Creative Detours

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.

The artwork in the exhibition can be purchased at www.jessicasingerman.com.

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!

High up in its windy nest, oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

Make a watercolor botanical drawing with me

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.

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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!

On painting and making mistakes and ego

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.

The drawings behind the paintings

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.

The appeal of working big and working little

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:
Painting in a field
Working Small
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.
Starting two big paintings
Working Big
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.

Painting an abstract landscape

Here’s a time lapse video showing the process of making an abstract landscape painting. This one was the third in a series of four that I made. You may notice the little drawing pinned up to the right of the painting. This is a loose reference drawing that I made from a friend’s photo of a valley in Spain. The photo really inspired me when I saw it – something about the big space, the layering of shapes of grass, ground, rock, and sky – so I asked my friend if I could make some work inspired by the photo.

If you look closely, you’ll see that part of the way through I swapped my acrylic cart out for my oil painting tabouret. I often start my paintings in acrylic so that I can more quickly put down successive layers of paint (acrylic dries very quickly – for a split second I use a hair dryer to speed up the process), then I move into oil paint which dries much more slowly. Some people are sticklers to one medium over the other, but I think they each have their benefits and drawbacks, and they are ultimately means to an end.  I use what works best for me at any point during the process. Once you start working in oils though, there’s no going back to acrylic. The painting would literally fall apart since acrylic dries too fast for the oil paint to dry properly under it.

I set my camera to shoot once every 10 seconds.

These paintings will be shown at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte, NC along with Paper Mountain and Sky Project. The show opens March 15th!

Private viewing of the “Shape of the Sky” at Salem College

My exhibit of paintings “The Shape of the Sky” is on view at the Elberson Fine Arts Center at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC until October 5th. So if you weren’t able to make it to the opening last Friday, there’s still time to see the show! Watch the video above for a tour of the exhibit.

In these paintings, I continue to explore the intersection of the outdoor experience and painting. The forces of nature are an ongoing source of inspiration in my life and work, and in these paintings, I aim to share that with you and to inspire you.

While the work is on display, you can still purchase the paintings online. They will be marked as sold in the exhibit and shipped the week of October 15th. Visit the Gallery Shop to bring these paintings into your life.

I donate 5% of the sales of my works 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.”

Know someone who’d like these paintings? Please share this post!

“The Shape of the Sky” opens this week

My exhibit “The Shape of the Sky” is on view at the Velma Mason Davis Gallery, Elberson Fine Arts Center, at Salem College from August 27th – October 5th.

The opening reception is on Friday September 7th, from 6:00-8:00 PM. This event is free to the public.

My “Pilot Mountain” and “Forces of Nature” series will be on view. I am inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time. The series of paintings “Forces of Nature” is inspired by the strength of nature and the power of the outdoors. “Pilot Mountain” is a series of works inspired by a snowy winter hike in Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

While the work is on display, you can still purchase them online! They will be marked as sold in the exhibit and shipped the week of October 15th. Follow the Shop link buy these paintings.

I donate 5% of the sales of my works 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.”

Working on a painting

This is a timelapse video of me working on an abstract painting. This is a painting I have worked on for 5 years on and off, and I had just scraped off some paint before going back into it. It was nearly finished by the end of the video.

The painting is sold, but you’ll find prints of it HERE.

If you like this, check out more time lapse videos I made showing how I paint. There’s one HERE and one HERE.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Paintings

I spent a week in July in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Each morning, I woke up early and painted the landscape of fields, farmland, forests, earth, and sky.

Although you may be more familiar with my abstract work, painting and drawing from life are an important part of my practice as an artist. Observing the effects of light on color and shape, and translating that into paint keeps my eyes and hand sharp. These images work themselves into my abstract pieces as well – a memory of a particular color or shadow or shape – all these elements play into my abstract paintings.

Each 7.5 x 10.75 inch painting is oil on wood panel and is available for $550 including shipping to the US. $650 includes shipping anywhere else in the world.

If you’d like to purchase one of these paintings for your collection or to share with a friend, click on the images below to visit the gallery shop.

“Wednesday Morning, Valley Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018 – This painting is SOLD
“Tuesday Morning, Roush Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Thursday Morning, Beagle Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Sunday Morning, Beagle Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Monday Morning, Roush Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Saturday Morning, Meadow Lane”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Friday Morning, Deodate and Old Hershey”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
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