Vicksburg artist has a deep, emotional connection to her art

Published 11:29 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jean Blue has worked with different mediums throughout the years, but her passion for art remains the same.

“I’m all over the board as far as style in a way,” Blue said.

She enjoys abstract painting, but right now she is creating a lot of mixed media pieces.

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“For the past year, I have been playing with photocopy over old family photos and reinventing the family making them quite different from my family,” Blue said. “Just because Southerners tell stories.”

In this style of art, the ink is transferred from the photocopy to the surface. Once she makes the transfer, she uses paint and collage work to finish the artistic piece.

A workshop on transfers gave her the idea to start working with photocopy. Blue has been focusing on working with old photocopy for the past year to create something new from something old.

“I have lots of different photos and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to make these into different people and tell a different story about them,’” Blue said.

In some pieces, she uses yupo paper, which doesn’t absorb the paint and allows it to pool and make different shapes. Other times she uses canvas or boards.

Colors interest her and heavily inform her pieces, and it becomes clear when the colors make the desired visual combination.

“When I know that a painting is going to work is when a couple colors come together and just meet in a certain area (of the canvas),” Blue said.

Sometimes staring at all the white space on a canvas can be intimidating, but music helps inspire her to create.

“I almost always have a title or a fairly specific idea or message I want to get across,” Blue said. “The decisions I’m making have to support that, the colors I select, the way the lines go down, need to help to develop whatever that theme, that idea is.”

Blue typically completes a piece in a day or two because of the forethought she puts into the process.

“It has been percolating, marinating in my head for a while before I sit down to do it,” Blue said.

Other times she works in stages, especially with yupo paper, to wait for the paint to dry. During the wait, she’ll go to another piece and start working there.

She does become attached to some of her pieces, but because it is her profession, it is par for the course to continually let them go.

“Newer pieces are always a little bit harder to let go, but that’s one of the reasons I paint so that other people can, not for monetary reasons necessarily, but it’s a high compliment when somebody connects with your piece and wants to buy it,” Blue said.

There are many facets of being an artist Blue loves, but the main act of creating is expression, which can be found in other artistic endeavors.

“I guess just being able to express something that you can’t do in any other way. I’d love to be a musician, but I’m not, because I think that’s a wonderful form of expression but mine is visual,” Blue said.

While expressing herself as an artist is good for her, she also likes making the viewer see something new.

“I think, too, to make people think and to see things in a different way. It may not be the message that I have in mind. It motivates them to go a little bit deeper,” she said. “I think there is a lot of satisfaction in that.”

Blue always wanted to be an artist. She started drawing and painting as a child and would make her own paper doll clothes and color as her passion grew.

Growing up in Oxford allowed her to take private lessons from a professor when she was in junior high.

“There was no question about what I would major in,” Blue said. “I got a good foundation in art at The W.”

She graduated from Mississippi University for Women with a bachelor’s in fine arts and later went back to school to get elementary through high school teacher certification. For years, Blue taught art in Vicksburg.

She also spent some time working at a flower shop. Though it was never something Blue thought she’d do, it did continue on the artistic track her career has followed. Now, in addition to being an artist, she works at the Attic Gallery, 1101 Washington St. Blue almost exclusively sells her pieces at the Attic Gallery.

“There are some outstanding artists here that I can feed off of being in The Attic Gallery and seeing how others artists have progressed. Knowing their journey has been real helpful, and just being around art is so energizing,” Blue said, calling Vicksburg’s art community nurturing.

Twenty years ago, Blue said she had painted a lot of Vicksburg scenes including the Old Court House and street sights. Needing to grow as an artist, Blue’s style has changed a bit since then.

“Artists move on,” Blue said. “You don’t stay in that box.”

For years, Blue said she worked on larger size abstracts, which were very personal to her and stick in her mind more. Even though the purchaser might see something different than the artist, she felt a deep connection with the pieces.

“They’re emotional,” Blue said.

In fact, recently Blue was thinking about how much she liked the abstract work she has done and plans to revisit the style soon on a smaller scale.

In addition to the gallery and actively creating art, Blue is a member of First Presbyterian Church and is the Firehouse Chairman of the Vicksburg Art Association.