art, artist, artist residency, chateau orquevaux, contemporary art, contemporary realism, jessica libor, painter, painting
Happy 2023! Although we are well on our way into 2023 now, I’ve been so busy this month rehabbing my new place (more on this later) that my updates have fallen to the wayside! Since it’s still January, I thought it would be a good idea to start the first missive of the new year off with a recap of the highlights of 2022, and hopes and plans for 2023!
JANUARY 2022: In the beginning of 2022 last year, much of my creative energy went into launching the Luminary Artist Academy, an intensive course for aspiring professional artists where I would come alongside students and coach them into a fully fledged art career over 6 months. This was an incredibly rewarding project, as I love making a difference in other’s lives in a positive way, and have gotten very positive feedback from students about how comprehensive the course is. I wrote and had much of the photographs for the course taken in Miami the month before during Art Basel, a very inspiring time. I still run this course for artists and will be relaunching it again in February 2023.
MARCH-MAY 2022: In the early Spring months, I created two major works, Persephone and Inner Realms. Persephone is centered around the myth of the same name originating from Ancient Greece, of the unwilling Queen of the Underworld whose arrival from the depths of the earth every Spring brings with is life to the land once again. I portrayed her in front of caves dripping with ice, her hair cascading down her shoulders and mimicking the frozen waterfalls behind her. She holds narcissus flowers, the first sign of Spring, and also brings them, as they spring up on the pathway where she walks. Persephone is a very interesting figure as she inhabits both light and dark, straddling the worlds of night and also of day and life. Although the Persephone original piece has been claimed, there are limited edition prints available.
My self portrait Inner Realms was inspired by looking at the portraits of women by Leonardo da Vinci. In particular, Portrait of Ginevra de Benci and of course, Mona Lisa, (particularly the hand gesture) were influences as I created this self portrait.
It is oil on mounted linen, with 24 karat gold leaf accents, and contains symbols that resonate with me at the moment. My figure is clothed in white which is timeless throughout the ages, with a crown of flowers as an idea of queen of nature. Lavender is my favorite color, symbolizing spirituality and creativity.
The rainbow adds magic and a promise of good things to come, and also is a nod to one of my favorite creative unions of animation and music, Disney’s original 1940 Fantasia set to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.
The Pegasus in the background, is an animal I have often dreamed of and feel is my spirit animal. The golden arrows represent an open heart. There is also a tangle of nature represented in the background, something as humans I believe we are all an integral part of, not separate.
Inner Realms is still available as the original, and signed, limited edition prints are also available.
MAY-JUNE 2022: In May to June, I organized and hosted a exhibition for artist Kathryn Kincaid called Every Petal through my Philadelphia based gallery, Era Contemporary. The exhibition was a smashing success! We also had a musical performance by Dallas Bardot at the event.
JULY 2022: In July, I left for France for the heavenly artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux! I was booked for two weeks at the residency, but spent an extra week in Paris soaking up the culture. For my week in Paris, I spent each day visiting sites that were off the beaten path, capturing paintings of the city from different angles.
Some of my most vivid memories from that week in Paris was staying across the street from the Lourve (in a very, very tiny place, but you know what they say about location!) , wandering the gardens under a full moon rising, painting the Eiffel Tower at dusk while crowds of people watched, visiting the Musee de la Romantique, meeting up with a friend and client from my teaching who lives in Paris, meeting up with an artist model (who modeled for Persephone and The White Deer) , visiting the old Paris opera house, and seeing an amazing classical ballet production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!
I did several oil and watercolor paintings in Paris! I also had professional photos taken by Paris street photographer Natalie Gardot, which you can see below.
I also made a comprehensive video about all my experiences in Paris, which you can watch here.
The city was breathtakingly beautiful, a true joy to experience and so beautiful that it was a bit of an out of body experience. Below are some photos from my week in Paris before my residency!
JULY 2022: In July, I continued my journey in France to Chateau Orquevaux! It was a long train ride to the northeast of France, and divine coincidence had it that I sat down on the train next to another artist bound for the residency as well! We had a lovely chat and were able to help each other with directions and our luggage.
The residency was truly incredible, and I was able to produce over 30 paintings and drawings there in 2 weeks. Watch my video about my time at the residency by clicking here.
