Where I’m From

It’s been a whirlwind seven weeks of art and introspection in this beautiful place removed from my routine, and suddenly, as if it was all just a dream, I’m on the cusp of headed back home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about home & what exactly home is to me. When people here in Mexico ask me where I’m from, I tell them I’m from the bay in California. And when people in the bay ask me where I’m from…I tell them I’m from Florida.

A lot of my journey with art has been like stepping into a time machine into the past, to a younger self, care-free who plays in her imagination with abandon. It’s made me think a lot about where I’m from, the people, the places, the moments that have shaped me into who I am now. The book talks a lot about the artist-child and I’ve taken it to heart, nostalgic for that little girl’s freedom to imagine, create, and love.

Pondering the question of where I’m from, reminded me of an exercise I was introduced to a couple of years ago at a spiritual art retreat I was invited to by my Aunt & Uncle who were flying out to California, leading it. I saw them as the slightly off, black sheep artist types who I always felt “got me” and was glad for the chance to see them. As life would have it, it was the last time I saw my Uncle before he passed away a few weeks later. It was a divine gift to have that special time with them. While I’d never shared this, it was a big part of what pushed me to continue to pursue art in a big way in my life. That we only have this one life to do the things we love. At one point during the retreat participants were all invited to write our own version of George Ella Lyon’s poem, Where I’m From. I sat with the prompt unable to write much, judging every word I put on the page. But revisiting it this summer, I’ve let a lot of the criticism go and finally got around to answering the question. And what about you, where are you from?

Where I’m From –

I am from where the Spanish moss grows

And the alligators sunbathe

on the lake behind my house.

~

I am from lightening and thunderstorms

and crickets and frogs

whose symphony soothes me to sleep.

~

I am from lemon icebox pie on hot humid days.

From a chorus of hip hip hoorays

for meals my mom makes.

~

I am from a tribe of wild children

with unkempt hair and hand-me-downs,

running through the sprinklers.

~

I am from song and storytellers,

From integrity and brokenness and faith.

I am from love, born into my father’s arms.

~

I am from something more ancient.

From a tough love and a thin skin.

From grace.

Jessica + The Inscrutable Soul

Well it’s official, I’ve taken the plunge and launched my band page! Check it out! I’m both excited & nervous as I take steps to record my first album this winter. I continue to have so much gratitude about the opportunity to spend the summer in such a beautiful location and work on my art. This has been the final push of inspiration I needed to finish writing the album and prepare to have it professionally produced.

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Sitting with the Pain

I talk a lot about gratitude and affirmations. But I want to share that I’m not a ball of glitter whose joy is hollow, but instead comes from sitting with the pain.

Excavating the deeper fears that have been laying dormant, waking now as I try to defy the voice that whispers in my ear that my art is shit, is not a process I’m always excited about. The feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness run deeper than I’d hoped.

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A Bit of Magic & an Exercise in Self-Love

Above is a picture of Puerto Vallarta at sunset. I continue to be so grateful for my time in such a magical and mystical place. This week has been full of making art, affirmations & self-love, and giving my body & soul what it needs. Giant cicadas and frogs making noise along with roosters at all hours of the day, at times they sooth and at times annoy me. Beautiful guacamaya birds flying past in the late afternoon with ravishing colors. Beads of sweat from the sweltering heat. Green mountains during the day, and fireflies dancing around like bits of magic at night. It’s hard to be anything but alive in a place where are all of your senses are constantly met with surroundings to soak up. And the reality is, no matter where in the world you are, there is life happening all around you…For me, I’m confronted with the act of paying attention, to both the world around me, and the world inside me.

morning yoga on the balcony

morning yoga on the balcony

As part of looking at the world inside me, one of the exercises I had to do for Week 1 was write out a thank you letter to myself. The act of practicing affirmations about my artist-self and about myself in general and then actually mail it. It was a very powerful exercise. And it was surprising for me to discover, that I instinctually already knew somewhere deep inside, what I needed to hear, in the past, present, and future.

I’ll let the letter speak for itself.

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Portrait Painting Series

As a novice painter, I am facing my fear of painting faces, by doing an entire series of portraits. Some of them will be of me at different ages and stages in life, and some will just be random faces that intrigue me. The goal is that by the end of my time in Puerto Vallarta I’ll have mastered a few techniques to help me continue to get better at painting faces. Below is my first painting of the summer in progress. It’s still not finished, but here’s what I’ve got so far. Continue reading