Jessica is a self-taught artist. She loves exploring nature and has been an avid sketcher since childhood. She has also has a small business creating custom portraits of people and homes. Jessica lives in the east end of Toronto with her husband and two young sons.
by Alan Li
Which artist do you admire the most?
I really admire a Toronto based illustrator and cartoonist named Jillian Tamaki. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since I came across her illustrations online about 12 years ago. Watching her work evolve over that time and seeing how open she is about her process has really inspired me to start drawing every day and given me confidence to experiment with my drawings.
What’s your current favourite work(s) of art?
I just came across a whole body of work that I wasn’t aware of by my favourite painter Andrew Wyeth called the Helga Pictures. It’s a series of drawings and paintings he made over the course of 15 years of a female neighbor named Helga who he was inspired by. It combines portraiture and landscape art, both of which I love, so I’m really excited to learn more about it.
What excites you most about drawing?
I like how drawing can capture a subject in a way that a photo can’t. For example, as my kids have gone from babies to little boys, the quick sketches and drawings I had done of them doing everyday things like playing with their toys or exploring outside are so evocative of those times, and help me recall little details. It’s similar with nature drawing – once you’ve sat in front of something in nature and drawn it, you will never look at it the same way and the drawings themselves help bring to mind that experience.
Do you always carry a sketchbook?
No, but it’s a habit I want to start!
What’s something unexpected that you’ve learned?
How much you can improve by making drawing a habit every day. You might not see it day by day, but it’s amazing when you look back over an entire year’s worth of work.
Any routines that you follow?
I try to make time to draw at some point every day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. I enjoy sharing my art on Instagram so that friends and anyone else who is interested can see it, rather than just keeping it to myself. I’ve found that Instagram is great for seeing what artists I admire are working on, as well as to find new artists and art-related events.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m teaching the spring session of the Nature Sketch program for the Bateman Foundation. It’s my first time teaching and I’ve been busy working with both kids and adults. All of the students have been creating amazing sketches and the art exhibition at the end of the program is going to look incredible!
Where is your favourite green space in Toronto?
In the east end of the city we’re really fortunate to have easy access to the beach and so many parks. One of my favourite spots to visit is Taylor Creek Park. I love that my family can go for a hike along the creek within a few minutes’ drive from our home.
What’s next for you?
I want to keep developing my drawing skills, trying new things with my art, and growing my portrait-drawing business. I’m really excited about the LUNA project because it combines my love of art with my interest in environmental issues and urban geography.
To learn more about Jessica, please visit her website: www.jkrecklonaidu.ca