Jill spent much of her childhood in Orlando, Florida, but most of her life has been spent in Tennessee. She and her family have called Fairview home for more than a decade.
How long have you been painting?
I have been an artist, musician and performer my whole life, but it wasn’t until my late thirties, about ten years ago, that I came back to the serious pursuit of art. I have focused mainly on digital art, primarily comics, launching a slice of life webcomic ten years ago that followed my journey as a mom and an artist.
What was the pivotal moment that made you decide to follow your path as an artist?
When my second child was born, I looked at this tiny life and realized I had no idea how to help them live their dreams when I had never pursued mine.
What can you tell us about your process?
From a digital art perspective I often start with sketches drawn traditionally. From there I continue and finish more of my work in Photoshop, using methods that mimic traditional drawing and painting, but allow me a greater freedom of execution.
What are some of your favorite places where your work has been displayed?
When I was in second grade I entered a drawing contest and won with my representation of a clown. That picture was displayed in the first place spot on the wall behind the Woolworth’s counter. There honestly haven’t been many experiences that have exceeded my feeling of pride in that moment.
Who are some of your inspirations?
As a child, Lynn Johnson’s “For Better Or Worse” was always one of my favorite comic strips, probably because even though I couldn’t always relate, it felt really honest. The vulnerability and humility appealed to me. Another important influence was my friend Bill Counts. He encouraged me, and challenged himself, and when he passed away I felt like I needed to carry forward the momentum he helped me discover within myself.
What work that you’ve done are you most proud of?
It’s so hard to say what I’m proud of with my work or within myself. I am very self-critical, and look for ways I could grow and do better. I tend to feel the best when something I have created has an impact on someone’s heart. I have been told that a piece of art or a comic panel makes someone feel happy, or understood or empowered, and that feels like everything that matters in the world to me.
Is there a single painting that you would like to be remembered for?
I kind of hope my art sinks into obscurity. I’m pretty sure most of it is in the solidly mediocre category. I want my legacy to be the good I created in the world, the people I gave hope to, the creativity I helped break free in others and helped make real in the world. The art I made was just part of me, not the end result of me.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Myself, my family, my imagination and the stories that inspire me.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge in making your art? Self-doubt and poor follow-through are the plague of most artists, and I am no exception. It is difficult to keep working when you can’t see progress, but if you are willing to persevere, you will be able to look back and realize how far you’ve come.
What would you say your future goals include?
Most of what is important to me right now involves helping others get unstuck, find a community that can support and encourage them, and make the world better. I see the world around me as a giant canvas and the possibility for something beautiful is there if I can just get other people to grab a paintbrush and join me.
What would you like to see happen in Fairview to build a better art community?
What we need is for local creatives to extend a sense of trust that I know we haven’t earned yet. It takes time. But as individual artists, actors, photographers and musicians we’ve been hurt by toxic environments, negative messages, damaging egos and competing goals. This is not what we’re working for here at the Fairview Arts Council, but many people hold back because the fear of engagement is often that you are making yourself vulnerable. We see something very different in what we are trying to build. Whether we have classes or events or projects, all of that is secondary to creating a place where everyone can have a place where they are valued and encouraged. A place where they can learn and grow and give back to others. We can choose to generously share our creative gifts and our unique perspectives with the world around us. I know it’s scary, but it is worth trying. That’s how the arts make the world a beautiful and meaningful place.