Cosmic Cyanotypes + Art is Essential with Jocelyn Mathewes, Imagemaker {Interview}

I keep working invisibly to reap very visible rewards.
— Jocelyn Mathewes
click to view fine art print in shop

click to view fine art print in shop

I have been in love with Jocelyn's work since I first came across it the year we were enrolled in a creative business development program a while back. Jocelyn's approach to image making feels like an adventure, and many of the images are based in the natural world with an element of wonder. Enjoy learning more about her process! If you want to stay up to date on her process, follow her Instagram account and check out her amazing prints on Society6 and etsy!

 

April: This quote of yours, "I keep working invisibly to reap very visible rewards" speaks to the behind-the-scene work that artists do that may never make it into the world. What does some of that "invisible" work look like for you?

Joceyln: One of the most important things I do is to create mental space for work to simmer in the background. A big part of this is to simply keep music, movies, books, and podcasts to a slow but intentional trickle -- there's so much out there to digest, and it's easy for me to have too many channels going and not leave room for my own thoughts. I really want to savor the things I'm taking in.

Leaving room for my own thoughts also means creating some tricky but firm boundaries around my social media, e-mail, and phone practices. I make an effort to make fidget/boredom/buffer time -- arriving early and not checking my phone while I wait, for instance, or taking extra time to go for an unplugged walk and let my mind wander. During stressful periods of life it can be exceptionally difficult to make these spaces, because we use a lot of mental energy to survive, communicate quickly, and maintain (like when a child is sick, or a financial crisis, or travel, or just an extremely busy season). 

For those difficult times, I often have to fight for some free play in my sketchbook, take quick breaks for deep breaths, and be even more rigorous about making sure I'm not letting the buzz of stimuli overtake me.

On a related and more concrete/logistical note, I recently wrote about all the invisible things that actually make my artmaking possible, like childcare, for instance. These structural/lifestyle things can be just as important and even more difficult to talk about because they touch on life circumstances that aren't entirely within everyone's control.

 

A: Where are you right now in your creative process? How would you describe the stages you go through in imagemaking, is there a particular flow or rhythm?

J: My output ebbs and flows, but my mind is always working. I enjoy a mixture of mediums (photographic, mixed media, and digital) and types of projects (personal work, client work, production work). At this moment, I'm trying to bring several old ideas of mine to the forefront so I can mull them over and either put them to bed or bring them to fruition. I've had a long spell where my creativity has been in the service of my commercial work and for other people; only recently have I had the energy, ability, and resources to return to some more personal making. I'm very grateful for client & commercial work -- it sustains my artmaking process financially and allows me to develop and hone useful skillsets that enhance my practice.

 

 

A: How would you describe your relationship with time and calendars?

J: I'm in love with calendars and structure. Charting, planning, and managing time has been something I've worked on since I was a teenager. I tend to be rather fretful and work best when I'm not under pressure, so taking time to plan things out ensures that I create my best work and really feel good while I'm making it. Utilizing calendars and being careful about my time ensures that I mange my anxiety and also that I can plan around the chaos of family life and my autoimmune disorder.

When that aspect of planning time & my calendar is not available to me, it can be either a nice break (as on a vacation), or a little worrisome (was I supposed to be doing something important for someone else?).

 

A: I know the moon, planets and constellations show up a lot in your cyanotypes - and I wonder how you would describe your connection with the theme of the night sky. And an even bigger question, how does art help you find your place (or anyone, for that matter) in the cosmos?

J: Some of my most brilliant early memories of the night sky were from beloved camping trips up north in Maine and New Hampshire. I grew up outside Boston, where you could still see a bit of the starscape, but not nearly the vast beauty that comes with a dark sky in the wilderness. Night is a time when things slow down, where I know my energy moves away from 

Art helps me to synthesize and understand. I solve problems through my client work and my personal work. It's the same as thinking, talking, or breathing, in a way. It puts my thoughts outside myself so I can reflect again and feel refreshed and renewed.

click to view fine art print in shop

click to view fine art print in shop

 

A: What other elements do you love to bring into your work? What practices help you explore new parts of yourself and nurture the creative spark?

J: I love handwork--embroidery, drawing, stitching, building, making. I don't always have the patience for it, but when I sit down and stitch or carefully manipulate something, I can tell that my focus has improved the piece.

And like many creatives, I'm always open to trying new techniques. Part of it is that you can get bored with a single process, which is why I bounce between so many different things, both digital and analog. I'm good at experimenting, and I really enjoy seeing if something will work. Frustration can come with that. I'm always working on learning a new technique (in this season, gum printing), and I regularly meander/put down my thoughts in a sketchbook every day, even when I don't get long stretches of studio time.

 

A: And finally, what is one question you've always wished someone would ask you in an interview?

J: This is tricky! I like these questions:

What is your personal definition of success?

What artistic project or achievement are you most proud of?

What challenges have you had to overcome in your artistic career?

 

A: Thank you Jocelyn for sharing your creative process and journey. I'm so excited to collaborate with you are your cosmic cyanotypes!  


jocelyn mathewes imagemaker

Jocelyn Mathewes is a fine artist working in mixed media and photography, living with her husband and three children Johnson City, Tennessee. She make solar-powered mixed-media fine art, and document genuine moments for real people, and share my creative journey with others. She writes about living in Appalachia and shares her creative process at www.jocelynmathewes.com.

 

Jocelyn is the featured artist on the cover of the 2018 New Moon Calendar/Journal! Now available for pre-order in the shop