particular, I can explore the human experience in the outdoors, the spiritual element of being in the outdoors – that feeling of both being small and being connected to a vast universe.
Being a human is complicated. Spending time in the outdoors and making things helps me make sense of life – of my place in the world. When I make things, I express what I feel but that I don’t have the words to explain. Through abstraction, I try to communicate the complexity and the vastness of the human experience.
I am obsessed with the outdoors. From a career in the outdoor industry for over a decade to making artwork that is a love letter to nature, my experience outside feeds my soul and my art. The best possible scenario for me is if after looking at my artwork, someone is reminded of the power of nature and is motivated to get outside and feel connected to the earth. If someone can share this experience with another person, that is the absolute BEST.
My newest project PAPER MOUNTAIN & SKY PROJECT creates an immersive outdoor experience. I believe that in an increasingly digital world, it is vital to go outside. My hope is that this installation will encourage people to commune with nature and experience the world directly. This project will give people the opportunity to dream and to experience joy as they share the project with friends and family. I’d love for you to share in this experience too! Click here to find out how.
I walk in the mornings after bringing Noah to school. I look, listen, breathe. I take in the shapes of light and shadow, the myriad greens, the pinks, violets, reds, birdsong, my favorite wind chime. I get as close as I can to birds before they fly away, try to get close enough to see their tiny chests moving with their breath. I look up at the big sky, taking in the sunlight-filled blues, the racing clouds, or the broad plush grays. My morning walks are one of my favorite parts of my day. Moving, feeling the cold or warm air on my face, thinking, sometimes even figuring things out! I take the light, shapes, colors, sounds, smells, back to my studio. I’ll keep trying to filter all of these experiences into my painting.
Today’s enso photographed once over gravel and again on fallen leaves:
I’m enjoying the contrasts between the smooth white of the paper and the burnt red watercolor with the texture of the cool gravel in one image and rough leaves in the other. The shapes and lines made by the gravel and leaves are also a nice counter to the watercolor on the expanse of paper.
I stumbled on a paragraph about the Enso (Zen circle) in a book this morning, and it was like coming home. Pretty funny that my blog is called “Making Circles”, and Enso weren’t even on my radar. I’ve used circular forms so much in my work, and have tried to figure out what it is about the circle that I am drawn to. The Enso completely makes sense to me, and in a way reaffirms circle-making for me. I like the idea of letting my hand do the work without my mind getting in the way (similar to folding the 1000 cranes). Although they are traditionally painted, I made this one on our walk today.