#WeAreEase : Sharing the Character of Place

#WeAreEase with Bessie Jo Creative #watercolor #painting artist, maker, craft, watercolor painting, custom watercolor paintings, drawing



Inspiration. Defined simply as being mentally stimulated, or the feeling of something. Her process, her images, her lust for creativity evokes all of that. Jessica Shepherd of Bessie Jo Creative so easily echoes all of what we always, 100% steadfastly work towards in our community, #WeAreEase. She effortlessly expresses her creativity, while provoking intelligent thought, and shares the gift of connectivity with others.


Jessica reached out to us a few months ago to to participate in her Place Project. She outlines the project describing it as :

...character, places that are well used and well loved. I believe that these places hold stories and histories - some that we’ll never even know. I love reminiscing about precious memories I’ve made with loved ones in the places I’ve lived. Now, I want to spread that feeling by capturing YOUR place and those memories that YOU hold so dear.

Her invitation to participate in her Place Project filled us with joy, and gave us a moment to relish in the beauty of community and we knew we had to share this good feeling with you.


#WeAreEase with Bessie Jo Creative #watercolor #painting artist, maker, craft, watercolor painting, custom watercolor paintings, drawing


What does place mean to you?


‘Place’ is the old cracked plaster of your bedroom walls, the front porch swing at your grandparents’ house, the fireplace at the very heart of the house you grew up in. But ‘Place’ is about so much more than a physical location. It’s about how you interact with that physical space and the way you live or lived there. So, in that way, it’s about both nostalgia and commemoration. Both celebrating memories that you made in a beloved place in your life as well as validating the ones that you are making wherever you find yourself currently. 


Walk us through your place of meaning. What does it look like, how does it feel, what stories does it hold?


I actually have a few different places that have meant a lot to me in my life and that I look back on for inspiration. Most often I think about the old family farm house where I currently have my studio. It’s a big white house with black shutters and a wrap-around porch. It has a long driveway, a pasture for cows and a swimming pool to one side. It was built a century ago on a piece of land a few miles away and moved to its current location. 


My family moved into the house when I was 11. I remember moving in, feeling the weight of the space that was so much more than our previous house, and walking around the land happily climbing trees with my siblings. We never renovated much over the years, but just made small changes to paint and decor. I’ve painted many of those walls myself (and one time the ceiling of my room in a bright yellow. Yikes!). 15 years later, it still feels grand to me. It has held different meanings and memories for me over the years but I love that it has seen so many stages on mine and my families lives and that it has been that constant ‘place’ for us. 


#WeAreEase with Bessie Jo Creative #watercolor #painting artist, maker, craft, watercolor painting, custom watercolor paintings, drawing


Through your creative process, how do you feel you convey the character of a place?


The character of a place to me is all in the details, especially the imperfect details. I want to convey a real place loved by real people - not a portrait of a perfect house. This means I work to achieve a balance of necessary detail with looser emotive strokes. I also try to imbue a mood into the piece based on my talks with the client and the reference photos. Some examples are cheerful, serene, familiar, stately. 


What sort of emotions or feelings surround you as you illustrate someone else’s place?


When I sit down to make a piece I have lots of bits of information in my mind that I am bringing together. I have an impression of the person I’m making it for and how this place relates to them and their lives, and I am setting out to translate that, using the photos of the physical place, into something commemorative and beautiful. I feel a responsibility much larger making these pieces than I do when making pieces for my own collections. The meaning of the piece - my client’s love for this place - is already there and I am trying to make something that will be a lasting reminder of that meaning for them. Because of this I feel a weight of responsibility but also a joy in knowing this piece will go to someone who will cherish it. 


How do you feel this project connects you to others?


One of the best parts of this project for me is getting to know the people I get to make the pieces for! I get to know some pretty important things about people through the place that they choose. Usually where they are from, what place and phase of their life so far holds the most importance for them. I love seeing and hearing about the unique places that have been important to people. The more people I talk to about this project the more I realize how strong a hold ‘place’ really has on our lives. 


#WeAreEase with Bessie Jo Creative #watercolor #painting artist, maker, craft, watercolor painting, custom watercolor paintings, drawing


What is the most rewarding part of participating in this project?


By far the most rewarding part is hearing from clients when the receive their finished pieces. I even had one tell me that it brought tears to her eyes when she opened it. 


How do you hope this project impacts or influences others?


I hope that people will be inspired to commemorate the places they’ve loved in their lives. Whether it is a house their great grandfather built that has stayed in the family, the tiny first home that they lived in with their spouse, or the view of the mountain their family visited every summer - often these places have had great influence on us and we didn’t even realize it. I also hope that people will feel validated in the places that they are in life right now. I believe that even when we are not living in our dream houses, the place and the phase in life that we are in is important and often needed. 




As we find rest + relaxation, Jessica’s process inspires us to always create and use our artistry to connect us to others as we build relationships. Get in touch with Jessica to have your place illustrated.


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