Sixty-three paintings of skies that cover a 19′ x 17′ gallery wall – This is the latest project I’m working on. The project took different forms as I worked through my ideas over the course of the last year, but now it’s finally happening: actual paintings to install on an actual wall. I’ll share the story behind the project as it develops, but first I wanted to ask you:
We’ve gotten used to the concept of sponsored athletes, but what about sponsored artists?
I’m not talking about huge corporate sponsors (although I wouldn’t turn that down). What I’m talking about is micro donations so that anyone who wants to support my work can chip in to help make this new project happen.
So what I’m asking is “Would you sponsor this project?”
I’ve teamed up with Buy me a coffee, a platform for crowdfunding through micro donations, and I’ve set up my page with different ways to support my work. You can support the project with $5 or more or you can become a member and support my work with a monthly or even yearly sponsorship.
In this project I am making many smaller parts that as a whole, will create a very large artwork. Your support is also one part out of many parts that will make this project possible.
Everyone who contributes will be credited in the exhibit and on the project page of my website.
Take a look at my page to see the ways you can support my work, and I’d be super grateful if you could share on your social channels and email. Thank you!
The cost of materials (polypropylene paper and acrylic paint) to complete this project is $500. I install the exhibit (this project along with Paper Mountain, Sky Project and other paintings) at Sechrest Gallery at High Point University on October 16-22, so I’m setting a deadline to finish these particular paintings by October 8th. I always plan to finish the actual making of work at least 1 week before installation because this leaves me time to do the myriad things that need to be done before a show goes up.
Big skies… this is the working title for a new project I’m working on. I announced last week that Sechrest Gallery at High Point University invited me to show Paper Mountain, Sky Project and a group of paintings for a solo exhibit in the fall, and installation for the show starts exactly 90 days from today. Because I want to make a lot A LOT of paintings between now and then, I decided what this exhibit needs is a wall-full of paintings – sky paintings to be specific.
So I am making 50 sky paintings that will literally cover one of the gallery walls.
The paintings will be hung in a grid 19ft tall and 17ft wide.
I’ve decided to use acrylic on Yupo, a polypropylene paper. The acrylic dries relatively fast compared to oil paint, so I can easily stack finished paintings as I work. As for the Yupo paper, I like how slick it is to paint on, and I know that it will sit against the wall rather than buckle.
Why am I using paper rather than wood or canvas to make these paintings? I want the images to sit flat on the wall rather than jut out into space like a panel does. I don’t want the objectness of a panel.
I’ll share with you progress on this project as I go, so stay tuned for images as I figure things out.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an image of a sky I particularly like. This is Field and forest with red, one of the paintings from my Tiny Landscapes collection. I enjoy being able to see some of the underpainting of the sky… bits of pink and gold glimpsing through layers of sky and cloud. This little painting is acrylic on wood panel and measures 6×6 inches.
I started running when I was 11 or 12. My dad and I would run down Highway 115 and at the Davidson College track. He taught me to kick at the end of a run and to stretch out stomach cramps on the move. I raced him to imaginary finish lines and we’d laugh because we were having fun and we both knew we were trying to outrun each other. He’d let me win sometimes.
I ran track and cross country in junior high and struggled with shin and knee injuries until one day when I couldn’t move without excruciating pain in my knees after a long run. As athletes we learn to differentiate between discomfort and pain. There is a level of discomfort and sometimes even pain that comes from pushing yourself. And then there is the kind of pain that leads to injuries, and unfortunately it can take a while to figure out the difference. After that long run, I did months of physical therapy to try and solve my nagging knee problems. This competitive streak – with others and with myself – is possibly what has continued this cycle of running and hurting myself over the years.
There is a popular quote incorrectly attributed to Einstein that says “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Don’t ask me who actually said this, because I checked on the internet, and apparently no-one actually knows.
I’ve dreamt of running marathons since I was 14, and I have yet to run one because I keep hurting myself. I still want to run a marathon, and I’d like to do so comfortably. Also I’d like to be able to keep on running for as long as I am able, so it’s time I do things differently.
Last weekend I started running again using a new tactic: running and walking intervals. Coming from an old-school “no pain, no gain” type of mentality, where walking while running is a sign of weakness, I am having to change my way of thinking about running and remove my ego from the equation.
In my current body of work, Searching on the wind, I am also pushing myself to try new and uncomfortable things in painting. My vision is still the same: Ultimately I’d love for my work to get people excited about the outdoors and to get out for a hike or run or ride or really anything outside – and better yet with others.
While making these paintings, one challenge I set for myself was to stick with acrylic paint rather than switching to oil paint part of the way. With acrylic it’s more challenging for me to make the paint do what I can rely on oil paint to do – to easily push it around and for the paint to still have presence on the canvas. Oil paint has more body (it’s thicker and well… more oily) and is naturally more opaque than acrylic paint. While I am able to make paintings that are not obviously either acrylic or oil (a skill that I value), acrylic has traditionally not been as satisfying as oil for me to use. With these paintings, I resisted the urge to switch to oils because I wanted to see if I could get the same paint-feel for myself while sticking with acrylics. This is more of a personal goal rather than something that others will notice, but I think that for my art practice to be sustainable, I have to set parameters, rules or challenges for myself to keep things spicy.
