Jessica Fields

Painting with a palette knife

<em>Complimentary Sandwich</em>, oil with cold wax on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.
Complimentary Sandwich, oil with cold wax on canvas, 20 x 24 inches.

As a student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Jessica Fields began mixing turpentine and beeswax to create brighter, thicker paints. “I was going through a phase of obsessing over the abstract expressionists and how much paint they put on a canvas, and how delicious that was,” she says. Since then, she has continued her experiments with the medium, taking a palette knife to her canvases to create colorful, impasto landscapes. “I was obsessed with bright colors and abundance,” she explains. “I wanted lots of everything—lots of color and lots of paint, and surface texture.”

  • Secret Holiday, oil and cold wax on canvas, 6 x 8 inches.

One of Fields’s early inspirations was Willem de Kooning, who produced a number of abstract colorist paintings while teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1948. Fields lives in Greenville, South Carolina, about an hour and a half south of the old Black Mountain campus, and the mountains near her home have caused her landscape compositions to become “much more angular,” she says. “I didn’t plan on changing my painting style that much, but when you’re living in the mountains, it just starts to affect you.” Fields’s works often feature layers of blue and orange (colors notably uncharacteristic of the South Carolina mountains), which she uses for their pleasing visual effect. “Color theory is so nerdy, and I love it,” she says. “I have several color wheels up in my studio, and I’m just fascinated by it.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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