The second you stop and think about what you are creating – you have stopped creating’ – Sonja Picard
I first came across Jesse’s work many years ago through the internet and I was really intrigued by his work. Once I found his website with videos of him painting, I was really captivated by his process by which he creates. I had the pleasure of meeting Jesse in October and participating in his Vancouver workshop. Jesse is the ‘real deal’ as artists go. During his process of creating, there is no agonizing, stressing or overthinking about anything – he’s super chill, real and honest about himself and his work. He is very dedicated and hard working and produces a ton of paintings! He has stuck to his process of the fundamentals: to get your work out there and to make a name for yourself. It’s not easy; it requires focus, hunger, and long days in the studio to make lots of art. He claimed to have made over 1200 paintings in twelve years– um what?
Jesse Reno is a self taught artist who currently lives in Portland Oregon. His work offers narrative creatures from another time, past, present or future. They seem to hold a shamanic presence with symbols that create a language from ancient times, or some symbolic reference that I would call a ‘Jesse language’. Jesse Reno is, in my mind, one of those artists who is purely connected to his intuition and ‘feels’ the movement of the brush or his hand connecting to the canvas. He doesn’t think too much, or at all in fact, what the end destination of the painting will be. Watching him in a 2-day workshop was fascinating to me – the dude floats and plays and simply lets it just flow out of him.
Sounds easy? Think again, its one of the biggest struggles that many artists have, and he seems to be totally connected to his source of creativity. You can learn a lot about an artist from how they handle their materials and how they approach their canvas. Jugs of paint surround Jesse as he kneels on the floor where his canvas lays… he reaches over, takes a quick glance at a few jugs of paint, pumps paint into the palm of his hand then another color, rolls it and smooshes it in his hand, and then without much of a pause, approaches his canvas and just goes in with a playful attitude mixed with confidence. Images emerge, a being is revealed and he simply plays with this image – feeling what the being might feel, really talking to it and bringing it to life.
I sat down and asked him some questions for The Creatrix. Here is what Jesse had to say and share.
SP – You are so in the moment when you create – did that come easy when you began painting?
JR – Yes it did, I was a musician before I started painting – music forces you to improv and be in ‘the moment’, so it was easy to shift this energy into painting.
SP – When you walk into your studio, what are the three things you absolutely have to have in your work space?
JR – Music!!!! Paint! That’s it really.
SP – Anyone or anything that influences your art today?
JR – Yeah tons of stuff, ancient and primitive cultures, sculptures, contemporary graffiti, the idea and immediacy of it, the random marks, stuff that was blocked out and layered over. The skateboard culture is really big for me, it’s so graphic.
SP – I went onto your website and checked out your list and references of symbolism. I found some of your translations to be referenced to ancient cultures and some that seemed Jesse Reno translations – a language of your own?
JR – It was not something I really thought about – the symbols just randomly show up in my paintings – and sometimes for years; like circles, triangles, lines and a crossed line. I enjoyed making them on my paintings – it is not deliberate.
SP – Do you feel sometimes when you step back that you have created a painting that is speaking about what is going on in your life right now…. creating your own reality?
JR – Yes of course, its action reaction, something that has happened 2 or 3 days ago. Then I feel a need to throw a curve ball and destroy it and deconstruct it a bit – and then when it’s done, sometimes it’s revealed again. Then I just accept it – it’s suppose to be there.
SP – Let’s chat about art and the art of business. You started thru eBay and the internet has changed the game for artists over the last 10 years. What do you find works for you or concerns you? How do you navigate with galleries that represent you and your own clients of selling direct?
JR – Artists have levelled the playing field now, but you can’t replicate a great gallery. Anyone can find you. There is no more gatekeeper who can tell you can’t do this show or create that or someone telling you can not sell at this price etc. I do work with galleries and my prices are consistent. I am the one who has managed my career and why would I throw away an opportunity to sell direct to my collectors? I have yet to find a gallery that can guarantee to pay my bills for a whole entire year. I don’t want to work a ‘job’, I want to be an artist. That to me is the purest thing… to make work that I want to do – in a way I want and when I want. I don’t want to give up that freedom – what do you think is going to happen to your work if someone is controlling what you should make? I think it’s good for artists and I think it’s good for galleries. It keeps everyone honest and hardworking. It should not be looked at as a bad thing or competition between a gallery and artist. Even if someone or a gallery offered me a year paid of work, I don’t think I would take it for that reason – they will own you and tell you what they want for their money. There goes your freedom. Navigate your art the way you want to – there are no rules!
SP – You are pretty busy – you teach, you paint, and then there is the business side of what an artist does. What’s the next Jesse move that you would like to have unfold in your career?
JR – What’s next? More painting of what I want – I don’t really plan my life that way. I would like to travel less maybe for work – more studio time and be there without distraction. More time would be nice for just making music without an agenda. I enjoy interviews too – to convey my ideas. I love sharing the creative ideas with others and discussing them. A museum show that is coming up I’m pretty excited about – a cool public establishment that is just showing the work without the sale pressure.
Thank you Jesse, it was a real pleasure and a treat to hang out – check out his work, website and what he is up to. There are some cool videos to check out on the website of Jesse painting – be prepared to be captivated and entertained.
instagram and twitter- @jessereno
True Measure Gallery
3022 E Burnside st
Portland, OR 97214
Open most days 1-6pm
For appointments call 503 235 8549