As for the ego thing, this can come into play as an artist. We sometimes want our work to be more than what it is or to show off our skills or to be high-concept. While it is important to me that my work be transcendent – that the finished piece be more than the sum of its parts – it’s also important that the work be honest and not try too hard.The finished piece should feel like it happened naturally, that no elements are extraneous and all are essential. While sometimes maximal is the way to go, with these particular paintings, I wanted a simpler, more elemental feel. I think of these as meditative, poetic paintings that whisper rather than shout.
You can explore the works in the Searching on the wind collection here.
Two years in the making of a painting collection… What started this body of work was a question I asked on Facebook: What outdoor spaces bring you peace and happiness? Friends sent me photos of their special landscapes, and I used those images as a jumping off point to create these paintings.
In this series of landscapes the feel of wide open spaces meets a soft geometry – a meditative play of shapes and colors.
Explore the paintings in the Searching in the wind collection HERE.
Lately I’ve been living and working more slowly. I realized working at a break-neck speed isn’t sustainable or enjoyable anymore, and that since I work for myself, I could give myself permission to work more slowly. The fact is I will always get my work done, so I can choose to take my time and enjoy the process. I’m not a procrastinator, so it doesn’t make sense for me to anxiously work fast anyway. This is all easier said that done however. I realized I needed to slow down in 2020, but it’s taken me a year to actually put it into practice.
I’m also deliberate about not multitasking if I can help it. Most of the time, genuine multitasking isn’t actually as effective as singletasking for me (not sure this word exists, but I’m using it) and at the end of a long work session of multitasking, while I might feel virtuous, everything feels like a bit of a blur, and the process definitely isn’t enjoyable.
There are certainly tasks I can complete relatively quickly and painlessly, but generally speaking these days I’ve been mindful about my thought processes and the way I do things, and I feel overall more content while working and living more slowly. Except on certain designated bike rides when speed is kind of the point of the ride – that’s different.
On that note, here’s what’s happening in the studio right now. And yes, I did mention that I don’t multitask, but I typically do have multiple projects going on at once. I just don’t work on them simultaneously.
I’m working on a series of landscapes where I’m playing with shapes and colors. I’m working slowly, trying to figure out the kind of color-play I want, refining the edges of shapes, thinking about the feel of the surface…
It feels good to take my time and work meditatively. These are the first two in progress.
I started in reds and pinks and oranges, colors that I knew would be mostly covered up and dissonant with the colors in the finished paintings. I like to allow little sections of the underpainting to show between shapes or through brush marks. Now that I’ve covered up most of the underpainting, I’m reworking the colors to fine tune how they relate to each other.
I’m thinking of what I’ve learned through experience over years of painting and back to grad school in one of my favorite and most challenging classes: color theory. In this class we studied the Munsell color system, which breaks down color into three properties or dimensions: value, chroma and hue. The way I put this into practice as I paint is by making some colors darker or lighter (adjusting the value), making some more or less dull (chroma), and in some cases changing the color completely – like turning a violet into green (the hue).
Because the paintings are paired down with a few interlocking shapes, the colors become even more important. I think that as art becomes more minimal, each decision becomes more significant because everything is there to see, plain as day.
As I make changes in color, edges of shapes shift around too: some edges get more crisp and some become softer. This process is both intellectual and intuitive as I think through what I know about color relationships and how I want the paintings to feel.
These paintings feel like an important bridge for me. For years, I’ve been wanting to integrate the landscape with the geometric work I did in my Little Watercolor Squares series. (See some of the paintings here and the book here.) Last year, I made geometric interiors for my show at Elder Gallery. (See that work here.) These new paintings feel like an integration of all that past work, and that feels good. This work isn’t ego-driven. It’s not trying to prove anything. It just is.
On the other wall of my studio are some small paintings I made to test out compositions and colors for this new series. These little guys will be available at the Ardmore Art Walk on May 8th.
The larger painting on the right is a commissioned piece that’s drying. It was inspired by Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Day poem.
To be the first to know when the landscapes above are available, subscribe to my Insider’s List here.
Creative Detours: an exhibition of paintings by Jessica Singerman at the Forsyth County Public Library January 1 – March 31, 2021
(January 11, 2021, Winston-Salem, NC) Award-winning painter Jessica Singerman announces her exhibit of paintings entitled CREATIVE DETOURS, opening at the Forsyth County Public Library on January 1 and continuing through March 31, 2021.
In this collection of paintings, viewers will notice that some are more impressionistic and some have more recognizable elements – the work hovers between abstraction and representation. In this way, Singerman explores the way things look (shapes, colors, line, edges, etc…) and the way things feel (hot sunlight, cold wind, the smell of leaves, birdsong, etc…).
