Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Reeves.
Jason, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I grew up drawing – a lot. My 1st-grade teacher used to call me ‘Quickdraw’ because I would rush through my work so that I could whip out a piece of paper to begin drawing and doodling. I didn’t really start studying art until high school. I got cut from the basketball team freshman year and took an art class instead. It seems to have worked out. Those high school classes are when I first began thinking about a career in the arts. I really developed a skill and passion for painting in those classes, and after I graduated, I decided to attend ASU and major in Art Education, keeping my emphasis on painting.
I picked Art Education for three reasons. First, I have enjoyed sharing my love of art and fostering an appreciation of art in others. Second, education seemed like a good way to earn a steady paycheck with an art degree. And lastly, I enjoy having summers off. At ASU, I earned the Herberger scholarship for Art Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2011.
In 2012, I was offered a job to teach high school ceramics in Gilbert. At the time, I had only ever taken one Ceramics class. I’ll tell you, one way to get really good at a new skill is to have to teach it to 100 or so high schoolers the next week. That first year of teaching, I worked long hours before and after school to learn the skills necessary to adequately and confidently teach Ceramics. It was a rough, trial-by-fire type of year, but it taught me where students will struggle and how better to relate to them as they learn. Even when having to work that hard to understand something new, I still enjoyed teaching and sharing a passion for art with my students.
Seven years later and I am still at Campo Verde High School, still teaching Ceramics, and now serving as the Fine Arts department head. Every year I have worked hard to learn more and more so that I can create better quality work, but also so that I can help my students create more high-quality work.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Lately, I would consider myself a potter that paints when I can. Since I started teaching it, I really fell in love with the tactile quality of clay. I enjoy the functionality that ceramic work can provide. I create a lot of mugs and bowls and will occasionally sell those at craft fairs or art fairs locally. In the last couple of years, I have worked to improve my skill on the potter’s wheel so that I can create larger scale vases and forms.
I try to create forms that are lightweight, and I like exploring the various qualities that glazes, slips, stains, and underglazes can provide to a finished work. I feel this is an opportunity to let my painter side come out in ceramics.
When I paint, I enjoy painting portraits. It provides opportunities to improve and practice skills as a painter but also forces me to work on anatomy and likeness of the person. I had a life drawing teacher in college that explained it best. He said, “When you draw people, they’ll let you know if it doesn’t look like them. You get immediate, honest feedback and that forces you to continue to work on it.”
My paintings generally have an open, quick brush stroke. At the beginning of a painting, I try to work quickly to capture the gesturative feel of a person or pose. Painting quickly and loosely like this makes the paintings feel alive to me like they have a sense of movement or energy to them. Layering colors quickly creates a rich sense of vibrancy that I enjoy that I can refine with additional layers of paint as the work develops.
When people see my work, I hope they can appreciate it as an attempted solution to a challenge I gave myself. Anytime I start an artwork, I have a goal in mind, something that I am working to improve upon. I feel each artwork is a next-step in that continuous process of learning.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
If you enjoy what you are making and feel that you are challenging yourself to learn something new, you are successful. There is always more to learn, skills that can be honed, or techniques to be improved. As long as you never stop learning, you will be successful – whether that is as a professional selling works or as a hobbyist that is creating for their own enjoyment.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The best way to see artwork is to follow the Campo Verde Art department on Instagram @campoverdeart. This is a great resource that the teachers at our school use to show off student work from Ceramics, Digital Photography, Drawing, and Painting. Our students are extremely talented, and it is great to be able to show them off. Occasionally, we may even sneak a couple of staff artworks into the feed.
If people would like to support student artwork, Campo Verde can always use donations. These can be monetary or even equipment and materials. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com if you’d like to make a donation.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @campoverdeart
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