When Meg announced to us recently that she had found an artist she was crazy about, and told us her name was Jessica Pisano, a bell went off in my head. “Wait,” I said, “I think I’m related to her!” Linda laughed, “Of course you are” referring to my habit of thinking I know someone who happens to look familiar but actually is a celebrity trying to be incognito (like the time I swore I went to college with John Malkovich because he looked familiar, taking his son to a judo class in Gordes, and was confounded when he didn't recognize me). “No really,” I insisted, and if being my mother’s sister’s son’s wife’s sister’s step-daughter is a relative, then I’m happy to claim Jessica Pisano as a long lost cousin!
Regardless of our familial connections, I’m actually happier that Jessica is our newest addition to the Huff Harrington family and we are all thrilled to represent her work here at the gallery.
What caught Meg’s eye originally were Jessica’s simple compositions that are actually made of layers of paint that read as complex, intriguing and provocative. Pisano explains that she uses the traditional indirect painting techniques of the Old Masters by applying oil paint in many translucent layers giving the painting a detailed and highly rendered appearance. As a contrast, she also uses contemporary techniques in which paint is loosely applied in an intuitive manner. The combination of these techniques from both the past and the present creates a unique juxtaposition of styles.
Inspired by nature, Jessica Pisano’s interest in art began at a young age. We asked her about her influences, her upbringing and her training:
Jessica: My love for art started as far back as I can remember. In my opinion, the best painting I’ve ever created was when I was three!
I went to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR and majored in Fine Art. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy during my junior year. It was there that I discovered the gilding technique of using silver and gold. That medium still finds it way into my work today. In Italy I was trained at the Lorenzo deMedici school of fine art and studied a variety of art mediums including painting, drawing, sculpture and jewelry. After graduating from Lewis & Clark College, I decided that if I wanted to become a professional artist it would benefit me to have knowledge within the business side of the arts — so I went to the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2002 with a Masters in Art Administration. I’ve been working as a full time artist ever since.
- What medium do you paint in?
I paint in oil paint and on occasion I use gold and silver leaf in my work as well.
- Your work is a marvelous combination of hyper-representation (the birds) and softly abstracted backgrounds. Which are you at heart? A representation painter or an abstractist?
Great question! Both have my heart. I love the contrast of realism and abstract. It satisfies me both visually and technically. Visually, I love the emotion abstract art has and I love the complexity of representational art. Technically, painting in an abstract way fills my need as an artist to paint in an intuitive and expressive manner — in contrast, painting realistically fills my need as an artist to paint in an traditional academic way. The two make the perfect marriage for me!
- Nature plays a big part in your choice of subject matter. Can you fill us in on the how’s and why’s?
Nature is my muse. It’s where I find endless inspiration..
- Tell us about your darling little studio!
My studio has been something I’ve wanted to build for years - I was thrilled to finally be able to build it three years ago. I worked with a wonderful company called GeoBarns up in VT. The crew came down to our property and stayed at our house while they built the studio. GeoBarns has experience building structures for artists, so they were instrumental in building a space that has excellent layout, lighting, ventilation, etc. I’ve always either worked in a small bedroom in our home or rented spaces, so having my own studio has been a dream come true.
- Do you listen to music while you paint?
I do listen to music while painting. I use Spotify’s playlists a lot. I find that I need up beat and energetic music for when I’m painting abstract. Painting abstract can be a physical practice! There’s a lot of dancing going on while painting abstract. When it’s time to paint the birds and trees I tend to listen to music that puts me in the zone. Lo-fi beats is perfect for concentration. I’m also a huge podcast fan while painting. Favorites art podcasts are Art For Your Ear, Art Grind Podcast, Savvy Painter. Non art podcasts: Goop and How I Built This.
- How do you structure your painting days? Very rigid like a job or as the creativity and inspiration hit you?
Hands down, my days are structure in a very rigid manner. I’m in the studio six days a week. I find creativity and inspiration for new ideas while I’m working. I love this quote by Chuck Close - it sums up how I work in the studio:
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
- Three favorite painters of all time?
Not a painter, but my favorite artist is Andy Goldsworthy.
Favorite painters? There’s so many that I admire, but to name two classics I love Gustav Klimt and Turner.
- Favorite vacay/happy spot and why?
Locally, I love the coast of Maine. It’s so beautiful up there. The coast of Italy is another favorite spot. Any coast really! I suppose I gravitate towards coastal lands…says the woman who lives on an island :)
Thanks, Jessica. And hey Cous', welcome to the family! We know it's tough to get you away from your idyllic island, but we'd love to renew the family connections right here in Atlanta some time. In the meantime, thank you for the fabulous work that we are so proud to represent at Huff Harrington Fine Art.