Below is a journal entry from my time at the Chateau:
I am sitting right now outside the Château, overlooking sparkling waters of the lily pond, my eye drifting over the undulating emerald hills where trees have taken route as evidence of the lush and life-giving landscape. Feathery queen ann’s lace dots the hillside, and purple bachelors button contrast their beauty and nod in time to the gentle breeze. I am fascinated by the colors of the pond, how it changes in depth and clarity shift into deeper and cooler colors. The white cows are grazing peacefully off in the distance, and swallows swoop and play over the fields. I hear the old church bells ringing to tell the time, as they have been ringing for hundreds of years here in the small town of Oquevaux. In the morning, I hear the roosters crow, and all throughout the day there is the sound of the rushing waterfall far in the distance. The wind grazes gently through the trees, rustling ever so softly and providing a cool feel on the skin. Behind me I hear the clink of dishes from the Château kitchen as the cooks prepare the meal for tonight. And all around me are the subtle sounds of nature… The chirping of birds, the hum of insects, the chatter of the ducks on the pond, and late at night when it storms, the thunder over the hillside.I started my journey from America by spending several days in Paris. Paris has its own kind of exhilaration, a major metropolis steeped in beauty and ancient history, anchored by a rebellious and tumultuous history, and elevated by its peoples love of the arts and incredible accomplishments. I felt the energy of Paris every day that I was there, and energy of pleasure and happiness, creativity and euphoria. But since arriving at the Château, I have experienced a different kind of euphoria: a euphoria of peace.It is a dream come true for many artists, to let all other responsibilities fall away and to spend time creating purely from your hearts impulse, for a time while being completely supported by your environment and community. I have never experienced this kind of thing so completely before in my life. While I made me a comparison to graduate school, this residency was a different animal. The difference is in the freedom, the care, and the reverence by which the artist here are treated. The thing that I have noticed and felt very tangibly every day here is how artists are desired and revered here for their creativity and their gifts to the world. Each one of us artists who are here during this two week residency have been treated with the highest honor, and encouragement, which has resulted in a freedom of expression that is completely uninhibited. I will take this experience with me for the rest of my life as a time where I have felt completely at home, appreciated, and unbelievably inspired. Each day of the week brought forth new magic and delightful surprises. From my studio window, I watched the different colors of the sky and the weather change, keeping in tune with the landscape and feeling my body circadian rhythm match that of the earth. Daily walks with the other artists led us to discover queens corners of the village, pathways past rolling sheep farms, and pristine gardens hidden away beside cottages. On a hot day, we may go swimming in the pond and let the cool mountain spring water heal our sun heated skin. And every evening, a spread of food fit for a king is set out for us and a gong is rung so that way we all may partake together and enjoy the delicious succulent food and each other’s company. The creative collaboration of so many different artists from different backgrounds is priceless. If you are ever created we stuck, discussing it with other educated and inspired individuals will be sure to give light to your artistic dilemma.In my own practice, I have been able to do about a dozen paintings so far, ranging from plein air works capturing the gorgeous landscape to imaginative sketches inspired by fairytales completed in my studio, to figure drawing sketches as myself and the other residents took turns modeling for each other. I am also working on a very large painting that I have really put my heart and soul into depicting a woman with her arms outstretched and golden rays coming out of each hand; she seems to be in a trance in a beautiful woodland, creativity pouring out of her hands. There are many layers to the meaning behind this painting, but I am enjoying the process of discovering it as I create it. I have also created a short dramatic and comedic film inspired by fairytales, as a collaboration with two of the other residents. It is called the “Princess and the Fox” and it was a playful delight to create! The château hosted a screening night for the film, and all of the residents watched after the film was complete. It was a moment of such honor and love, and so gratifying to hear the laughs, enjoyment and feedback from the residents as they watched our creation! You too can watch the film if you are curious, by clicking here or on the image below.I still have several days left at the Château, and am hard at work creating and finishing the work that I have begun here. It is truly one of the most magical and transformative experiences of my life being here and a place where my soul feels completely at peace. For those of you who want a deeper dive into my experience at the Château, you can watch my YouTube video I made about the first week by clicking here . And below, enjoy some photos from my experience there.
|AUGUST 2022: After getting back from France in August, I began preparing for my solo show Preternatural on September 11th. During August, I framed work made in France, pre-sold work to collectors, and recovered from the trip!|
SEPTEMBER 2022: The beginning of September included a beautiful editorial of my work published by Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. You can read it here!
