Jessica Rose now divides her professional time between teaching and art (and the occasional cat!). She is a classic example of someone who has decided to embrace creativity not just for pleasure but as a profession too. She spent much of her early career as a journalist and then decided on a full time career change eight years ago to an artist. She has not looked back.
While Jess is an accomplished watercolour artist, and uses this medium a lot in her work, the call of print has never really left the journalist in her. This time however, she is on the other side, not producing copy to go into print, but producing art in print herself. This interest was sparked through learning to print at secondary school. She was lucky enough to have one of those inspirational and dedicated art teachers who spent quality time with students. This teacher was the first person that showed her how to take a complex process through from start to finish, hazards and all. She found herself playing around with dangerous chemicals, acid, naked flames, dust and hot wax at an early age. Jess comments “I’m not sure health and safety rules would be so tolerant these days!”
Jess talked me through the etching process today, like she used in the The Globe piece above, and it’s very specialised. Etching was originally invented to decorate suits of armour. It wasn’t long before artists, like Rembrandt for example, caught onto it. He became a master etcher. Many people are quite surprised to learn that Rembrandt’s fame and international reputation came from the work he produced through the etching process, not painting. As the 20th Century developed then many artists took up some type of printmaking - Picasso for example.
Jess explains that there are not too many print makers in UK compared with other countries. In the US, printmaking is more accepted as a fine art discipline, but less so in the UK. However, there are some printmaking methods that provide a quick and fun method to reproduce your own art. Linocut is one of these techniques, and one which Jess teaches. She explains just how accessible it is and if you need more evidence of its value, then check out Picasso’s work at the British Museum.
Jess is a talented watercolourist too. Pet portraits are a large part of Jess’s work and are great fun. She loves rescue animals – especially being around lots of cats through her work in a cat rescue centre. “They make really popular presents and whilst I often work from photos, I do try and meet the pet if I can. I want to try and capture the character.”
What is your favourite art form?
Jess probably loves printmaking most of all, and she loves doing big work. She could spend all day printmaking but she believes that to focus on only one thing can inhibit your development and creativity. For this reason, Jess likes to maintain work in a number of disciplines. “You can always learn from other types of work”. She loves teaching drawing, painting and printmaking, and trained to be a renaissance style artist. Jess still thoroughly agrees it is the best way to learn.
She recently bought a big printing press – a beast from Harry F Rochat Ltd and this produces many of her wonderful prints. This press is like something out of an Aga factory made in heavy steel based on early 20th Century designs. She ended up with the biggest press she could manage and it now lives in the bedroom (luckily in a ground floor flat) in London! It has tremendous force and has lots of gears. Jess explains “it will outlive all of us, and it produces beautiful prints”.
What else is on the agenda?
Jess recently took part in The Landscape Artist of the Year competition run by Sky Arts. It was really hard to paint all outside with no water and at the whim of the weather. “It was great fun but you get rained on and blown away.”