This summer was an exciting one, full of lots of learning and traveling. Since my first year of my Master’s in Fine Art finished in May, I’ve been working in my studio at home a lot, sketching out ideas in my sketchpad, and planning out pieces.
Inside Steven Assael’s studio
One of the highlights was visiting Steven Assael’s studio. I originally visited to purchase a piece—a small, elegant sketch of a reclining woman, looking behind her. My friend Holly and I visited. It was a treat to see the inside of his Manhattan studio—a studio draped in heavy cloths and curtains like a theatre, with racks of antique costumes, masks and props hung over mannequins. Dozens and dozens of highly finished drawings, more beautiful than real life, filled up the walls. Mr. Assael ended up doing a quick sketch of me as I was there, as well. I was amazed at how quickly he could capture a likeness. He was kind enough to give us advice as aspiring artists, as well.
Inside Steven Assael’s Studio, with work in process bride painting in the corner
Sketch of Jessica Libor, by Steven Assael, 2013
Being in New York City for a bit was inspiring. The hum and energy of the city always fills me with new energy, and I return home with a higher standard to hold myself to.
One of the trips there included a show at Arcadia in Soho—Malcolm T. Liepke’s solo exhibition. What I like about Liepke’s work is the consistency. Also, the way he uses color in the clothing, eyes, and hands of the figures is extremely pleasing to the eye. Loving fashion, I enjoy his interplay of high fashion and art. As always at Arcadia, the show was well attended, the gallery staff friendly and knowledgeable, and the show had substance and talent that was worth the trip.
Jessica Libor at Malcom Liepke show
An exciting day trip this spring was a trip to Washington, DC to the National Gallery of Art to see the show “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848—1900”. I arrived there just in time for to see the cherry blossoms in bloom!
I’ve always loved the Pre-Raphaelites, but after studying in depth their history and personal lives this past year, I was ready to see their pieces in the flesh. The show did not disappoint! The exhibition had all the major works by Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Millias and Rossetti.
Ophelia, by John Everett Millais
It was incredible to be able to stand inches away from Ophelia and be able to study the brushstroke’s Millias’ hand made. It was moving how sincere the artists in the exhibition were—they were fully committed to the image and to the story each piece told. Even though the Pre-Raphaelites were out of fashion for a time, it’s my belief that sincerity and passion stand the test of time, and are beginning to be recognized again for their value.
The National Gallery describes the exhibit: “The young members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848, shook the art world of mid-19th-century Britain by rejecting traditional approaches to painting. Combining scientific precision, an innovative approach to subject matter, and brilliant, clear colors, Pre-Raphaelitism was Britain’s first avant-garde art movement.”
This summer also involved several photo shoots—I’m lucky enough to have some lovely friends and family who were willing to pose for me. We did several photo shoots on beautiful summer days that involved some serious tree climbing, dress-up, and swimming. Thanks so much to my up-for-anything models Lauren, Tim, Courtney, Kelley, Adam and Todd!
Letting loose on a photo shoot…
With my two beautiful models, Kelley and Lauren!
Modeling for an artist sometimes means climbing trees…
Another highlight was being able to study with the gilder and painter Brad Kunkle for the day in Brooklyn. I’ve admired Brad’s work ever since I saw it at Arcadia, and it was wonderful to be able to learn from a master gilder and painter such as him.
Jessica Libor and Brad Kunkle
His unapologetically beautiful images of figures infused with mythological, but obscure, situations resonate with something of my own vision. After studying with him, gilding with gold and silver leaf back in my own studio goes much more quickly and easily, after learning the correct process of applying it in conjunction with oil paint.
