In Jessica Gordon’s For the Weary, a woman lies in a hammock, water rising up around her, at peace, but also seemingly overwhelmed.
LAKE NORMAN CURRENTS
is Ready for Her Solo by Claudette Bakhtiar | photography by Anthony Rikansrud
ncountering a painting by Jessica Gordon is a bit like having a large butterfly land on your thigh — it’s a mild shock to the system, at once beautiful and unsettling. There is a precision to her compositions that makes them startlingly real. She has an uncanny talent for capturing the tonal complexity of surfaces — skin, petals, walls — as well as light, shadow and water, as they move in the natural world. And the faces of her figures reverberate with an independent inner life, such that even sleeping figures appear to be dreaming. Her female figures, in particular, are notable for an
“In most of my paintings, it’s not just all beauty and ease. There is something in them that represents a check to that happiness.” — Jessica Gordon
extraordinary self-possession. These achievements become all the more astonishing when one learns that Gordon is self-taught.
Discovering her talent Growing up on a farm in Milford, Ohio, the daughter of
a salesman and a homemaker, Gordon never imagined being a painter. She rode horses and was aiming for the Olympics. But, when she was 17, the death of her trainer and father in quick succession, as well as her need for scoliosis-related back surgery, put an end to her equestrian ambitions.
Still, it wasn’t until 2010 when she was 31 that she first picked up a paintbrush. She wanted decorations for her children’s rooms and started with acrylic paintings of birds, cars and flowers. Surprised at how they turned out, she challenged herself to attempt more mature themes and oil
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