Jessica Wilson, this week’s cover artist, was drawn to East Lansing by the wide-open spaces of rural Mid-Michigan. A proponent of self-sufficiency, Wilson was looking for enough land to grow her own food and found Greater Lansing to be a “a no-brainer.”
“Land is so affordable here, and there’s so much fresh water,” she said.
A New Mexico native, Wilson started drawing at a young age and picked up painting in high school. After earning a degree in fine art from the University of New Mexico in 2006, Wilson bounced around, living in California, Oregon and Colorado. While house hunting in Colorado, Wilson and her husband were unable to find places with enough space for farming.
“Everything was so expensive,” she said. Wilson’s husband has family in Williamston, so they started looking at the area. The couple found a suitable property and made the move to East Lansing earlier this year.
Prior to the move, Wilson, 34, had always worked full-time jobs outside of art, relegating her painting to somewhere between a side gig and a glorified hobby. The move to Mid-Michigan, with its relatively low cost of living, meant that Wilson could afford to stay home and focus on painting.
“It was always a dream of mine to be an artist,” she said. “Once I got here, I really wanted to push my art.”
A selection of Wilson’s paintings will be on display at Capital City Reprographics Friday as part of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing’s Arts Night Out event. The traveling monthly art event returns to Old Town for November, turning shops and storefronts into one-night pop-up galleries and performance spaces.
Wilson infuses her primary medium, oil paint on canvas, with bold colors and nature imagery. She remembers being fascinated by color at an early age, and she still loves mixing paints to get the perfect shade. She lists New York artist Alex Grey and his style of psychedelic realism as primary influences.
“I like the more spiritual side of art,” she said.
But she is also inspired by Impressionist pioneer Claude Monet. She appreciates the subtle haziness of Monet’s paintings and tries to bring it into her work.
“A lot of people say my painting looks like watercolors,” she said.
While Wilson starts her paintings with an image she is trying to convey, she leaves it up to the viewer to decide what it means.
“I have an idea in mind,” she said, “but I want the viewer to take away whatever is most meaningful for them.”
Arts Night Out
5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4
(Call or see web for participating artists and locations)
Old Town, Lansing
(517) 372-4636, myartsnightout.com