Jessica Watts Jessica Watts

About Me

“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f*** you were gonna do anyway.”
—Robert Downey Jr.

I have always painted, but I haven’t always taken the advice of Robert Downey Jr. And so I began my career doing something “useful” with my creativity by working as an art director in advertising. Through those years I hoarded all sorts of ephemera—vintage storybooks, old bingo cards, the fortunes from every cookie I ever ate... so when I finally succumbed to the joy of my inner Downey Jr, I had a wealth of collage material at hand.

I paint predominantly in oils but my art is rooted in collage. For me there is an affection and tenderness in the re-use and re-purposing of things that once belonged to someone else.

Beauty is more about the hidden than the revealed and in my recent body of work “Wallflower”, inspiration is taken directly from my trove of vintage wallpapers. Using oil, enamel, acrylic and paper, female forms are cropped as close as the secrets they keep; seeing a body without the face that goes with it feels voyeuristic and incomplete. Consciously or not, we search for what isn’t there and we want to know more.

In my ongoing series “A Bevy of Beauties” I began by using vintage bingo cards behind my backyard birds as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the "old birds" playing bingo in the local community hall of a Wednesday. As the series expands the birds have become unlikely portraits of ourselves.

Finding wit within longing, my work is underpinned by notions of self-possession, unrevealed secrets and the necessity of being content with our own solitude.