ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: JESSICA UTLEY

How long have you lived in Tallahassee (Leon County) and if not raised here where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Fort Myers, FL and moved to Tallahassee about 5 years ago. 

How did you know you wanted to be an artist? 

I honestly believe that my brother was my biggest influence from a young age when it came to creating art. My older brother Jeff is 4 and a half years older than me and he is an AMAZING sketch artist. In my eyes he can sketch anything he looks at and witnessing that talent firsthand at a young age, completely drew me into art. I would see how he would lose himself in his drawings, and I thought to myself, I need that! I wanted that outlet to mentally lose myself in and express myself. I unfortunately have yet to develop the sketching talent that my brother has but, instead I developed a tenacity to create with paints. 

What inspires you to create? 

Colors and nature truly inspire my creativity. There have been times that I will walk on the beach and the yellow and pink sunset in front of me, above a deep blue ocean just makes me want to capture that view. The relationship of colors and how their combinations affect your emotions is powerful and sometimes I paint large abstract pieces of art just because, I saw the colors previously in nature and just want to see them again together on a canvas. I have also painted pieces based on the emotions tied to the scene. One example would be a large abstract piece on canvas of an approaching storm in a forest ( Name of painting: In the woods with Cruising) My fiancé for my birthday once took me horseback riding and my horses name was “Cruising” well, we were in the woods and it started to rain while we were riding and the view of this dark grey sky approaching us in a lush rich green forest captured me. I suppose for me it was the appeal of the dark grey and lush green colors blending, and emotionally I felt free riding that horse, in the rain, in the middle of the woods and it was such a beautiful scene I came home immediately and started painting. 

What is your favorite medium to work in? 

I love them all, but it really depends on what I am trying to create. If something is challenging and detailed, I like to use oils. Oil mixes well with other oils and it glides on to canvases with great ease and it has some of the most vibrant pigments of color. But If I want to be abstract and give amazing textures and mix all sorts of colors together then I use acrylics. The acrylics are easy to handle and dry very quickly. Then, I love watercolors for small, detailed pieces of art. My next goal is to effectively learn graphic design to use as a medium. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of painting? 

There are so many rewarding aspects of painting. For me though, I love the fact that when I create something it is one of a kind. Knowing that whatever I just made never existed in this universe until I created it. That is what is rewarding, and the learning process is incredibly humbling and rewarding as well. I remember when I first started painting, I was having huge problems with proportions, but I took a class and the instructor taught me how to use a grid system and now I apply that simple technique in almost all of my paintings that are not blatantly abstract. For me that knowledge was power to create what I thought I was not capable of creating. When you look at a complex piece of art it all had to start somewhere and when you have the will to learn you will find that you’re capable of things you always thought were unachievable. So, in short art is rewarding to me because I’m still not a master of it by any means but I have the will to keep learning and things that intimidate me now will be the techniques that I will conquer in a year or ten years, but when I do conquer that technique and understand it well. That is when I am rewarded ... you see the fruits of your labor in art. Just like anything else in life if you give it your time and attention and step out of your comfort zone you will be rewarded. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of ‘creating art’? 

Oh my goodness, what a question. I believe failing has been the hardest aspect to face. I think I am extremely hard on myself and I have failed a lot at art. There have been so many times that I have tried to paint a beautiful, picturesque scene and my painting comes out looking nothing like what I was trying to accomplish. I have walked away from paintings and placed them in a closet for over a year, until I had the courage to come back and try again. If I failed and then decided to give up on a piece then that would be easy, but to keep coming back and trying over and over and over again failing repeatedly until I capture the beauty that I am trying to convey... The true challenge is to never give up on your goals! 

Do you have any suggestions for people that want to paint but do not know how to get started? 

Please go to a craft store, spend 15 dollars on materials and do not censor yourself.... Just create. I have spoken to many friends of mine who will not dare pick up a paint brush because they feel like they are not good or good enough to paint in general and I believe that is such a shame. You do not have to share your work with anyone. But the point is do not hold yourself back. Ask yourself if you really want to paint something, why haven’t you? And then get out of your own way and just create something. YouTube tutorials are great to watch too, if you’re trying to figure out a technique but honestly, I would say buy the least expensive materials just to start and play with the paint on a canvas and see where it takes you. 

What inspired you to paint the Oyster Series? (This print series is available for purchase on our website and in-store) 

The oyster series was inspired by my love for the ocean and actually the first oyster I ever painted was the first time I ever painted with watercolors. So, I realized when I painted Oyster Series # 1, I figured I was on to something with watercolors and it is all history from there. I love the way the oysters can work with the colors I use and they are a great way to take something like an oyster and make it a staple in another ocean lovers home. 

Do you have a motto? or favorite quote? you would like to share? 

Pablo Picasso was quoted saying “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”. I absolutely love that statement because it is probably one of my favorite reasons for loving art, there are no rules. For me I like following my own mind and not being told what to create. It is liberating to express oneself without censors and it’s great to study color palettes and see what goes well together, then challenge that concept, create something that isn’t traditional or something that people weren’t expecting. I also believe the best artists are the ones that keep their own agenda and challenge what they are told. 

What do you like to do when you are not ‘creating art’? 

I really love the beach and would live there 24/7 if I could. I try to replenish myself with tranquility when I am not working and being out in nature is where I like to spend my time. I also love my fiancé and his family, me being in a situation where I am away from my family, I love going over to my fiancés families houses and all of us hanging out together. I have realized as I’ve gotten older anytime spent with family is something to cherish. 

How would you describe your 'fashion’ style? 

Comfortable and presentable. I like being effortless with my wardrobe and I am not someone who usually makes time to match everything I own. I believe in having staple pieces in your wardrobe that can go with everything and look great. 

As a Rebels’ customer, what is one or more of your favorite purchases and why? 

My favorite Rebels purchase is a black linen maxi dress that is casual but dressy. When I wear it I receive so many compliments, the owners of Rebels have a great eye for fashion forward pieces. 

What do you enjoy most about living in the Tallahassee area? 

I love the people in Tallahassee. I have gotten to know some very inspiring individuals and they make this city so fun for me to be in.