Oh Mother, group exhibit at custom's house leith Oct 26th! by jessica kirkpatrick

I made these drawings primarily at home when my son was sleeping or distracted.  With oil painting at the core of my art activity, and its attending mess and long term involvement,  I sought the pristine simplicity of pen and paper.  Hiding at my desk, away from piles of laundry and dishes, I could give myself a moment to feel my feelings.  The term somatic means body, so by focusing on sensations in my body, many of these drawings attempt to show an intangible emotion.  But they also reflect an abstract ideal, or striving for balance, serenity, and geometric harmony.  That being said, these drawings are made with no planning or forethought, so there are mistakes and imperfections.  In this way, they became meditations as I work with a total sense of allowing and non-aggression.  These drawings reveal my longstanding interest in geometric form that has previously been a smaller thread in my practice, only being hinted at in my oil paintings. I never had intended to exhibit these drawings, makints them for myself, but as opposed to my past work which is more coded, these drawings explicitly present my interest in art as meditation or spiritual practice. Spilt Milk is a collective of artist mothers from around the world. Started by Lauren McLaughlen, it considers the unique challenges that women artists face when embarking on a parenting journey. In contrast to the conventional idea that artists must sacrifice family life for success, we honor and support parenting as part of our creative and professional lives, and fight to create opportunities and infrastructure for creative mothers.

Works Going to Birmingham for "Home" exhibit at the Old Print Works by jessica kirkpatrick

I am pleased to announce that I have some work going down to a show called Home down in Birmingham, open July 21st -August 3rd These are works out of my new series.  I am the M


No More Nostalgia: No More Nostalgia: This is another building from Marin County, however in this case its context rests in connection to a grandiose mythological narrative about patriarchal religion handing over the baton to feminine spirituality.  The characters to the left are appropriated out of a Giotto painting, and the feet are those of actress Blake Lively--Hollywood stars as our modern goddesses. This painting took on a life of its own as its meaning during the process of making, but I see the connection between the personal and the universal, and the individual life as an embodiment of universal themes. 



The Bank:  This piece depicts a bank in Marin county California--on the north of San Francisco Bay. Having spent my childhood here, I returned in 2014 to the area to live for a while.  I was struck by how certain buildings triggered memory and nostalgia, and something about this 1960's era building made me recall running around as a wild teenager, waiting outside convenient stores to ask someone to buy fags, or meeting friends just to hang about. I took a snap off my iPhone but also used google street view screenshots to make an amalgam image reference.  This means  the painting is largely informed by the textures and qualities of the images I worked from.  I glazed the painting and sanded and scraped it multiple times to give it a worn down, distressed look, somehow to show the tiredness of old memories that do not serve a purpose to your life in the present.


Looking Up: This piece is about longing for home. But she is on the outside looking in. Home and family represent both belonging and a fetishistic middle class consumerism and idealization of the family unit. The house looms, asserting itself as a symbol success behind a property line fence. The woman disappears into her role as mother--and they are but cartoons of real life. Of course much of this is based on my contradictory feelings of being home raising children and understanding my own desires for home,  and a sense of normalcy. I express this sentiment in art, but in real life am living it.   I think the main point of this painting is contradiction.


press release


The Old Print Works is proud to announce It’s first open-submission exhibition, HOME.

Featuring the work of fifteen, emerging contemporary artists.

While each practitioner retains the integrity of their vision, the work is linked through a

common thread, exploring the meaning of ‘home’.

Exhibiting a selection of painting’s from her series ‘The Connectivist’s Dilemma’, Jessica

Kirkpatrick explores the notion of home from both the real and the conceptual. Her ‘mashups’

of stereotypical suburban America and the Scottish landscape study the experience of

fragmentation during migration and the act of reconciling and assimilating oneself.

Through her work, Jessica explores the utopian desire for connection, community and

middle-class consumerism.

Whilst Matthew Humphreys, a filmmaker, photographer and the hearing child to two

profoundly deaf parents, draws on languages and communication embedded in social

relationships within his work, creating an installation based on his parent's living room, he

reconnects with his childhood experience.

Along with Sylvia Chan, who returned to her hometown in Hong Kong and captured the

juxtaposition of the cultures bustling, over-crowded streets and ingrained loneliness.

HOME investigates meaning through differing mediums, interpretations and ideologies.

