Art Feature: Study of Hair

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


Study of Hair by Jessie Reyna

Jessie Reyna received her Bachelor’s in Art History from the University of New Hampshire and currently attends Fairfield University in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program studying nonfiction. She has worked as both Nonfiction Editor and Editor-In-Chief for Mason’s Road: A Literary Arts Journal. Her current hobbies include cooking, blogging, training for marathons, and traveling. She lives in Long Beach, California.

I’d love to know more about the story behind this piece. What inspired this drawing?
The day I drew this piece, my cat had escaped. My boyfriend and I spent a night down in San Diego, and when we arrived home, we noticed the window was busted open by our cat. We had just moved to Long Beach, so I was very nervous and upset about my cat being missing for the first time. We had spent most of the afternoon searching for him, putting up posters and walking around the neighborhood with no luck. Drawing has always been something that calms me down. It helps me concentrate. That evening, my boyfriend and I took a break from searching. I pulled out my phone and began doodling. It took me about an hour to draw this piece, and soon after, we ended up finding our cat. Sometimes, if you just center yourself, things will work out in the end.
I was amazed to learn that this piece of art was created on a telephone. Do you usually sketch on your phone? What other mediums do you use?
I’ve always been an iPhone person. My sister Dani actually told me about her Samsung Galaxy Note 3. She’s an artist as well, and she told me all about the phone. It includes a pen with a sketchpad app, and it allows you to design and doodle which is something I really wanted. We have the tendency to buy phones based on popularity and not by actual use. I really liked that the Samsung allowed me to be creative everyday, so I bought the phone and I haven’t regretted it since.

I’ve worked in many different mediums. It’s the only way to know what medium works best for you. I’ve practiced in watercolor, oil paint, charcoal, colored pencil, pastels, and engraving. I really enjoy working with pastels and charcoal because it’s smoother in my opinion. I can keep drawing over, or fix certain areas without feeling like I’ve completely ruined the piece.
What typically inspires an art idea? How do you take it from inception to creation?
Observing other artwork! If I see a painting or a sketch that I really love, I think, “I want to try that too!” It’s just like when you are reading a book, and something about the craft of the author inspires you to want to try it in your own writing. Sometimes just sitting down with pencil in hand and starting to draw, even if you don’t know where it’s going to lead, is what makes creating so exciting and relaxing. There is no stress.
When you’re creating art, how do you know it’s complete?
I hardly ever feel like it’s complete. Art is always changing. Our perspectives are constantly moving. What you see one day may look entirely different the next day. I keep re-working pieces until I can’t re-work it any longer. That’s when I say, “Okay. I’m done for now.” You never want to beat your piece to death. Sometimes working too much on one piece will make you lose your inspiration and focus. There’s this perception that artists are perfectionist, but I don’t think I’ve ever met one to be honest with you.
Tell us about your art practice. Do you create regularly, seasonally, or are you more or a binge-artist?
I’m definitely a binge-artist. It’s funny how easily life can get in the way. In high school, I practiced regularly. I took an AP course, practiced with different mediums almost daily because the resources were at my fingertips. In college, I had to actually pay for my tools, and when you barely have a penny to your name, you have to sacrifice certain learning experiences. I really wanted to take up oil painting again while in college, but spending four hundred dollars on oil paints alone wasn’t worth it for me. I found myself loosing my creativity in college during my art courses, and I simply wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I decided to switch over to Art History, and now every once in a while, I get a boost of creative energy that I need to take care of. It happens every few months. I decide to take on arts and crafts, or even make my own Christmas presents for family. This kind of alternative solution to meet my creative needs in everyday life is what keeps me going.
Though we weren’t in the program at the same time, I know of you as a student in my MFA program. Can you tell me a little more about your writing? What are you working on currently and what do you plan to do in the future?
I can’t say that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Since art went a little downhill for me in college, I had to find other ways to create art. For me, it’s writing. I’m currently working on my first memoir. It has been an incredible journey in this program, and I look over my writing from two years ago to see how far my craft has come and it is so fulfilling. Since I’m only 24, I get asked a lot as to why I’m writing a memoir. I’ve come across many adults who seem to think that I’m just starting my life when really, I’ve been living it all along. I believe that no matter what age you are, you have a story to tell, and it’s important. What I find fascinating about humanity is that everyone has lived a different life. It’s all about perspective. I’m a little more than halfway done with my memoir, and each day that I work on it, I learn something new about myself. This memoir is going to reveal all of my inner thoughts, and it will be interesting to see the results. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year.
Does your writing and artwork ever cross paths or do they exist separately for you?
They definitely cross paths. I’ve found that in my writing, I focus a lot of my energy into descriptions. It’s in my nature. My undergraduate courses taught me how to observe closely, and I’ve brought these lessons into my own writing. I like challenging myself to cover the five senses. For me, it helps bring the stories and characters to life.
I know with my writing, I tend to do a lot of drafting. Essays take different shapes throughout the drafting process. Does this take place in your artwork or in your writing? Is the drafting process the same or different between art and writing?
I draft so much, it’s insane. In a way, both art and writing is very similar when it comes to revising. I tend to continuously draw over my drawings. You know that creepy kid from The Ring? He just kept sketching a giant circle in charcoal over and over and over again. That’s me with my artwork. It takes shape and forms. I do the same thing with writing. I constantly re-write sentences to either simplify them, or make them juicier.
What are you currently working on? 
I’m not currently working on an art project, but I have been thinking about re-decorating my desk area. But that requires cleaning, which I’m not good at!
Have you read any good books or viewed any new artwork lately that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’ve become a huge fan of Jo Ann Beard. I recently read her memoir The Boys of My Youth, and her sentence structure inspires me every day. She’s my spirit animal.
As for art, my favorite artists for a long time have been both Jacques-Louis David and Mary Ellen Mark. David was a Neoclassical painter during the time of the French Revolution. He was a bit of a rebel for his time, and he captures human emotion so beautifully that I use him as a guide from time to time when I write. Mary Ellen Mark is a photographer, and she has many books filled with individuals who are compelling and interesting. Her collection of photographs called Falkland Road shares her time living in Bombay, India forming close connections with those in the sex trade. It’s truly fascinating.
Erin Ollila (née Corriveau) is an emotional archaeologist who graduated from Fairfield University’s MFA program with a concentration in creative nonfiction. Her writing has been published in Lunch Ticket, Revolution House, Paper Tape, (em): A Review of Text and Image, RedFez, and other awesome literary journals. Her blog, Reinventing Erin, is her outlet for ruminating on the minutiae of everyday life.



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