Saskatchewan NAC

Artist of the Month

Jerry Jessop
Jerry Jessop

Jerry Jessop

Saskatchewan NAC is very pleased to have Buena Vista painter Jerry Jessop as a Featured Artist.

Jerry was born in 1947 in Ponteix, Saskatchewan. He began his university studies in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba, studying with Ivan Eyre and George Swinton, completing his Bachelor of Arts in 1970. Jerry came to Regina to complete his MFA at the University of Regina with Ted Godwin and Frank Nulf (1977).

Since serving as the City of Weyburn's “community artist” from 1970 to 1972, Jerry has held numerous art-related positions with school boards, universities, museums and galleries in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. A significant amount of time was spent in Moose Jaw, where Jerry worked with the Moose Jaw Art Museum (as Director/Curator), the Moose Jaw Heritage Society, and the Moose Jaw Arts Council. After a decade (1996-2006) in Kelowna BC as an art and Tai Chi Chuan instructor, Jerry returned to Saskatchewan.

Since he began painting, Jerry has been interested in the figure as well as landscape, and his works often combine the two. Admiring the use of colour of the Post Impressionists, Jerry has said, “I use colour in an intuitive way, imagining colour in the many tones of nature. In a somewhat automatic way of applying paint, I rely on randomness, spontaneity and accident to add to the viewers experience of the process in the work.” Marie Leduc, writing in Artichoke magazine in 1977, picked up on the Impressionist influence, “Jessop's paintings are not only of land and figure, but images that make us question how we see. The fleeting, broken, almost abstract method of painting that Jessop employs recalls the visual experimentations of the Impressionists.”

Jerry's work has been appeared in solo exhibitions in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and is in the collections of the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon), Saskatchewan Arts Board, University of Regina, Moose Jaw Art Museum, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, and others.

Jerry continues his art practice and teaches Tai Chi Chuan in Buena Vista, Saskatchewan, with his partner, painter Margaret Jessop.

Below are some examples of Jerry's work currently available for purchase through out NACmarket, and an interview with Jerry from September 2014.

NACmarket: Jerry Jessop

Gazing Gazing
by Jerry Jessop
Lounging Lady Lounging Lady
by Jerry Jessop
Tube Lounge Tube Lounge
by Jerry Jessop


How did you come to be an artist?

My high school graduation was coming up in a year or two and I had to decide on a career. I realized that Art was the subject of my greatest passion. I began drawing and painting in grade six at Yorkton, when my teacher, musician/poet, Glen Sorestad, encouraged me to draw. I took a few lessons on painting and entered the results to win at the annual art fair. Through high school I worked diligently on the yearbook and on drama sets for the school plays.

I chose the University of Manitoba for its reputable Fine Arts program, where students were encouraged to find their own way in art. My expectation of what art was changed as I began to  find my own lines, colours and shapes. Later on, I taught art and managed public art galleries to allow me to paint my own subject matter and make a living.

What inspires your art-making?

Throughout the four year program in Winnipeg, I was one of the only students to retain interest in the figure, which was of course the nude female form. I was encouraged to abstract the form into a new representation, which was loose, free and spontaneous -- after all, it was the 70s. Our school encouraged the plurality of understanding and being open to all styles of art, from realism to conceptual installation. I was encouraged to look at Paul Klee, Kandinski and the Futurists.

I found challenge in abstracting away from the representational figure into a world of large format paintings achieved through the process of automatic drawing. When I felt lost in the boredom of total non-objectivity, I always had a base to go back to -- the figure.

From the late 1980s, living in Kelowna B.C., to the present day in Buena Vista, Saskatchewan, I have painted the figure on the beach. The relaxation, and empty musing are uplifting to my spirit. The figure is familiar; although clothed, and allows me some space to explore techniques of my past art periods.

What artists, and others, have influenced you?

By the fourth year of my BFA in Winnipeg under my advisor and greatest influence, Ivan Eyre, I became more philosophical and began to see my art form in a somewhat surreal style, but highly influenced by the figure work I had done.
While taking my FA Masters degree in Regina, I was once again influenced by the organic work of Jack Sures and Art Mckay, as I was in earlier years of my art education. My thesis advisor, Ted Godwin directed me towards loving every stroke and exploring colour tone ranges. My paintings were now abstract, surreal and light in beautiful colour hues.

During the 25 years, that I worked as an art teacher or art gallery director/curator, I continued to paint. I produced as much as I would without a real paying job.

Who are some other Saskatchewan artists whose work you admire?

I greatly admire the earlier, exotic, organic large canvases of my adviser, Ted Godwin. The strength and visceral, thought-provoking content of the work of Art McKay and Jack Sures make them my favourites.

How would you describe your work?

My work has gone through many phases that have all centred on the figure. I like to think of my work as creating an exciting ever-changing journey in the mind of the viewer. The work is my compilation of experience in art and life, which has its own place in Post-Impressionism.

What are the best and the worst parts of being an artist?

The act of creating is in itself a spiritual necessity that cleanses and refreshes. My love of Tai Chi Chuan over the past 45 years has led me to appreciate the subtlety and directness of oriental art,  and it is this essence that is enhanced by the act of physically painting. The Taoist philosophy of yin and yang in nature has helped me see the cycles of change and process in my art.

Like other visual artists, I love to have my art seen by the public. The endless hours of work are not rewarded by the works sitting in a dark storage area. I have been fortunate to have exhibitions and sales of my work across Western Canada from 1970 to the present.

Art historian Marie Leduc inspired me and made me feel good about myself and my work, with a complimentary document on the creativity of my Nanaimo show. While living in Kelowna for 17 years, my agent was Jody Lafontaine, owner of Holiday Park Resort at Oyama and the owner of the largest art collection outside of the Mainland. Jody was extremely supportive of my work, as she bought several large paintings for her resort condos.

On the negative side, the large, unplaced inventory of my work is disheartening, as it now sits in crates and stacks. As I was away from Saskatchewan for twenty years, some of the most creative art of my career has not been seen or recognized here.

How has living in Saskatchewan, and the area around Buena Vista, shaped you as a artist?

My painting subject matter and my most pleasurable living locations evolve around the beach. When in public school in Yorkton, our family spent the summers at our cabin at Crooked Lake, and in Kelowna my wife Marge and I lived above Okanagan Lake for ten years. The peaceful, isolated environment is conducive to painting in a self directed way. I paint the everyday activity and environments of the beach in my own way, utilizing my past experience in painting techniques and exploration.

Jerry Jessop

  • Born: 1947. Ponteix, SK
  • Resides: Buena Vista, SK
  • Mediums: Acrylic

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