The Never-ending Process of Progress or Another New Beginning

Hello and welcome!  For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jessi.  I'm a multidisciplinary artist and pretty much everything I do revolves around connection and isolation, the masks we wear, and our desire and fear of being seen.  

Like most artists, I have cobbled together a living through various means at various times.  Due to a generous gift from my family, I have some time to focus solely on my art.  I'm "taking the donuts" (if you don't know what I mean go get yourself a copy of "The Art of Asking" by Amanda Palmer ASAP- you'll be glad you did) .   I'm using this time to make new work and get a few projects I've been dreaming about for years off the ground (go check out the Recycled Dreams section of the website, it's the first one!).   I'm also using it to write this blog.  I've been writing Morning Pages for over six years now (if you don't know what those are - check out "The Artists Way" ) but I have a bone deep terror of writing for public consumption.  I'm trying to get over that.  I'm looking for strategies of getting out of my own way and holding myself accountable - accountable for following my own dreams despite my fears.  I've been realizing I'm afraid of a lot of things.  Afraid of failure.  Afraid of success.  Afraid of what other people will think of me.  Afraid of what I think of me.  I have a really vicious inner critic.  I think most of us do.  However, I've also realized that, internet trolls aside, most folks will give you a lot more leeway than you give yourself. That's what I'm banking on anyway.   So, this will be my daily blog about this ever evolving art/life process.

Speaking of process, I want to do my best to document process as much as product.  I'm a process junkie.  I love seeing process.  Seeing/experiencing completed artwork (whether it's visual art, theater, music - whatever) is fantastic but part of the joy, for me, is trying to figure out how the artist/s got there.  I want to know how.  I want to see the technique.  I want to see the "mistakes."  I want to see the brains, the mess, the "ah-ha!" moments, the hair-tearing, the page flips and the belly-flops.  The things that changed, that didn't make it in, the possibilities for next time. I want to see how people got there.  How-to videos and books are wonderful things in my universe.  Classes with teachers that demonstrate are the best.  Open studios where artists are actually practicing in front of you make my heart sing.  The rehearsal process for a I wish more people could get in on those. The work, the practice, the process - I sometimes think they are more important than the product.  It's where you learn so many things - persistence, what does and does not work for you, where you realize "mistakes" can be genius, where failure to do what you intended can lead to glory.  It's where you are allowed to fail spectacularly.  We're so afraid of failure in our society.  So image conscious, so afraid to have people see us messy and disheveled and in pieces.  But we are all that way at some point and it's the mess we usually can relate to.   We rarely find anything worth having without fucking up a few times along the way.  So this blog - and the ones  for the projects - are to document process, attempts, the struggle to get things out and make things work.  I expect a lot won't work.  There will be fragments and pieces and days of blah.  But hopefully there will also be magic and successes and ways through.  I'm going to try to get out of my own way, past the fear of judgement (mine and yours) and put it all out there anyway.  If we can't support failure, we can't support success either because you don't have one without the other. If we want an open, creative, accepting society - and I do - then we have to let ourselves be seen, and trust each other with the mess and the success.  So this is me, trusting you and I hope you come to trust me too and share your stories along the way.  Thanks for reading and we'll talk tomorrow. 

I was walking down Madison Ave with my friend Elizabeth talking about needing to finish this website and start my blog when we saw this.  Sometimes the universe backs you up in the best ways.  Who would have thought the Barney's Christmas windows would be a motivating force? Thanks Baz Luhrmann!


Superbowl XLVII - PIANO 2014

FINALLY! I get to talk about THIS!!!! 

Yes my friends - if you read that article, you read it right - a piano I designed & painted, along with high school students from Sing for Hope's educational programs, will be at THE SUPER BOWL!!!!


I designed the top & front around Times Square.  The piano lurking in the background was designed and painted by Jessie Jo Warner and her parents, Kurt & Brenda Warner (yes, NFL  Kurt Warner  and no, I did't get to meet him)

I designed the top & front around Times Square.  The piano lurking in the background was designed and painted by Jessie Jo Warner and her parents, Kurt & Brenda Warner (yes, NFL Kurt Warner and no, I did't get to meet him)

I worked with 11 students from Sing for Hope's arts education classes. The NFL requested a New York themed piano so I had each of them tell me what their favorite part of NYC was and why. Using source images of the places they chose, they designed (singly & in teams) compositions of those places, transferred them to the sides of the piano & painted them (most of them in under 4 hours).   I connected all of their pieces with silhouettes I added of people going about their lives.  The NY masses! People watching was an activity mentioned by a good half of the students and, as it's one of my favorite activities, it seemed appropriate to have the piano crawling with people.  Here's some pics of their work (click on the images for a full view):

Since all of them were such rock stars, I decided they all needed to have their faces on billboards in Times Square - or at least on my piano version of Times Square.  So I painted all of their portraits on the top of the piano.  I painted 13 portraits in TWO DAYS! That's a personal record for me.  Here are some detail shots (click to expand photos):

The piano has already been moved to the IZOD center (where the NFL pre-game party/concerts will be held) .  For all of ya'll who are actually going to the Superbowl, it will be right at the front entrance of the IZOD Center so, go say hi, take your pic next to the piano and send it to me!!!! I'll post them here on the Superbowl Piano page.

Stay tuned for more updates!  Thanks as always for checking in :)

Sing For Hope Piano Time Warp #3: COLOR!

