Sass, wit, red hair and a little Wonder Woman. That's what Jessica Elam is made of. Oh and she does some pretty swell paintings, too. Her artwork has been featured in several galleries. We think that her paintings are the bees knees. And we know you'll agree!
Jessica Elam grew up in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon where spent many a day staring at her great grandmother's impressionist paintings, watching her grandfather grow as an artist and doodling up little scrapbooks and drawings of family trips inspired by Disneyland. She was born with the name Jessica Moon. She'll always be a Moon Girl, but now she bears the name of Elam and is based out of the Coos Bay area. You can see her art sometimes featured in galleries at the Coos Art Museum and on display in Sharkbites Cafe. If you're ever on the Coast, and in the Coos Bay area be sure to visit Sharkbites to check out her work and the work of various talented artists in the area. Not only do they have great food, they have great artwork.
While Jessica has no one style that she enjoys the most, she does enjoy using acrylic paint and most of her paintings feature that medium.
The Story of the Hummingbirds
Before Jessica became a fairly well-known artist in the community, she hadn't done any shows or entered her work into galleries. She illustrated children's books and did a few little pieces here and there, but her first gallery-quality (her words) painting that she did was Hummingbirds. This piece is a personal favorite and a print actually hangs in my living room. The curator for the gallery asked Jessica to enter a piece. Being her first gallery-intended painting, this bright yellow image with fluttery hummingbirds made her nervous. She painted this over the course of a couple months. While listening to Billy Holiday and the album The Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Painting Her Favorite Work
This question was a pretty tough one for Mrs. Elam to answer. She has a strong emotional attachment to her painting "Hummingbirds" because it was her first gallery quality piece and the first one to be sold. After contemplating just which one was her favorite she decided that "Evergreens Against Shimmering Moon" was it. She says that it was one painting that didn't have much direction in the beginning. There was no planning stage, there wasn't any light at the end that said she'd be finished when she was. Just canvas, music and a little brush. Once she was done with the painting she took some time away from it to come back later and decide for sure. When she came back, she was glad she hadn't fiddled with it any more. And it was done.
Inspiring Wonder Woman
Growing up in Portland, you're naturally submersed in a world of art, poetry and literature. It's a wonderful city to be. Jessica had the fortune of having some of the most beautiful artistry around her to inspire her current style and form when it comes to painting. Her journey as an artist started in her family culture, of course, and the city was her incubator. Places like McMennamin's inspired the bright color usage and intricate detail. When she moved to Coos Bay, talented artists here like David Castleberry further inspired her. Castleberry's work moved her to start showing her own in art shows locally because their art was similar in style. Overall she has appreciation for the big artists like Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Gustav Klimt and also the little guys that aren't as well-known to society.
The biggest inspirations for Elam come in the form of nature. Branches, water ripples and sparkles, the bark on trees, and the way that wind looks across prairie grass. Her paintings often feature birds, and she says that she loves the feather patterns on them. You'll often see patterns and meticulous dots, lines and dashes in her work. "Meticulous is calming to me. I can spend 8-9 hours doing it and it clears my mind. It's like meditation to me".
Tools of the Moon
These paintings don't really come from anywhere. With the inspirational backing that Elam has, there are also tools that she uses for the trade. Canvas, acrylic paints in bright colors, and--well, paintbrushes. When asked what tool she couldn't live without, she laughed and said, "I guess my paint brush--which sounds basic, but I have this paintbrush that I do all my dot paintings with and it’s been with me for years. I clean it off after each three dots to keep them uniform. Other than that, music." The music she listens to for paintings varies and is surprisingly very different for each one. As you read above, she listened to Billy Holiday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. For her Evergreens painting, she listened to Nick Drake and Pink Floyd.
As an artist myself, Jessica certainly inspires me to be the best that I can, and I adore all the work that she's done. Her work resides in my own home, and I'm proud to know and love such an amazing person and artist. It takes a Wonder Woman, and the world has certainly found her.
-Edit- We have had a couple folks asking about getting prints from Jessica featuring her amazing pieces. While we cannot sell those for her, we'll be contacting her soon to see if she is interested in selling prints. If you are interested in a print please e-mail us and we will direct your information to the artist.
Rachel is the owner of HGSS and Geckos on the Beach. She has a big love for all things reptile and amphibian.