Eidolon, gold and silver leaf, Brad Kunkle
My favorite–30,000 Feet, Brad Kunkle
Her Own Field, by Brad Kunkle
During the late summer, I made the day long drive up to New Hampshire to study with landscape painters associated with the Grand Central Academy, Lauren Sansaricq and Erik Koeppel. It was here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that dozens of artists from all over the world gathered to learn from Lauren and Erik. I had never taken a landscape instruction course in my life, and thought it was time. During the course of the week, our group painted in a different location outside each day, many of the locations the same ones that the Hudson River Valley artists painted in. It was a welcome change to be able to spend the whole day out of doors, in the crystal clear air.
New Hampshire streams
New Hampshire woods
White Mountains of New Hampshire
After the course, I felt like I wanted to re-paint any landscape I’ve ever done, now that I knew the tricks and principles of Hudson River Valley painters as practiced by Lauren and Erik. I was lucky enough to see Lauren and Erik’s studio as well, and see their latest works in progress from their recent trip to Yellowstone National Park. I love the way their atmospheres look so airy and detailed. Many thanks to them for opening up their home and studio to those eager to learn.
Get together after class–inside Lauren and Erik’s studio
Inside Erik and Lauren’s studio
Painting in one of the overlooks in the mountains–Lauren third from left
In the middle of painting on location…perched on some rocks in the middle of a stream!
Below, some of the plein air paintings I was able to complete while in New Hampshire. Please contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested in purchasing.
Jackson Falls, oil on panel, 10″x12″, Jessica Libor 2013
Summer, oil on board, 8″x10″, Jessica Libor 2013
Blue Mountain, oil on board, 10″x10″, Jessica Libor 2013
Jackson Falls, study, oil on panel, 4″x6″, Jessica Libor 2013
In August I was included in a group show at SOHO20 Gallery in Chelsea, NY. I exhibited my piece, Anna of the Woods.
Anna of the Woods, oil on linen board, 10″x12″, Jessica Libor 2012
Another great trip was a visit to Newport, Rhode Island. This was such a fun trip, being a family vacation, so it was good to share explorations with my mom, dad, sister and her husband, and their crazy dog, Ollie. In between visiting the beach and exploring the town, we were able to hit up several museums and art galleries. Worth mentioning was the William Vareika Fine Art Gallery, right along Newport’s main street. They specialize in 18th and 19th century art, and have a huge collection of William Trost Richard’s paintings and drawings. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in that part of town.
William Trost Richards treasure room
Another fabulous museum is the National Museum of American Illustration, housed in a historical mansion close to downtown Newport. Here they house a large number of Maxfield Parrish’s illustrations and paintings, which look like glowing jewels inside the mansion. I’ve always admired Parrish’s work, so it was incredible to be able to study up close his paintings. Endless layers of glazes created his signature glowing effect. One thing that I really noticed about his work was the good design. The way he used trees, figures and architecture to balance and create tension in his work. For all his planning, his work has a sense of a dream world or alternate reality, in the best sense.
Daybreak, by Maxfield Parrish
Maxfield Parrish, Dream Garden
Maxfield Parrish, Moonlight
As far as my own work, I have planned out many of my paintings and transferred drawings to the boards that I work on. I have a clearer sense than before about the direction and feeling of my work. I’ve completed two paintings this summer, below.
The Reading, oil and gold leaf on panel, Jessica Libor 2013
April, oil and silver leaf on panel, 10″x12″, Jessica Libor 2013
There are several more in my studio in different stages of gilding and painting. I’ll be teaching a Master Painting class at a local art center this fall, and am excited for my first opportunity to completely create a course curriculum. I have updated my website and blog. I’m ready to start school again—my last year in school as an MFA 2 student at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Excited to dive into this year and immerse myself in that atmosphere of creativity once again.
I’ve also started a new project I am super excited about…I’ll be featuring different artists here on this blog, with in-depth interviews and photos that illuminate their process and thoughts that go into their work. If you have suggestions for interesting contemporary artists, or are an artist interested in being featured, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! This project will be ongoing, fueled by a desire to help fellow artists from all career levels.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more posts on my journey as an artist! Until next time, enjoy the last few days of Indian Summer 🙂