This is How I Art: A Jess Drury Mixtape

Playlist by Jess Drury

Today’s playlist comes from Jess Drury is an abstract expressionist painter who recently moved from Boston to New Orleans. I gave her a call on her birthday and we talked about her work.

Jess had spent her special day admirably, cooking and delivering a meal to the homeless project with a program called Community Kitchen. She planned to have a bit more birthday fun the next day, going to New Orlean’s Museum of Art with her fiancee Dave.

Jess is currently working toward a master’s degree in art education that has her drudging through realistic still-lifes and other precise, observational drawings. Since she started painting, she’s preferred the abstract, the purely emotional. Her work in college was obsessed with texture, layers and layers of one or two colors of paint. She was working out anxiety on the canvas, looking to connect to the viewer on an emotional plane.

Jess with her dog, Dakota Sparkles.

Jess says moving out of Boston and settling into New Orleans has loosened up her attitude and, correspondingly, her art. “I’ve kind of been able to exhale and shake off a lot of the tension I was carrying. Now my color choices and mark-making is less frantic, more deliberate.”When asked when her work was at its most frantic, Jess pointed to the six months before she went sober at age 22. “I really tried to push myself to explore the disease/disorder while I was in it. I’d feel so fucked up and my life was so fucked up… I just felt like ‘I need to get this out.”

But when we spoke, Jess had just finished a very different project: a children’s book. After illustrating a calendar as a gift for her brother last year, Jess took to illustration for children. The book Jess has just finished is a creepy, illustrated children’s alphabet, inspired in part by Edward Gorey’s. She’s starting to think about the world of self-publishing. “I love kids and I also love weird creepy shit. And kids, a lot of the time, also love weird creepy shit.”

Dig the mixtape Jess made you and peruse her art below.