Creator of the Month- Jessica Hannum

This month, we had the honor of engaging in a captivating conversation with Jessica Hannum from Winter Park, Florida. Her enchanting abstract creations exude inspiration and uplift the spirit. Join us as we delve into her incredible journey, exploring the stories and inspirations that shape her whimsical artistry.

Tell us about yourself and please share with us some early influences or experiences that sparked your interest in abstract painting, and how did they shape your artistic journey?

Thank you so much for including me in your blog! I am so excited to share the joy and love art can bring. Both of my parents were creative entrepreneurs and encouraged my love for creating and painting. I’ve dabbled in nearly every avenue of art, but I always found my way back to painting. My mother is an amazing painter. She is a natural. Every painting I create, I always share with her before in advance of release, because I know she will give me an honest critique. I took art classes as a kid with a local artist that my mom was good friends with. I was always hanging out in her studio when my parents were at work. I was using watercolors and learning how to do still life then. Later in life, I picked up a Nikon camera and became heavily obsessed with photography for a few years. I loved the effects I could create with light and movement. I then shifted to creating jewelry, where I started an Etsy business and created all kinds of unique accessories for several years. The focus then was all about healing, using earth’s natural stones and essential oils. At that time in my life, my husband and I were dealing with infertility. Beadwork was meditative and helped ease the stress of not being able to have a baby. After 4 years, we finally had success and I was able to have our now almost 5-year-old. When I had her, the labor and delivery was traumatic. I experienced terrible post-partum depression and anxiety. It was the scariest time of my life. My poor baby was colic, and just screamed all day and night for months. Then, the pandemic came only a few months after and just added to the horror I was living in. My brain was literally damaged from having the love of my life. I was so lost. I tried to hide my constant sadness and fear. I had a family member help babysit for a few days a week, which helped me get back on my feet. One of the days, I laid a canvas out in the yard and just poured a bunch of paint all over it. I did not even think twice about why I was painting; I just knew it was healing my brain. I moved the colors all over that canvas. It was freeing. It was me moving those dark clouds away. The painting was beautiful. I used blues and greens, like waves of the ocean and big mama trees that cover a forest. I finally felt love bursting through my body again. That love just spilled right over to my new baby. My brain was healing! I think abstract art has become such a huge part of my life because it’s freedom to me. I understand the technical parts, but I love knowing the canvas is an open space to pour out emotions. It’s intensely therapeutic and it is a gatekeeper to a unique sense of love.

Walk us through your creative process. How do you approach a blank canvas, and what inspires the vibrant colors and whimsical themes in your paintings?

My process is a mix of chaos and control. I usually start with mark making to loosen up and activate the canvas. I love using all kinds of crazy marks. I put my whole body into it. I should video that sometime. Haha! I like to gesso the canvas first to get a primer down, and I often tint the gesso. I try not to use too many colors, but I am mega drawn to the vibrant ones! I absolutely love mixing my own color palette. It is so rewarding when the colors harmonize. Truly fun! I am often pressed for time, so color mixing is done way in advance. I keep a journal of colors in a sketchbook. Makes it easier to dive in. That’s one reason I love painting in acrylic paint…it dries fast and I can move onto the next layer. I love using oil sticks after applying acrylic paint. They take forever to dry, but they add a really awesome texture and I oddly like the smell of them! They’re also highly pigmented another bonus!

When you begin a new painting what inspires these themes and how do you decide on the color palette for each piece? Are there specific sources of inspiration you regularly turn to?

I’m deeply inspired by color theory. The psychological effect color has on the brain. It’s very interesting how the pairing of some colors can change a mood. After going through several dark times in my life, the colors wake my soul to happiness and love. I have many things I use for inspiration. I love listening to podcasts about artists and their techniques. Visually, I am constantly looking at interior design work and gaining inspiration from textiles and textures. I have a ton of coffee table books from my favorite artists too. One is Joan Mitchell. I was fortunate to travel to Paris to see her work in person and I started crying. It was unreal to observe.

Do you have a mentor that has been influential in your career as an artist? 

My mentor is my mom. She has always said, “never give up!” She is my biggest fan and I’m so grateful to have her love and honesty. 

Do you have a favorite piece among your creations? If so, what makes it special to you, and does it hold a particular significance in your artistic career?

My favorite painting is the first one I created because it started my life again and the next one I’m going to make, because it’s symbolic of my urge to keep going and keep creating.

As a successful abstract painter, what advice do you have for aspiring artists looking to develop their own unique voice and style in the art world?

Become obsessed, like a healthy addiction. Never stop learning. Use every tool and try every medium! Discover what makes your soul deeply feel that spark that wakes you up at 4 and 5am to dive into the paint before your family wakes up! 🙂 If you love to paint, become the best painter YOU can be. Do it for               

YOURSELF. Don’t feel like just because you are an artist, you have to develop your own unique style. That can actually pigeon hole you into thinking you’re not good enough or capable. That can really lock you up. Just paint!   

What is your signature quote?

“The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” —Fabienne Fredrickson

 “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.” —Coco Chanel

 “A painting is not part of me. Because when I paint, I am not aware of myself… It is part of something else.” —Joan Mitchell





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