Jools Yasities is a multi media artist working with watercolour, acrylic, charcoal, ink, stitch and collage to create bold designs inspired by nature. Jools lives in Widnes with her youngest daughter, Natascha and her “amazing, patient, supportive and long-suffering husband, Jay”. Her other two children, Dominic and Hannah have flown the nest but I’m told still visit frequently for food! Her Folksy shop Art by Jools Yasities has been running for 6 months.
Here Jools tells us about paper aeroplanes, getting lost in her work and how she always stops to smell the flowers.
Tell us where it all began for you?
I’ve always drawn, painted and made things. As a little girl I was never without pencils, clay or crayons and one of my earliest memories is of folding the evening newspaper into a giant paper aeroplane. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t fly when I sat inside it, in fact I’m not sure I get that one even now.
Tell us about your work?
I work in all sorts of different media, but more recently I’ve been concentrating on painting. Watercolour is my first love, and I dabble with acrylics too. I never grow tired of the many varied and fabulous techniques that can be explored in painting, and my inspiration comes from anything and everything. I like to develop my observational drawings into ever so slightly abstracted and designed images. The best way I can explain this is that I draw so many studies of a subject, poppies or architecture for example, that it’s almost like learning the language of how they are constructed, then I use that to depict my own story.
What’s your favourite piece of work?
I produce a lot of work, so it’s really difficult to choose a favourite piece. I guess if I were to pick just one to put on my wall it would be this abstract floral painting in acrylic, which is strongly inspired by a 1950s retro look, that I really love
How do you know when a piece is done?
I usually have a good idea of what I want a finished piece to look like. Occasionally I’ll fret a bit over it, but putting it aside for a while will generally give me the space to become objective about it and make the decision. Less is more, as a rule. If I want to go in a different direction I’ll do a series of similar pieces, each with its own small developments and tag each one as a step in the journey. I guess you could call them individual sentences, all working together as a story.
Tell us about your work space?
Oh I’d love a beautiful light, airy studio, but in reality it’s nothing quite so romantic or bohemian. I work at an unfeasibly large desk in my living room (unless I’m painting outdoors of course). If I were to lock myself in a special room to work I would never see my family. This way they get to see the back of my head as I paint and hold the occasional conversation with me. I’m a horrendously messy worker, so there are frequent avalanches of stuff, and my carpet would shame Old Man Steptoe. I’ve learned to accept this over the years, but I do worry that I’ll eventually take it too far and become that crazy cat lady who answers the door and scares off the postman.
How do you keep your work unique?
My work is a result of a lifetime of experimentation, studying and development. I like to think that this is enough to keep it unique and create my own personal signature. There will always be outside influences that creep in to form a link to other artwork, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. People have commented that some of my paintings remind them of other designers or artists, which I take as a compliment. It’s good sometimes to know that comparisons can be made, because this shows me that people are looking and appreciating my position in the world of art. That may sound a little grand of me, but I firmly believe that everyone who creates something has a place in our culture and gives a little of themselves in each finished work.
Talk us through your making day
I don’t think I could ever be described as organised. Organised chaos maybe? If I get a result then I suppose I’ve managed to tame something or other. As for discipline, I guess you could call my compulsive drive and enthusiasm that. I usually begin my working day at around 6.30am, accompanied by mind blowing strong coffee and my materials all around me. Somehow in the blink of an eye it’s late evening and people are complaining that they’re hungry, or that I’m still in my pyjamas and we’ve got visitors coming. I get lost in my work so easily that it feels like cheating to call it discipline; it’s more of an obsession than anything else. If I were writing a CV I’d probably go with the disciplined thing though.
What three tools could you not live without?
Only three? Now that’s just outrageous. Looking round my desk just now I could name you fifty things that I simply must have to hand at all times, but if you really made me choose I think I’d have to go for a pencil, my paintbox and a brush.
What gets the creative juices flowing?
Annoyingly, and possibly unbelievably, I never run out of inspiration. My eldest daughter recently told someone, “My Mum stops to smell the flowers”. This is so true and possibly one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. I have a massive curiosity and spend every possible moment looking at things. I can be equally fired up by a flower, a landscape or a tatty old bit of wallpaper at the doctor’s surgery. Skies too, and beaches, rocks, gardens, water, sparkly things, the human form (this has to be way up there in the list of top amazing things in the world ever), and so on. Sometimes I just Google images of anything that springs to mind and spend hours enjoying the results. I keep sketchbooks and lists too, just in case I ever feel like a quick about turn and a change of subject.
Tell us about artists you are inspired by?
Oh so many. I am in awe of the Pre Raphaelites and the Flemish artists. Imagine being able to produce such amazing and influential work. I can only dream of it. I think there are always places we would aspire to be in our creative endeavors and the historic painting schools achieved so much to hand down to the likes of me. I also think we can be warmed and inspired by our peers, and despite the risk of sounding like a big old soft lump, I love being a part of the Folksy artist community. People like Janice Ashworth of Wellydog Gallery and Paul Bailey are encouraging and supportive, making me feel very privileged to be classed amongst them. I am very pro contemporary art and the people behind it.
What’s do you love most about being a maker?
I adore the freedom of creating things, it takes me out of the everyday world and into a special place that I’ve made. They are my personal additions to the world, whether they’re good or bad. These things never existed before I did them and I take immense pleasure from knowing that this is a little bit of me on a page. Since I started actually selling my work it’s always remarkable to me that people want to own it. I feel like I’ve added to their life in some small way, and I can’t really put into words how happy that makes me.
What would you say to any makers starting out?
I say go for it, always. Don’t be afraid of messing up, being criticised or not fitting in. Art and craft are about enjoyment and it doesn’t matter a jot if anyone likes what you produce. Enjoy the process, the mess, the mistakes and the learning. Express yourself, go crazy, laugh, cry and allow yourself to play like you did as a child. Your life will be so much richer for it.
Thanks to Jools for sharing her story. You can see more of her work in her Folksy shop.