Jessica Petty is a young artist with a realistic style. She is a trained illustrator with leanings toward figurative work. What caught my eye about Petty’s work is her mythological figures and narrative work. A modern take and reinvigoration of stories we all should know. Petty works at the Johnson Atelier in Hamilton, please catch her work now.
You make art with symbolism, mythology and iconography. Why?
I grew up reading stories that are based around symbolism, and mythologies, and was exposed early to different religions and cultures that use imagery to tell their stories. When I started traveling. I saw the places that these stories were based on and are still thriving.
I like Greek mythologies specifically because their gods and goddesses weren’t glorified as perfect beings. They tend to be more humanized by making mistakes in how they interacted with the human world.
Which is your favorite media?
My favorite medium is scratchboard. I really enjoy the challenge of it and creating very detailed illustrations with texture. I like that I have to slow down and be very decisive in the placement of my strokes.
Who influenced you artistically?
I like Renaissance artists such as Caravaggio and Botticelli, in how they portray their figures within their environments, using contrast in lighting and color. It’s amazing how they can move their audience’s eyes so seamlessly around the canvas and command their attentions and emotions. I aspire to be able to do that with my work.
Also by Gustave Dore and his illustrations of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, and by contemporary artist, Barry Moser for his detail.
How does working at the Johnson Atelier influence your personal work?
Working there has made me a more confident artist. It has made my color theory and painting abilities much stronger. It has allowed me to branch out with my own work and to experiment with techniques and products. It has also taught me to think out of the box. That it is OK when something fails, and to go back and rethink, how did this fail did and how can I do it differently? When I first came to the Atelier, the people were welcoming and opened their artistic community to me. They are amazingly creative and hardworking friends that have taught me so much.
I also travel a lot for work. Just last year I was in Florida, Illinois, England and some other places setting up and restoring life sized and large 30-foot sculptures.
What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?
I struggle with time and energy to work, as well as trying to self-promote and “put myself out there”. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m really trying to step out of my comfort zone to do so. When I do, I have gotten a lot of positive responses and feedback.
Quarantine has allowed me the time to produce work. I have an ongoing list of ideas and paintings, and this quarantine has allowed me to start that list. It has also allowed me to start self-promoting more. While we’re all in isolation, and having anxieties about COVID-19, I’ve looked to art to escape it. Art has always been very meditative for me.
What is your dream project?
I would like to create a massive mural-like illustration using pieces of scratchboard put together. I want it to be like a Bosch painting where there is so much detailing and imagery that you have to look at it closely to see all the narratives taking place. I would like it big enough to fill a large wall. I want my audience to be swept away by a different world and scenery that all seamlessly work together and to command their attentions and emotions. It’s something that I’ve had planned many years ago and the only thing that’s held me back is time and money.
What is most fun about being an artist?
I think that being an artist is that it’s like having a superpower. I work with people who are not artists, but have an idea in their heads. They don’t know how to convey it. I help them with my abilities and together we create a design they love. Super!
For more on Jessica Petty, check out her Instagram @jpettyart24, website jpettyart.com or email email@example.com.