Featuring the Artwork of Jessica Torrant
Hi Jessica! Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in a rural area of Northern Connecticut as an only child and I filled my days exploring the woods and fields that surrounded our house on a dirt road, or immersing myself in sketch books and art supplies that my generous family always supplied me with come Christmas and birthdays.
Speaking of family, I was quite fortunate to have been born into a family of many musicians and artists on both sides who were more likely to embrace and accept my desire to pursue a creative career, albeit with a fair share of understandable warning. Although I enjoyed writing, singing, dancing and performing, making art was always home. I had a very art focused experience through my high school years and won the town Women’s Club scholarship for continued studies in Fine Art.
I chose the University of New Hampshire as the place I would study art – not because it was the best art school, or even on the map for art at the time, but because it spoke to me personally, both in the gorgeous location, and the incredible honesty of the head of the art department at the time. I had visited Syracuse and had a scholarship there – any other person would have chosen that school based on credentials alone. But there was something about the honesty of that UNH professor telling me “We don’t have a lot of money, we don’t even have a graphic design program – but we can give you a real art education studying like the masters did” and that sealed the deal for me. No pomp or circumstance, just the bare bones of a struggling artist in training. That felt more real to me at the time than state of the art facilities that might lull me into the security that I could be an artist just by having a name certificate.
I got a solid education at UNH and then went to the University of California Santa Cruz for a semester via the National Student Exchange Program. That was when I was really inspired to make abstract art and began exploring that voice. I returned to UNH to complete my degree with honors in 1999 and to this day I will always be thankful for my time at both schools because I not only got a great art education, I also met people I will consider friends for life.
After I graduated, I eventually moved back to my home state and now I am married with three amazing step kids, my one eyed wonder dog Leo, and a studio in my woodsy backyard that I always dreamed of. I am able to be there for my family when they need me and also live out a lifelong dream of making art full time – it’s a win win as far as I’m concerned.
When did you know that art was your thing?
I think that most artists know it is “their thing” at a very young age. I knew as soon as I realized I was getting a lot more enjoyment from drawing with crayons, playing with play dough, or pushing finger paint around, than most of my peers. I wanted to keep doing more of that when others got bored and wanted something different to play with/do. It is pretty self evident and hard to ignore starting as early as kindergarten.
The older I got, the more obvious it was that this was “my thing” and something I desperately wanted to pursue as a career. I would say that I have felt defined by being an artist for the good majority of my life. How I live up to that is another thing entirely. Right now I’d say I feel more confident and “in love” with painting than I perhaps ever have. Things just seem to be clicking, and I know that feeling won’t last forever, so I’m trying to stay in it and see where it takes me.
Do you have a favorite medium?
My favorite medium is acrylic paint. I love it. Oils were the paint that I graduated to in college, and though I learned to appreciate and respect them, they presented so many issues for me. The biggest being drying time. HURRY UP! I have an impulse, and I want to add a new layer immediately. Even acrylic on humid days doesn’t dry fast enough for me and that says a lot. I also love soft charcoal, oil pastels, acrylic mediums. and water soluble crayons in conjunction with acrylic paint.
What’s your favorite part of the art making process?
That moment when things click.
I don’t know about other creators but I am 36, I’ve been doing this for a while, and I still doubt it.. and yet proceed forward with the hope that it will happen, somehow. And it does or it doesn’t, but even if it doesn’t, it leads me down a new path that I needed to be on.
The KNOWING (tempered by a great deal of not knowing)… when I’m onto something… that is the greatest part.
What inspires you to create?
To be perfectly honest, at this point in my life what inspires me is the drive that I chose this so I better live up to it. It is a belief, not a knowing, that I should be making art and that is what makes this whole process so thrilling, terrifying, life affirming, and challenging to me. I go into the studio not knowing what is to come, just that I will make art, and it will be an adventure.
What’s the most rewarding thing about sharing your art with the world?
The most exciting thing is connecting with other artists that are on similar journeys living very different lives in different states or countries. The camaraderie that can be found among artists online is incredible and a needed source of companionship for an otherwise rather isolating “job”. The support and critique of fellow artists is an incredible benefit of sharing my work online with the world.
Of course, selling an original painting is a wonderful thing. Getting paid is great, but knowing that someone loved your work so much they want to live around it is the greatest reward and confirmation you could ever receive. My favorite thing is when a buyer keeps in touch and sends pictures of paintings hanging in their new homes. It’s so exciting to know that, in a way, a part of me lives in all of these far reaching places, places I may likely never see myself. That is an amazing feeling.
Where can we find your work?
You can find my work at www.jessicatorrant.com. I also keep folks updated via my facebook page, where I share new paintings, works in progress, the process of creating custom work, studio shots, and art by other artists that I enjoy. You can follow my page at: www.facebook.com/JessicaTorrant
For those local to the area, I have a solo exhibit through the month of August at A Salon in Enfield, CT, and an ongoing exhibit of several works at Copper and Birch in South Windsor, CT.
Thank you Jessica, long time admirer of your work. So glad you allowed me to feature you!