On September 11th, the Tyler Arboretum and Era Contemporary hosted my exhibition Preternatural. It was a magical evening, with all of my recent work on display, a wonderful turnout, and yummy food and drinks. I also had a calming musical sound bath performance by Dallas Bardo, including harps, rainsticks, gongs and more. This exhibition has been my most successful to date, with most pieces selling in the collection. There are still a few originals left as well as prints, which you can browse here.
Below are pictures taken from the exhibition, most taken by James Van Cleaf.
SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER: In early September, I took a breath after my exhibition and rested, shipping off the last of the pieces sold.
Then, on October 15, I made an offer on a very cool 1950s stone ranch house along the Main Line of Philadelphia. It needed a lot of work, but it had great bones and a very zen-like feeling to the space. My offer was accepted! I had been looking for another place for several years after fixing up my 700-square foot, 100 year old rowhome in Manayunk. I wanted somewhere I could both live and work, with space to breathe.
I began the process of getting my home ready for sale next…lots of donating things, organizing and giving away. It was a chance to go through everything and anything and start fresh!
In Late October, I went away with family for a week in Ireland. There I created several watercolors and had many adventures on the beautiful cliffs of Ireland, horsebackriding, and exploring old Irish castles! See below for a few pictures from Ireland.
NOVEMBER 2022: In November, I moved into my new 1950s stone ranch! The day after I moved in, I hosted an open house for my Manayunk rowhome, and it sold the first day.
And due to a synchronicity beyond me, the realtor for the buyer happened to have collected a large piece of mine ten years ago, before I started keeping good records! She recognized my name and texted pictures of the piece in her kitchen! It was truly meant to be!
DECEMBER 2022: Closing for my Manayunk house to the new buyer! After closing, I began renovating my new place. It is an intensive process, and I’ve been at it for a month and a half. In that time, the carpets have been ripped up and replaced by pale, airy maple wood, the walls painted, new lighting installed, the kitchen updated and so much more. I am going with a “Parisian Zen” feel to the place, in calming neutral shades. My favorite part of the place is the sunroom where my plants are growing! And, the studio is coming along–a perfect workspace adjacent to the main living space! When things are a little more settled, I will share some before and after shots.
December also brought the opening reception for Legends of the Moon, a group exhibition I curated for Era Contemporary and hosted by Tyler Arboretum. It brought together many different artists work, all to be digitally catalogued and sent to the moon with the Lunar Codex, thanks to Samuel Peralta! It was a wonderful exhibition with a live harpist, food, hot cocoa, stargazing with astronomers and firepits to observe the moon right outside the show. Two of my own works were also included in the show, to be sent to the moon as well.
In 2022, I also had work included in the following group exhibitions: Salon de Refuses at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, 158th Annual Exhibition of Small Oil Paintings at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, The Art of the Flower at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Animalia at Abend Gallery, Wonderland at the Art Effect Gallery, and Phillustration at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. I also completed numerous commissions for private clients.
It’s been an incredible year full of adventures, creativity and learning experiences! A lot of big things happened for me in 2022, like purchasing a home, going on my first artist residency, having work go to the moon, and having my most successful art show ever. I’m proud of what I have accomplished in 2022 and excited for 2023.
Speaking of which…what will 2023 bring?
As I’m planning out my year, I try to leave room for the spontaneous opportunities that inevitably cross my path. But beyond leaving room for flexibility, there are many exciting things I hope to do in 2023! I have a few secret goals I’m not allowing out of the bag yet, but here are a few things already on the calendar:
In March, an artist residency in a Scotland manor house. Relaunching the Luminary Artist Academy. In the summer, another artist residency in France at a different location! In the fall, a group show for Era Contemporary, and also an artist retreat I will be hosting in my new home. In late fall, perhaps a solo show around a new body of work made this year!
More details to come of course, as the year unfolds! Thank you as always for your part in my creative career, I am so thankful for your invaluable contribution of time, attention and support.
With creativity and gratefulness,