Opening on the 21st July at 12 am in The Old Print Works, Upper Gallery, benefitting from

the factories classic, industrial architecture and vast, undisturbed natural light.

Surrounded by creative organisations, projects and in conjunction with ORT

Galleries ‘Schwarmerei Members Show’. Free entry and drinks.

For more information on selected artists featured, please visit the Old Print Works blog.

NO MORE NOSTALGIA by jessica kirkpatrick

 Oil on Panel, 45" x 50" 2018

  Watch how I made this painting from beginning to end.  This piece is intense and dramatic, speaking to my own childhood in Northern California and but also carries themes of religion and the feminine body.  This piece went through several incarnations, which is frustrating and confusing, but I know that when that happens in a piece that I am probably growing as an artist. 


I start out collecting images I am attracted to as painting sources.  These are mostly my own photos, but I will also source found imagery. Such as the one of actress Blake Lively's feet from the foot fetish mecca--wikifeet.com.  Consciously or not, I tend to combine a landscape background, architectural mid-ground with a figurative element.  These collage mash up create surprising narratives, and I enjoy how meaning and making inform and assert each other.  

Below was the original concept.  I inverted the building to negative, and overlayed some floral patterning.  I liked the confusion in perspective between the high horizon line and building looming ahead.  I like the widescreen format of this composition but I ran into a lot of trouble when I attempted to adapt to a much more square shaped substrate--a panel I had on hand I though would suit this painting well.  

P1060913-Recovered copy.jpg

working in a series--I will make lots of watercolor studies.  This helps me to find some common themes and develop a palette.  Because I work from digital collage, a small study helps make the transition from photo to painting, to see how my ideas will translate into paint. 


Stage one: getting a color scheme and placing the composition.  Starting a new painting is always the most exciting because it feels so fresh and vivid.  Each brush stroke is alive with potential.  I had to decide how much sky I wanted on with the squarer composition.


stage two:  I love some things that are going on, but at the end of the day just dont feel that back ground works.  Looking back it was maybe not as bad as I thought, but the painting still felt claustrophobic.   


responding to some of the problems I recognized I went back to the computer to resolve.  In the way I added a few more elements which created an entirely new narrative.  I was very interested in Giotto for how he treats architecture and space--often skewing perspective and scale to make an image work, but also to show the importance of the characters.  I followed his inspiration directly by "quoting" him into my painting.  I was also responding to the state of decay in these old fresco, in which little chunks of plaster and paint fall off.  I enjoy that sense of history and how the image is embedded in the ancient plaster.  I emulated that effect by using distressing techniques like scraping and sanding on my painting.


while the sky was really beautiful and romantic somehow it still wasnt capturing what i wanted.  I imagined just abstracting it and darkening it.  So I use the computer just to imagine some options.

nostalgiastudy copy.jpg

i felt so crazy painting over my lovely sky.  but it also felt refreshing just simplify the composition and palette.


i went even crazier and scratch out the top layer of paint and then pored creamy paint all over! i decided the painting need a vertical element.  however the pore came out a bit scary and alien like, which wasnt my intention.  However there were some wonder marbled effects i want to keep.


finally!  i tied it all together with a thick glaze of dark blue which added to the drama, and made the building stand out.  i carved out a moon from my paint pore, which ties in with the concept of this piece being about patriarchy handing over the baton to feminine spirituality.  i worked on the disciples section and cleaned up my goddess feet.  i appreciate the journey this painting took me on, realized i want to paint on panel more often. i think i am getting better as an artist stepping into the unknown--however i hope that my next projects are a bit more straightforward.  well that being said, i think each painting has its own fight--and if there is no fight you always wonder if you pushed it to its highest potential.  i just mean to say, i really love simplicity and i guess that sometimes i have to go through a complicated process to enjoy simplicity.


the wretched WHY by jessica kirkpatrick

art practice as inquiry

The human mind demands certainty; panic strikes when we don't know where we are--the first thing we ask a new acquaintance is what they 'do'.    We classify and name  everything, and when there are no words our brains go numb.   Artist statements, bio's and gallery talks--art college and the art market demand that an artist communicate with focus and clarity; and granted, conviction puts you on a creative straight and narrow.   But just for the sake of this blog...I want to honor that state of not knowing what the fuck you are doing, why or for what purpose, with no prospect of discovering such any time soon.    Because I believe uncertainty is the life blood of the creative act. Questions compel your research and nourish your innate curiosity,  so maybe the asking is more important than the answer.  This combination of simple questioning and allowing the answer to evolve as you do assists you in verbalizing your work, keeps you on track artistically,  all while nourishing a vibrant creative circulatory system. 

