Jessie Dunlop is a Canadian watercolour artist, with a background in museums. Dunlop’s work has been described as “magical and haunting”. It is peopled by characters and strange creatures, drawn from her imagination. Originally from England, she now calls the Okanagan Valley (Canada) home. She is inspired by vintage photographs, myths and memory.
An Interview with the Artist
Tell me about yourself
I’m a watercolour artist based in the Okanagan Valley (Canada). I paint characters and beasts in dreamlike surroundings. I love to paint on little paper postcards. If I can find time away from the little one, you can find me painting in my home studio, with a cup of tea, and an audiobook or radio drama in the background.
What are some words that describe your style of painting?
Haunting, magical, dreamlike.
How do you “work” as an artist?
Sometimes I will hold the sketchbook in my hands, and I will know exactly what I want to paint. Those days are few and far between though, and usually, I will turn to my collection of visual references to inspire and get the ideas moving.
My source materials are a treasure trove of ephemera, some torn from magazines, others are faded photographs of people I have never met. I have carried many of these pieces around for years, not quite sure why. These are the images I return to time and time again. If you look carefully, sometimes you can see the same figure re-appearing in sketches and paintings.
When did you start paining?
I have been painting for as long as I can remember, and art will always be a part of my life. Before having a baby, it was all I would do with my time; get home then paint, paint some more. I start to feel very sad and empty if I am not able to create something new. Now I paint in little pockets of time, between naps, after bedtime and in amongst the chaos.
What subjects do you paint?
I paint people, and beasts, with a narrative twist. Every painting has a person or an animal in; a character that I can base the beginnings of a story around. I don’t paint landscapes, to me they feel so empty. People and patterns are what fascinate me.
Vintage pictures speak to me. I love to find photos where the subjects stand in their beautiful old fashioned clothing, and stand staring, steadily at the camera. I don’t understand what it is or why. The images are unsettling for many people, yet I am still driven to paint them, and the eyes that just won’t look away.
Click below to watch an interview with Dunlop, as she discusses the themes and topics shown in her art.