I’ve known Jessica Matteliano as a writer for a while now. I was also excited to discover her work as an aist. If you have a fascination for portraiture, both animal and human, you’ll definitely want to have a look at Jessica’s lively work.
And here we have Jessica Matteliano In The Limelight!
You have a great eye for expression and portraiture. How did you discover this ability?
Thank you! I believe that art, no matter what medium, is a means of expression. It could be an internal feeling that must be transposed onto paper, or an external force to communicate a message. The face, especially the eyes, is what humans are initially drawn to look at. Because whether you consider it a euphemism or truth, the eyes are the windows to the soul. I began drawing as a young child, and my first subjects were strictly animals, mainly horses. Even from then, I desired to capture the soul inside the eyes. In the eyes is where a portrait comes alive. Until the eyes have the effect I’m looking for, the painting will not be complete.
I adore your noirish Classic Hollywood Portraits. Tell us about them.
In an age where everything is sensual and risqué, I am drawn to the classic Hollywood portraits that showcased a more modest and classy beauty. A number of years back, I decided to begin a series of these talented and classic faces due to the fact that much of my generation, and younger ones, aren’t aware of these names or faces; by painting them, while bringing color to their timeless eyes, I would hope to bring them the attention that they still deserve, to bring admirers back to another time of nostalgia and enigmatic sophistication.
And the pet portraits? Tell us about those too.
During my early years until around the age of 17, I refused to paint humans. My few attempts at painting them back then were never up to my par, so I “boycotted” the human figure altogether from my sketchbooks and portfolios. My main focus during those early years were mainly horses and wild animals. With the help of friends and family, I began receiving commissions for dog portraits, mostly in the pastel and pencil medium. It’s a hard niche to get into as there are so many talented pet portrait artists out there in all mediums. All my commissioned work is strictly by word of mouth, and it’s a subject I still very much enjoy.
I’m amazed by your animal illustrations. They are so vibrant and full of energy…The chameleon’s eyes, and there’s all the wonderful horses too! How long does a work like the chameleon or a single horse take you?
As mentioned before, horses were my main art subject from young. A horse piece requires much less time to complete than an unusual subject like the chameleon, or a bird, etc. It’s all about texture. The more detailed (furry, feathery, or scaly) the texture, the longer it will take me.
I have a tendency to underestimate the length of time it will take to complete a drawing. Without the background, a full-body horse in motion (colored) will take me around 5-8 hours. Something more detailed, such as a reptile or bird, can take twice as long, if not more. Due to external circumstances, it usually takes me a few nights to complete a painting.
I was fortunate to come across your tutorial on creating portraits in Photoshop and picked up a few tips myself. Will you be doing more tutorials or running a workshop in the future, perhaps?
I’m glad they were helpful! I enjoyed creating those tutorials as I love helping others improve and learn. Part of the fun of looking at other people’s artwork is discovering their tips and tricks and adapting them to your own style. I haven’t created a tutorial as of late, only because I feel that there is already so much out there, how could I possibly offer something “new?” I’m afraid I don’t have the time or means to run a workshop at the moment, but if someone requested a tutorial from me in the future, I would most certainly oblige!
You draw inspiration from a wide range of cultures (for example there’s a rune prominent on one Asian-looking character’s hair accessory) and from the natural world too. I know you’re a fan of Pinterest. Can you tell us a little about your creative process/es?
Much of my inspiration comes from other images, whether it be a photograph or a painting – hence, the ever-growing number of pins on my Pinterest account! Every image has a mood, and oftentimes that mood will connect with what I’m currently feeling. My fantasy portraits tend to reflect a theme, such as the Ihwaz painting. I wanted to portray a symbol of what I was feeling at the time (“The path is hard and lonely and there is no end to sight”). I recall being inspired by headdresses and wanting to create a portrait with a headdress. Ihwaz is Rune number 13 and symbolizes the yew tree (Yggdrasil), as well as symbolizing magic and the archer’s bow.
Anyway, when a certain image strikes me, I will take it and transform it into my own vision. Oftentimes, it’s nothing more than wanting to accentuate the movement and grace of a horse mid-stride, to bring out the way the sun makes the dappling shine along its musculature. My writing follows a similar method where I am inspired by another work of art and my mind uses it as a launching pad to create my own version.
I knew you first as a writer. Do you find your art feeding your writing and vice versa?
Not necessarily. As a full-time wife and mother, part-time worker, and full-time freelancer, it’s hard to be able to let my creativity flow the way I’d like it to. I have to compartmentalize much of my art and writing projects in order to be productive. I hate to sound like a clichéd artist, but creativity needs time to grow and bloom. That being the case, my writing and artwork are separate entities, though I’m hoping that one day I will be able to merge the two together!
So here’s what I’m finding difficult: finding a balance between designing and writing, and expressing my creativity vs working on projects which might actually pay! Any advice for me and others like me?
Prioritize! My family comes first, paying jobs come second, and personal projects third. With my busy schedule, nearly all of my personal endeavors are stuck in the wayside. Figure out what is most important to you, which leads me to my second point: organization is imperative! When an idea does strike me, whether it’s writing or art-related, I jot them down in an idea journal (bullet journal, in my case). Inspiration to paint a particular drawing come and go, but writing tends to be more mechanical for me. I enjoy figuring out the details, so writing down new ideas works best for me.
I spend the daytime hours working or taking care of my home (cooking, cleaning, schooling, errands, etc.), and after dinner, I begin working on my freelance projects. If I’m ahead of schedule, I’ll instead spend time on my personal writing projects. I do mandate myself at least one night off during the week for my personal projects because stress does build up after 5-6 consecutive nights of staring at the computer screen!
You’ve worked on a wide range of projects: gaming, calendars, commissioned private portraiture…and there’s the writing projects too. What new venture are you excited about for the future?
I’m currently working on two paid art projects, as well as a commissioned pencil sketch. And right, not to mention my personal two writing projects that are subject to the regular work load! I’ve just completed one novella and am currently in the editing process, and I’m excited to begin research for the second novella! I’m anticipating writing content for the game art project I’m currently working on.
Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was such a pleasure and I am truly honored to be a part of your wonderful blog!
And thank you, Jessica, for taking the time from your crazy schedule to answer these questions and share your work with us.
About Jessica Matteliano:
I’ve been sketching since single digits and began digital painting in my late teen years. Around the age of eleven, I began focusing on detail and accuracy and discovered that art was something worth pursuing. Pencil sketches and digital paintings are the preferred medium, and wildlife and portraits are my preferred subjects.
Writing fiction vies for my attention. If I’m not painting, I am writing (or reading!). I began writing in my single digits as well, and my life since my teen years are filled with writing and art projects.
Now at age 30, with a family of my own and life responsibilities, my free time is spent alternating between writing and painting.