May 24th, 2017
Jesse Gussow

The first time I saw the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind was with my mother. It left quite the impression on me as I was fairly young. My mother specifically pointed out the way the clouds looked in the film. Since that time I’ve always been fascinated with clouds in film and even more so in art. It seems like such an easy thing to make yet they are challenging. Artist Jessica Vorheis nails them in her work. Her work as a whole reminds me of the first time I saw the film. The colours, the sky, the subject; it’s all very surreal and mesmerizing. Trying to take everything in is a challenge as there's so much going on visually that I find myself inspecting every inch of the painting.


Where are you from?

I'm from Tri-Cities, Washington, USA.


How did you first get started on your artistic journey?

During the summer of 2013, when I lived in Portland, OR, I was out of college and really had quit making any art. But that summer I was approached - well more like pressured - to make one painting a week for a young adult gathering. I made nearly 25 pieces that summer. It was a huge turning point for me. I understood then how to create when I didn't feel like it and to sort of be my own boss.


How would you describe your work?

My paintings have a sense of familiarity, but with my use of abstraction and surreal colors they feel like more of a dream. My work is based a lot on what I'm feeling or going through in life. I hope it encourages those who see it.


What is your preferred medium to work with and why?

I prefer to work in acrylic paint because of the quick dry time mainly.


Who or what has had the biggest impact on your work?

My husband! We've been together almost a decade and the last few years he's really just been pushing me in every aspect of my art, to just go for it with excellence and believing in myself. I used to be notorious for turning down opportunities for fear of having a heavy work load!


Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration everywhere! From this badass all girl motorcycle group on Instagram that I follow, to a bird flying in the sky. More often though, inspiration seems to find me. If I hunt for it too hard it becomes elusive.


What is your process for creating a piece from start to finish?

Each piece starts as a scribble. Some inspiration will come to me and spark an entire scene. I return to my scribbles later to really develop  the idea. I don't really begin the actual paintings until after multiple drawings, each being more refined to suit my vision.


What do you like to do when you are making art?

I like making art early in the day with coffee and comfy clothes on.


What does your artwork say to the viewer?

You'd have to ask them. But I hope it says, "Be comfortable here, whatever season you're in and know that you matter."


Is there a reason that you were drawn to the surreal in your work? If so, why do you think that is?

I've always enjoyed surrealism. It seems more imaginative to me and I love that! From movies, books and art to music and adventure, there is something refreshing about it. It's like, there is more than what meets the eye, there is the spiritual and the celestial and I just want to tap into that. I feel like I could go on and on about it really.


Do you listen to music when working? If so, what do you listen to?

Yes! "The National" is a go-to when I'm wanting a chill-out environment.


How have you grown as an artist? What goals do you have for the future?

I've really become more confident in my own skin, in my story and in showing that through my art. I've become confidently vulnerable, I'll just put it that way.

My goals for the future are to keep making art with my now 8 month old by my side and to be encouraging others through my art and my story even more.


I really love how you paint clouds. How did you get so good at painting clouds?

Tutorials and looking at actual clouds very closely.

I happened to just have finished a series of 3 drawings of clouds for a show I'm in next month that deals with mental health awareness (it's at Drewboy Creative Gallery in Richland, WA). Clouds have a spiritual quality to them and I just seem to be incorporating them more and more to express things I'm going through.


Do you think social media has changed art in today's society?

It's made art more accessible and made inspiration for artists only grow more. At least that's been my experience. There are people on social media that help me feel motivated or are just plain cool. Who isn't inspired by cool people!


Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

Oreos! I've never even had Fudgee-O cookies. Sometimes less is more.

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