Jessa Gilbert x Skida
Posted on 09 January 2020
Jessa Gilbert is an artist and backcountry guide based out of Nelson, British Columbia. The union of art and the outdoors is part of her everyday life. Jessa's paintings and drawings aim to celebrate play and exploration - and moments in the wild - as they emerge from her experiences in the backcountry. Her pieces explore the connectedness between all parts of adventure through the use of one single, continuous line, which creates the foundation of each piece.
"I guess I started when I was a kid - I grew up in a busy household of 3 brothers and painting/drawing was an escape for me."
How has your style developed over the years?
"I've always been curious about overlying lines, shapes, and color. It's been interesting to watch the artwork change from a predominantly figure-focused practices to an interest in landscape and exploration. I've always been quite athletic, but for whatever reason never fused my art and athletic background together until getting to British Columbia. My artwork started to shift from people to mountains without me really picking up on it. I remember looking at my paintings a year or two after moving to Vancouver and thinking 'huh, my palette is mostly blue and green and I've been painting mountains and oceans.'"
Can you elaborate on the idea behind your #getoutoftownvibe series and the process behind it?
"The #getoutoftownvibe series started as a way to document the weekend adventures I would get up to while I was working a 9-5 desk job in Vancouver. I was waiting on my Permanent Residency application to process, and wasn't sure if I was going to be deported from the country. My way of dealing with that uncertainty was to go all-in on adventures and try to see, experience, and document as much of Canada as I could. Drawing along the adventure also helped me slow down the process and really be present in the moment. Rather than firing off my phone at the top of a peak, I would take out my sketchbook, really look around, and take the time to draw something. It began as a curiosity to see what I would create, and has become a meditation on travel, adventure, and our place within landscape."
How would you describe your process of transferring a landscape you find on your travels in the backcountry to a piece of art? What elements of a scene are your eyes drawn to?
"It varies, I'd say. I focused a lot on layers of alpine peaks the last few years, but found myself drawn to flowing rivers this past summer. Looking back I can see they relate to the places I spend my free time - alpine hikes, river walks, mountain biking, etc. Overall, I like to consider how everything is connected and flows together - how are the ripples in a river similar to the wind pushing the clouds around, how the curves of the terrain may be similar with the outlines of the leaves on the trees. On a deeper level, these things are all connected - the mountains support the rivers, the water moves into the atmosphere, and around and around we go."
How do your pursuits of adventure and backcountry snowboarding influence your art?
"While I'm snowboarding, I find myself thinking about lines on my snowboard translating to lines on paper. I'm always considering how aesthetic my skintrack can be while touring, and I can't help myself from always looking at the shifting light, undulating terrain, and textural differences between trees and landscape. I love how color can evoke different feelings in a moment - how a blue cast sky feels different than a warm orange glow. It's surprisingly parallel at times, my art world and my backcountry split-boarding world. I'm constantly assessing the weather and terrain while I'm planning a day in the backcountry, and I'm curiously assessing different ways of making marks and evoking emotions in my paintings and drawings."
At Skida, we spend a lot of time curating careful color palettes that enrich the theme of our collections. What inspires your bold palettes?
"While in university, I was really interested in Josef Albers, who investigated colors and how their relationships/proximity to each other can affect how they are seen and experienced. In applying that to painting, you can evoke a slow, quiet mood or a fast, alert setting simply by adjusting the color palette. There's a lot of interesting color relationships to be found in nature, which inspired my half-hearted series on Instagram called 'Color Study'. It started as a way for me to try to shake up my color palette choices, and turned into a way to appreciate the natural beatury and color interplay within natural settings."
"Every piece starts the same - they all start with a single-line sketch, taking into consideration the space and the scale. One of the things I love most about murals is that you're creating artistic environments for people to experience rather than drawings for people to hold or look at on a wall. Once I get the sketch to where I like it, I try my best to recreate it in that space, while allowing for the creative process to lead the piece. I don't want my initial design to be so rigid that I can't adapt the mural to the needs of the space that I may not have considered until stepping up to the wall. Each piece is different, but I love the process of creative problem solving!"