Interview with Jessica Newman
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your history and your experience with art before arriving at the Academy?
I started painting in high school and studied fine art at the Rhode Island School of Design for my freshman year of college. After a year, I transferred from RISD to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I graduated with a BFA in Interior Design, and my career in interior design has been a successful one. I worked for Hirsch Bedner and Associates, the top hospitality firm in the world, as well as smaller architecture and interior design firms in New York, Georgia, and California. Everywhere I worked I was always the one who did the architectural illustrations that were presented to the
client. I eventually started a freelance business doing architectural illustrations, and most recently co-authored a textbook on perspective drawing for Pearson/Prentice Hall, “Perspective and Sketching for Designers.” The textbook focuses on perspective drawing methods and has been published in English and Chinese.
Soon after graduating with my BFA in Interior Design, I began to paint again. I studied in the studios of artists whose work I admired: George Benedict in New York, Sarah Hughes and Chris Didimezio in Atlanta, and Jeff Watts and Janet Cooling in San Diego. I was very excited to enroll at AAU’s online program in 2006(!) to study painting. I took classes slowly (one or two at a time) while working full-time as an instructor at the Art Institute of California – San Diego, where I teach undergraduate interior design classes. The MFA degree seemed so far away, I wasn’t really focused on it. I tried to enjoy my classes and learn as much as possible to become a better artist.
Did you have any rewarding experiences or interactions with teachers while you studied at the Academy?
Yes! Jesse Mangerson and Dean Larson are both amazing instructors, I learned so much from them! I try to keep their knowledge in mind when I paint, such as the Dean Larsonism “painting is all about variety.” Jesse Mangerson was instrumental in helping me get ready for my solo show at the Cannery this month. He reviewed each piece with me. They are both great teachers in addition to being great artists, and I feel honored that I had the opportunity to study under them.
Juniper and Ivy, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas, 24" x 20"
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Creating art that I love in a manner that I find fulfilling. Hopefully selling that art in galleries.
Are you having any upcoming group or individual shows that you would like to share with us?
I will be in a group show Perfect 10 at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego on August 8th.
What subjects are you drawn to?
I am drawn to buildings, and urban landscapes, no surprise there, based on my other career in interior design. I am documenting my city, San Diego, as it changes. My Vanishing Point series currently at the Cannery, focuses on abandoned and neglected architecture. Some of the themes explored include gentrification, demolition through neglect, and adaptive reuse.
My next series is of canyon homes. It’s a uniquely Southern California thing; hills with palm trees and little white boxes. You can see my paintings at jessicanewmanart.com
What was your biggest challenge as a student?
My biggest challenge was learning not to compare my work to my classmates’ work. I had so many talented classmates at AAU, it could be intimidating at times! I truly miss seeing their artwork progress, and being inspired by them.