Singerman’s work is inspired by the poetry of nature, color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time. Says Singerman, “All of our senses are awakened when we spend time outside. The rhythm of steps while hiking, the whir and clicks on a bike ride, the changing shapes of light and shadow between trees, the sound of birdsong—the memory of all these impacts on my senses feeds into my process of abstraction. I love to explore my experiences in nature through the elements of color, shape, line and composition.”
Viewers may recognize Singerman’s paintings from the billboard featuring her work on Route 52. She was one of the 2020/2021 Triad region ArtPop Street Gallery winners.
About the artist: 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 award-winning paintings and drawings are exhibited and collected internationally. Singerman lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
FORSYTH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, including CREATIVE DETOURS, by Jessica Singerman, January 1 – March 31. 660 W 5th St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, www.forsyth.cc/library/, 336.703.2665
Find this article on YES! Weekly. Thank you to publisher Charles Womack and to YES! Weekly for the write up!
Hi everyone! Join me as I add watercolor to a botanical drawing. Here I’ll show you how to layer transparent watercolor in a loose relaxed way to add color to your drawings. This is the follow up to my Step-by-step botanical drawing video.
Share this freely!
If you are looking to dive deeper into watercolor, check out my new watercolor class HERE. It’s for all levels and features video lessons you can do at your own pace. See you in class!
One of my favorite artists, Richard Diebenkorn, used to talk about purposefully making “mistakes” in the early stages of a painting. This would give him something to change as he worked. I often think of this as I make paintings. In the early stages of a painting, I’ll purposefully use colors that don’t feel like they go together – or make shapes that aren’t right, so I can make changes as I build up the paintings. This process of searching for an image is something that I enjoy. By working in this way, there is no pressure to get it “right” in one go, and the finished painting is a result of this process of making changes.
Maybe it’s tied to my ego – that I feel I need a certain amount of layers of paint to make it worthy of putting into the world. Maybe when I’m making paintings at 90, they’ll be very minimal Motherwell-like pieces because I’ll have no need to prove anything anymore.
In the meantime, if you want to see some monumental paintings layered with shapes and color and muscular paint handling like my painting above, Try Again, Grow Calmer, you’ll like what I made for you. I designed a brand spankin’ new catalog featuring a collection of paintings that will knock your socks off.
If you’ve ever felt an emotional reaction from looking at abstract shapes and color and wanted to know more, this is for you. Want to get the goods? Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive your copy of this catalog. You’ll find some of my largest, most gut-grabbing paintings set in beautiful spaces with the stories behind them.
Prices increase February 1st, so if you’ve been thinking of adding one of my paintings to your collection, you’ll definitely want to take a look.
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.
People ask me if I prefer working big or small. I do enjoy working on both scales. Each size has its benefits. The experience of making a large or small painting is very different – both for the artist and for the viewer. I choose to work at both scales for the following reasons:
Small work can often be completed in one sitting and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. This makes it particularly well suited for traveling or when you don’t have a dedicated studio space. I used to make small works when we lived in Australia and the contents of my “studio” could fit into a cardboard box that lived on our dining room table. I still make small works when traveling, when I want to work outdoors, or when trying out new ideas. Sometimes smaller work ends up inspiring larger pieces.
When I make plein air paintings – the ones I paint on location – I am making both a small artwork and also in a way, doing research for more abstract work. While I look at a landscape and make the small paintings outside, I build a memory bank of images, shapes, colors, light effects, and even sounds and smells that I can later refer to in more abstract pieces.
For you, the viewer, the experience with a small painting is more intimate than with a large one. Only one person at a time can really savor a small work at close proximity.
A large painting takes much longer to make than a little painting. Even the preparation of the painting surface (canvas or wood panel) takes much longer. It takes a couple of hours to build and stretch a big canvas, and painting each layer of gesso (a kind of primer) takes about 30 minutes compared to just a few minutes per layer for a small painting.
Working on a large painting can be daunting at first – that’s a lot canvas to fill! – but on the other hand, it’s exhilarating to make something larger than myself. I can use my whole body – working crouched close to the ground or reaching out. In the case of super big work like Paper Mountain, I worked with assistants using scaffolding, lifts, and ladders. It’s exciting to create something bigger than we are as humans.
We have a particular experience when we stand far from artwork, and another experience when we are close to it. The piece fills our field of view. I think about this as I make a piece – it’s important to me to create a special experience for viewers of my work. I want to draw you in to examine the work more closely. When I create little surprises in a painting – details that can only be appreciated at close range – I am rewarding you for coming closer. My work is driven by my experience in the outdoors, so when I make something big, I hope that the work transports viewers to the outdoors or a memory of being outside.
Making bigger work requires a longer commitment and focus than making small work. Keeping the energy of the piece going and working through tough spots can be challenging because of the scale of the work. On the other hand, making big work is rewarding just by its sheer scale. There is something special about making something larger than yourself.
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Check out the following blog posts if you’re curious…
This one if you want to see what it’s like to build a super big canvas
This post if you want to see how my team put together Paper Mountain installation. And here’s the project page.
And this post if you want to see how I pack my plein air painting kit in a cigar box.