Pivots, Paper, Painting and Plants

Not sleeping well the night before, I roll over and grab my phone where my calendar tells me "Jacqui (aka Jacqueline K. Calladine) for ACD at 1pm". I'm. So. Tired. But realize that hanging out in Jacqui's studio, listening to her speak in her lovely British accent will bring immediate calm with a creative kick-start even though we practice very different mediums of art. Plus, there's a very good chance a nice cup of tea will be involved. 

Crawling to my first cup of coffee at 9am, emails are answered, peer at the news through spread fingers over my face and do some cleaning. Throwing on a pair of jeans and black sweater (jumper?) with my magenta colored beanie pulled over my head and Mead notebook in hand; I drive over to Jacqui's studio.  

I've been to Jacqui's studio (which is an amazing space sitting just below her house) at least a handful of times in the past and each visit it's refreshed in some way; usually with new artwork on the wall or mantle above the fireplace and rearranging of furniture. With a door that opens to the garden there is lovely pale, bluish light that floods in through the space on overcast days, like today. 

Upon arriving – 1. She had the same idea when dressing that morning
2. She asks "Would you like a cup of tea?" Which my answer is, "Yes, please! Something calming." Once the tea (Lemon Ginger if you were wondering) is finished we make our way downstairs and the light is slightly different. Jacqui mentions that she's repainted the wall where her latest body of work is displayed, entitled "Roots".  

"Roots" by Jacqueline Calladine.

The coolest characteristics of her studio, other than her art, are the collection of vintage items: an old Swiss sewing machine she calls "Betsy", an analog camera and a thrifted chair that's been repainted. Her studio is not exclusively for one of the five senses, but for at least a few of them, I notice this while sipping my tea, listening to some music playing in the background and glance around at the big paintings on her gallery-style wall, unframed and hung with binder clips.  

"Betsy" the sewing machine, some drawings and tea.

We chat about art, art centers and the future. About how artists do not necessarily need to showcase their artwork in a proper gallery space in order to be justified as an artist, that having the freedom to showcase from Instagram or even someone’s garage can garner an appreciation for their work and also a following. The subject of the difference between marmalade and jam comes up as well (take note).

When I first met Jacqui, she created textile work using various stitches, plant-based dyes and paints (she still does), found pieces of cloth and clothing, but nowadays you'll mostly see her work on large pieces of thick paper or canvas. Her work, which includes a special kind of alchemy-based skilled in creating paints and dyes that she concocts herself, is a reflection of her relationship with Earth; gentle, kind and reciprocal.

The question I’ve wanted to ask her: What made you transition (pivot?) from textile work to abstract work on paper? 


“The big change is when I did a drawing class, an abstract drawing class at Kirkland Art Center with Michael Ottersen who’s a well known artist around here; he’s moved to Santa Fe.  I did that class three times and he was very good at tuning into what students needed to do next. The very first time I went to that class and I picked up a pencil and I had a small piece of paper, he immediately said to me, ‘No, your drawing hand is much bigger than that. You need big pieces of paper’,” Jacqui tells me. 

She laughs, “And I thought, nah, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about! I make small pieces of work, but when he said that and he gave me large pieces of paper - that completely changed the way I worked. Sometimes you need someone to give you that little kick!”

We then move onto questions that people really want to know the answers to – like…

Favorite season?

Coffee or tea?
She laughs, “You know this already, tea!”

Toast with marmalade.

Soundtrack for when you’re creating?

Favorite social media app?

Jacqueline Calladine is social.

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