This is the second post today.  What can I say - I'm a feast or famine type-o-gal. So about half an hour ago I left you hanging with the piano primed ina ghostly all white state.  Finally the really fun part - adding color!  That first brush stroke is always the hardest.  Where to begin?  Right smack dab in the center of course!

Sunset colors and a beating hand/heart
I eventually got rid of that green fingernail but it was fun for a hot second.

Then I needed some connectors - part wave, part vine, part tree branches/roots (you'll see as it evolves)

Some of these lines became hair too - multi-purpose - I like it.  It's all in how you look at it.

I was thinking of the arms as waves.  There were a lot of nature elements to this - a real feeling of the timelessness and cycles of growing things and the ebb and tide of water - endless ocean.  I was listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine.


So the back alone took about a week but it was totally worth it :)

Now the next challenge - pulling everything around the sides. I started here:


I knew it needed more work but wasn't sure what came next so I started on the fornt to give my subconscious sometime to work it out and/or to see if I just needed another part to be done for it to fall into place.

That little face profile ended up disappearing - didn't belong.

Remember how I mentioned tree feelings? This is what started happening on the front:


I added some color to the top too at this point.  Starting to feel the time crunch so was trying to work multiple bits at once.


This post is getting epically long.  Then again it was a pretty epic process so I guess that fits.  I'm going to leave you with a pic of the mostly finished top and expanded front:


Next post - the final side and finished product pics!

Sing for Hope Time Warp #2

Ok, ok, I know, bad blogger. Here we are into week two of my piano on the street and I still haven't finished my time warp! Which is bad because I have so many new things to show you about this week on the street and the amazing people I've met at my piano. So this post is mostly going to be pics of the piano evolving so we can get up to present day ASAP. So we left off with Amanda's face on the right side of the piano and a need for more body parts ;) Here's the evolution from that point on in pictures:

I added three more faces.

I added some hands to the top front

Decided there needd to be more faces on the other side.

Then I did a bunch of priming - FYI priming sucks. That stuff sticks to everything and stinks like you wouldn't believe. Also, it's a real pain to get out of brushes. However it is necessary and made the piano nice and spooky white. Take a look:

Back primed

Right side primed

Then, after doing a late night casting session with Sonia (THANK YOU SONIA) it was time to deal with the top of the piano. Enter the dreamers:

Dreamer one

Dreamer 2

Then more priming and gessoing (I used the super thick Liquitex gesso on all the plaster pieces - that stuff is awesome).

Primed front

Primed & Gesso-ed back & top

Primed & gesso-ed Left Side

And then it was finally time for paint! Next post = COLOR :)

Sing For Hope Piano - Time Warp Part 1

Hello All! So about two months ago I started telling you about my Piano adventure with Sing for Hope.  I then got so busy making the piano I had no time to write about it!  However, I did document the piano's evolution in pictures.  As we lead up to the public unveiling of all 88 pianos I thought I'd bring you all up to speed by going back in time and tracking the piano's evolution.  So, where did I leave off...oh yes - the back of the piano.  As of my last post, all that was on was the central face and my heart/hands and I was about to have a plastering party!

Easter Sunday I had a plastering party (the invites might have read something like come and get plastered while you get plastered).  Many thanks to all who came out and let me cover them in vaseline and plaster gauze :) Here's a pic - sorry I don't have more.  If any of you who were there want to send me the ones I know you have on your phones - please do so!

Me being Vanna White while Sonia patiently waits for the plaster to dry.

After my plastering party it was back to the piano studio! Here is how the rest of the piano evolved over the next week.

First there was one arm (Al's arm to be precise):

IMG_3586Then there were 2 (that's either Tina or Virginia - tragically I have forgotten - swiss cheese for brains sometimes):

IMG_3587Then came third (that one is Sonia):


Here's another angle because it looks cool:

IMG_3589Then I added a 4th arm and a bunch of faces - Obviously I neglected to document in the middle - probably due to plaster covered hands and my nightly race against the clock:

IMG_3594Just FYI we are up to Wednesday, April 3rd.  I said I'd get you to the end of the week right? Right.  So I did this Thursday night:

IMG_3599And then I needed more body parts so I took Friday night off.  Stay tuned for what happened the following week!

Sing For Hope Piano - It Begins!

As some of you may know, I submitted a proposal to be one of the artists for Sing For Hope's annual Sing for Hope Piano Project and I was accepted!!!  I am essentially creating a bas-relief on the piano using plaster and papier-mache casts of a whole bunch of people from all over NYC.  Aiming for a 3D variation of my Black & White and Color work on a  PIANO :)  So exciting!

Last week was my first week in the piano studio working on my piano.  Here is a pic of me & my piano at he beginning aka the BEFORE PICTURE:

Me & My Piano BEFORE PIC

I mentioned I'm casting a lot of people right?  This includes some fabulous young people from Still Waters in a Storm. Check out some pics from our casting session:

Kid Casting 2_3_27_2013 Kid Casting 3_27_2013

Fun right?!?!

So I went straight from that casting session to the piano studio.  So then the piano looked like this:


And then like this:

Piano_Arm & 1 Face copy

Then this:

Piano_Arm & 2 Faces 2 copy

Then it was late  and I had to leave.  But I went back the next night and did this:

Piano_Arm & 3 faces copy

Then I thought I should work on the back a bit:

Piano_Back with Face & Heart Hands copy

Then I realized I needed more/different body part casts.  So I'm throwing a plastering part this weekend.  Stay tuned for updates :)

Enjoy your weekend!