WKP Artist Spotlight: Jessica Landoni
Jessica Landoni is a self-taught painter and illustrator with an undergraduate degree in Media, Information and Techno culture. She comes from a long line of artists, but only recently herself delved into art as a career. As someone who is inspired by abstract design, her pieces refelct an affinity for clean lines and striking colour combinations. Jessica enjoys producing art for children and draws inspiration for her work by creating art with her son. 'Colours, Shapes and Moods' is a collection of paintings and illustrations by the North Bay based artist that stands as her debut solo-exhibiton that is on view at the WKP Kennedy Gallery until April 6th.
As we have been enjoying the comfort and light-heartedness of her show, we sat down with Jessica to learn more about herself and her artistic practice.
What inspires your art?
For me it usually starts with colour. I may see an interesting colour combination in nature, fashion or interior design that will inspire me to create shapes or designs that incorporate these colours. If this type of inspiration strikes me, I will usually turn to acrylic paint as my medium. When I first started painting it was like a whole new world opened up to me and the ability to customize my own colour palette felt like the ultimate form of creative freedom.
When I’m illustrating, I draw inspiration from my young son by trying to create images he would find interesting. A child’s imagination is wide open and I like to imagine that in their world, there are no rules; so why not draw a pink polka dot elephant with a top hat?!
How do you start a piece, and what steps do you take in your process?
I usually come up with the colours first, then I sketch out the design. After I’m satisfied with the design, I will sketch it on canvas and begin painting. The final and very important step for me is to select a frame that I think will compliment the artwork.
Is there a specific medium you enjoy working with the most?
I would say acrylic paint because of the endless colour possibilities. No two pieces will come out the same, and I find that interesting.
Tell us about your studio set-up. Where do you work? How do you work?
I have a small room in my house which I have turned into an art studio but usually I find the room with the most light which lately is the kitchen. When I was first starting out one of my friends told me she had a large easel she wasn’t using so I painted her a picture in exchange for it. That was definitely one of the best trades I’ve ever made! My dream is to one day have my own art/pottery studio downtown.
How do you define success as an artist?
For me, success is defined as being able to produce my art and feel supported enough to put that art out into the world. We all recognize that art is subjective, so when I meet someone who takes interest in my work, it gives me inspiration to keep on creating. To feel “seen” and know that someone feels joy from something I’ve created is the ultimate reward in creating art. I also measure success in the way art supports my mental health. Art is very therapeutic for me, so the fact that it helps me be an overall happier and healthier person is proof of it's value in my life.
Are there any artists that you look up to or who influence your practice?
My mother and grandfather were both talented painters, so growing up I was always intrigued by their work. They used different mediums such as watercolour and oil which I would love to someday learn.
In the international art world, one of my greatest inspirations is Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Feisty and fearless, not only was she an incredible artist, but she was an incredible human. In her short life she endured over 30 surgeries and often painted from her bed. As someone who lives with chronic illness myself, I find it inspiring that she was able to channel her pain into her art so that something beautiful could be created and passed on.
My other favourite artist is Henri Matisse, master of colour, shape, and minimalist design. The idea that subtraction can sometimes add more to the visual experience is very intriguing to me. One of my favourite quotes of his was, “never ruin a good painting with the truth." He seemed to have a sense of lightness and humour when approaching art, which I find appealing.
Is there a specific work you’ve completed that you are the most proud of?
One of my favourite pieces is called Stay Connected. It was the beginning of a period for me when I started trusting my instincts and just allowed the design to flow from my mind onto the page. I’ve created a few versions of it with different colour combinations. It will always remind me of an interesting time in my life - the pandemic. Out of such a dark period for humankind came one of my most important personal revelations, which was that I wanted to be an artist.
Do you have any advice for new and emerging artists?
Attend local art events! This is a great way to meet fellow artists and engage with your local arts community.
A lot of times being an artist can feel lonely and vulnerable, so getting feedback when you’re first starting out can be very valuable. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there on social media, even if you aren’t the most technically savvy (like me!) You don’t need to be on all the platforms, just choose one and start small.
Above all, try not to take yourself too seriously. If you enjoy producing art, chances are someone else will enjoy it and that’s reason enough to release it out into the wild. In my opinion the world will always need more art so don’t be afraid to make your contribution. Make peace with the fact that not everyone will understand your art, however, most people respect the bravery it takes to be an artist, so I say just go for it and see what happens!
And my last piece of advice is, ”it’s never too late”! Art had never been a central part of my life until a few years ago, and at the age of 40 I began discovering a passion for it. Young, old, or middle age...there is never a wrong time to explore your creativity.