There is something about immersion in colour that, like music, has the power to deeply move us, and that we can’t really explain. I love exploring that mysterious terrain.
Jessica Poundstone’s work is informed minimalism and experiential ‘light and space’ art movements. Her research into colour sensation led her to, in part, let go of the limitations of working with physical materials and explore the endless possibilities of the digital realm. Fascinated by the meditative qualities of colour fields and their ability to evoke intense emotion, she continues to experiment with their immerse powers and the effect they have when they become part of our everyday environment.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. It took me a while to really claim the title of artist, but when I look back on my life, I can see that I always have been - and always will be - an artist! I grew up loving to draw and paint, and could not get enough of looking at, reading about, and talking about art.
Q. Where does your fascination with colour sensation come from?
A. My experiences with colour sensation work have been mystical. There is something about immersion in colour that, like music, has the power to deeply move us - and that we can’t really explain. I love exploring that mysterious terrain.
Q. Your work navigates a delicate balance between digital and physical art - you use digital media to create, with your hands, unique one-of-a-kind pieces - could you take us through your artistic process?
A. My digital work typically starts with a colour or set of colours that I get a craving to work with. The colour or colours might have been inspired by anything - a film, a flower arrangement, a feeling: I am - and have always been - very sensitive to colour, and the visceral experience of it.
From there, as I work on my iPad, I typically get very deep into the process of making a piece, getting into that amazing state of flow. I’ll either start by working on a series I’ve already created, like the Colour Cloud series, or I’ll be in an experimental mood, trying out different structures and shapes and textures.
Sometimes, a piece comes together very quickly. Other times, there are lots of stops and starts and dead ends. But when a piece comes together, I always get a little internal jolt of joy that tells me it has arrived. It’s, again, very mysterious! But I’ve come to trust the process and the feeling of “rightness” when a piece is done.
Q. Why do you choose to work within this field of tension between the digital and the physical?
A. It feels more like it chose me! The factors that led me to start experimenting with making work digitally were very practical: I didn’t have dedicated space for a studio, but I always had my phone with me. The touchscreen on my phone just felt like a natural language I could learn to speak. I learned that David Hockney was working this way, so I thought that I could try it too!
Working digitally also offered me completely new processes and options for making images, which led me to think different thoughts, feel different feelings, and ultimately make very different work — work that felt more true to what I had wanted to be able to express in my work all along, but hadn’t been able to create with the limitations of physical materials.
Q. You also work in a variety of other media - you create rugs, paintings, etc. How do these different forms of expression relate to each other? Do you see them as different tools to convey a similar concept or are they something else entirely?
A. They do all relate to each other, for sure. I think of the digital work as a portal that I was able to walk through that changed the way I was able to express myself. Once I was in that new space, the way I could use other mediums changed as well - for the better I think.
Q. How do you think the experience of a painted piece or a high-quality printed piece differs (if at all)?
A. To me it is similar to the difference between watching a movie and watching a play. I can be equally moved by both, but they are different experiences. A painted piece, like a play, is a one-time-never-before-never-again object, and carries that energy and power with it. A high-quality printed piece of an open or limited edition can have just as much resonance, but has a more communal, expansive energy to it. I really love both.
Q. You have stated that, to you, art is part of a self-care practice that changes the way we see, think & feel. Could you elaborate on that? How does art impact your personal life and what would you like it to evoke in the viewer?
A. The objects we choose to live with - whether we choose them carefully or not - affect us. Being deliberate about these choices - and having the privilege of bringing beautiful things into our lives - changes our everyday experience of living. Living with blank walls is completely different from having walls filled with images that are meaningful to us, made by artists who are committed to tapping into a current of beauty, joy, wonder and mystery. It literally changes the energy in a space. I feel so comforted, touched, and cared-for by the artwork I’ve chosen to bring into my home!
Q. You have also published a book with your work, could you tell us a bit about that?
A. Years ago, I read something about a person who used Van Gogh paintings as a part of their meditation practice. I wasn’t meditating at the time, but that idea intrigued me. As meditation entered into public conversation in a new and big way and I decided to try it, I remembered that concept of using art to meditate. It occurred to me that my Color Cloud series could be used for that purpose. I really enjoyed it as a way to give me something visual to help me focus, so I decided to make a book so others could try it too!
Q. Your work has been part of several successful collaborations with big brands such as Anthropologie; what does it mean to you as an artist when your pieces are featured on objects for everyday use?
A. It’s an honor to have any piece of my work in people’s homes! I do especially love it when my work is part of someone’s everyday routine, whether it’s a glance at a piece of my art next to the door before they leave the house, or looking at their phone case. I’d love to have art be part of every moment of everyone’s day!
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Color - Structure - Emotion