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Art & Life with Jessica McClendon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica McClendon.

Jessica, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I started drawing when I was eight. It was just a hobby at first…a way to affirm myself and say to people “look what I can do.” As I grew older, art became my safe place, my mediation, my visual journal. It was the only thing I did where I felt fully and truly myself. I never wanted to be a professional artist, per say. I wanted to save lives or have some other grand career. My art was just for me. As I got older and experienced more of the world, living in multiple places, traveling extensively and working numerous jobs, I always came back to art. I finally decided that I would give it a try as a career only four years ago, receiving my MFA from TWU. It’s been a long, hard journey. It feels like I’ve lived multiple lives and have been so many different people. But I can say that today, I am exactly where I want to be, and if seven year old me could see me now, she would be ecstatic.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am an oil painter mostly. Light and shadow and how it plays on my subject is the main component that gets the creative juices flowing.

Simply put, I paint people. I paint people because I find people to be incredibly beautiful. Most of us judge human beauty strictly on what we find sexually attractive. I don’t see it so binary I suppose. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors are absolutely stunning. The wrinkles in the skin, the blemishes…all of it is gorgeous when the light hits it right.

I guess my message may be just as simple. Love. What do people want more than anything else? To be seen. To be loved. I love my fellow man by turning them into masterpieces. I paint them and say, “look at how beautiful you are.” Most people don’t see themselves as works of art. But we are.

My most recent body of work was created by an open call for selfies on Instagram. I painted strangers and loved ones. Their photo, my brush. It’s more of a collaboration than just “my thing”. That makes me happy.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
Success for me is this: Am I doing what I love? Am I doing it to the best of my ability? Can I financially survive?

I think in order to be successful at anything, you need an incredible amount of determination and the willingness to suffer. Being great at anything never comes easy. It takes years and years of not giving up.

I also believe that humility is needed. Art can quickly become a place for self-aggrandizement and self-centered thinking. It’s important to remember that there is enough room in the world for everyone’s artistic vision, that our way of expression isn’t more valid than someone else’s and hopefully, there will always be someone better in order to challenge growth.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The “open call for a selfie” body of work will be on display in a solo exhibition at Fort Works Art in Fort Worth, TX this November. I post weekly on Instagram keeping people updated on what is happening in my studio. My Instagram is @todayinthestudio.

Private lessons is another thing that takes up some of my time, and I also work a lot on commissions for people. I really enjoy taking someones idea and creating something beautiful.

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1 Comment

  1. Dianne T Fossen

    October 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Fantastic is all I can say!!!

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