  • your why develops over the course of your career 
  • creativity is contingent upon uncertainty
  • your line of inquiry is your mission

At the retrospective of one of my favorite British Painters, Paul Nash, at Laing Gallery in New Castle, it was fascinating to see his work change during his lifetime.   As an official WWII artist, the young Nash depicted vast battle scenes in blasted landscapes, forecasting his sensibility for the surreal,  and use of  blocky shape and chalky color.  After the war, recovering from PTSD he settled into the Dorset countryside,  creating psychologically intense images, inserting what he called "imaginative events" into sparse scenes of fields or seashores. By the end of his life he made romantic and beckoning dreamscapes.  As I strolled the exhibit, I loved witnessing his expression move from political outrage, to psychic angst, to longing. Though his work always remained recognizable as his own, Nash's ideas and imagery changed as he did.  Artist's who's work show evolution and growth are the artist's our culture cherishes.  Living inside of inquiry is the key to that growth.  

Making great work lies within the limitations of transforming thought into materiality.  You  learn to direct  the chaotic forces of imperfect tools, imperfect studios and imperfect moods--frayed brushes, cheap paints, dull blades and hangovers  then work towards your artistic intentions.  The art making process is somatic; our emotion and thought packed bodies act upon elements and objects.    But this is the magic of art making; within the surrender of our minds to the circumstances and perimeters of stuff and life, our work reveals us to ourselves.  Once we are clear on a certain process, creativity craves new unknowns.  Being an artist is equally about receptivity and trust, as it is control and power. 

I've realized that if I fully apprehended my motives and purpose, I would probably walk out of the studio and shut the door forever.  Its the pondering, and ever deepening mystery of creating art objects that keeps me engaged. When I  take my idea into form, maybe only 100% of the time is my project different from its original conception.  Detaching from a specific outcome delimits possibility, which when used towards a larger question, funnels creativity into a coherent project without it becoming predictable or conceptually one dimensional.   By continuing to ask why you make the work you do and asking what is the next step? what now? Your work will tell you.  You just need to know what follows what, and the ultimate answer is your North Star. 





Becoming Incomplete by jessica kirkpatrick

I feel the urge to run.  I am in a stand off with these tired pictures--colors need tweaking, elements added or taken away, areas masked off or sanded.   Avoidance. Eating, emailing, caffeinating--knowing i need to stand, put on my painting jeans, pick up a brush and work. But that threshold of discomfort must be traversed. I get it-- this unease, the not knowing whats next makes the creative process interesting, the pulse of fear and excitement to compel a life's work.  I start tentatively with a few misfires, color too dark, too saturated--I sift through a tray of pulverized discolored tubes  for a selection of paints to mix and mix and mix.  A little Mars black to desaturate, some indigo to cool, and some Napthol to punch it up.  The pigments dance at their molecular levels to speak my color poetry.  In the past, I strove for a dark neutral palette, and then there was the phase of beiges and creams, right now I am into my pastels and pinks.  My current interest in pink  is probably some childhood regression, (recovering my inner princess--its pure cliched beauty a balm to middle age disillusionment).  I love oil paint's  heavy inkiness, like clay from the earth; like minerals and insect blood and flower tincture smeared across fabric.    As I begin to make panicky strokes, regret them, rub them out, try again, thats better, I feel my hips loosen, my breathing take pace.  I am getting into it--finally-- and I have a few hours before its time to pick up baby (whoops don't mention babies--this is the professional realm here!)  I would love to say this is where the fun starts, but its more of a frantic, semi-possessed frenzy, of dripping, splattering, scrubbing and blurring.  Then the pause: Like?   Not like?  Am I ok in my not liking it?  Is there something interesting happening, or is it just...crap? The deeply humble place of non-judgement where you don't know if your a fucking badass, or just another person who went to art college ages ago.   


Have you ever had a creative block and what did you do to get over it?  How did you get your work back on track when you saw it going awry?  How do you cope when you were at the studio and werent sure what to do?