Interview: TEHAN ART | Jessica Tehan
For starters, creation is a surge given to you by a force unknown; a voice that gives you determination; resolution to purse this passion inside of your mind and soul. Now, we have Ms. Tehan. What you’re about to witness is a display of preeminent work that is striking and exclusive to the eye. A style can distance itself amongst the “standard”, the connoisseur, and the so called virtuoso. Jessica Tehan has done just that; for us all.
L|T|M: How has the personal experience of life inspired you AND your art?
Tehan: Everything I do is mood-based, though it took me years to learn and understand that process. Many times the only outlet I had to use as a tool for understanding how to allow a bad/sad/angry mood pass, was to be creative. Once I let go of my fear of creating something sub-standard and concentrating on how to make myself love the art, I only then truly began to benefit completely from the therapy of its production. To just allow myself to ‘let go’ of inhibition and expectation and let the mood transform itself, there grew a greater love for creating more and more. Appreciating life and understanding how to move about the day in such a way where every part of my life gets satisfied is the key to being productive in all things, especially art. If I want to scratch the creative itch as I need see fit, I need to move about my responsibilities proactively, essentially earning the right to sit down and pen my thoughts through art or writing. Completing the tasks and daily responsibilities that are required of me as a mother to my four beautiful children, I am most gratified in settling down after each days work with pen in hand; realizing that I compromised nothing to be at my best.
When working through life and all it’s many faceted challenges, I feel profoundly lucky to have art as something that I have come to see as a living, breathing organism that resides within me. Making no adjustments to my creative routine, I shy away from no mood at this age, allowing visual documentation to occur at the stroke of each line, be it any range of mood that I am in. For too now, at nearly forty years of age, I realize that beauty can be found within each and every feeling that the human race can feel and be flowing through; from anger to joy and especially- the melancholy.
L|T|M: Besides visuals, what other creative approach(s) do you take and or use in
developing your art?
Tehan:It has been quite by accident that I came to know and love what it is that aids me so profusely in how to crack open creative potential day in and day out- time and time again. One of the single most brilliant ways to trigger that inspirational reaction is to get as far away from the city as possible. When I strip myself of all things man-made and allow myself to become infused by the vastness of nature and clean, untouched landscape; I flourish. Mountains for me were the beginning of that realisation and for many years they reigned supreme in the concept of cleaning out my smog-filled interior. But through the last decade, it has been the introduction of the desert that has reduced me to the finest levels of preparation when it came to composing my feelings through art. Visual
documentation can go on for days and still continue to please me for the simple fact that I could and would, stick to the goal of staying ‘creatively fit’. But when I go to the mountains and allow that cool green landscape and limitless blue sky to remove any city strained ache I have lingering, and push further into the desert… allowing myself to be stripped of every preconceived ache of the day, then I truly come alive. The desert takes me back to a level of pure nakedness, emotionally speaking. It reminds me of how human I am and how I need to always make sure that I use my time here wisely, that nothing is guaranteed and every day is a gift. To know that I am continually maintaining composure to stick to the commitment I made to be artistically active each day is the greatest gift I can give myself as not only an artist- but as a human being as well. Determination is the fertilization for emotional success.
That and… moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
L|T|M: In your view, the body is a work of art. How has the human body grappled your design?
Tehan: Funny you ask, even more entertaining that you use the word, ‘grapple’.
For many years I stifled my own progress by getting locked into the mindset that my work didn’t look ‘right’ in terms of realistic. I was discouraged for many years into a point of damn near non-activity with my work. I was consumed by the idea that because I couldn’t master realism, I would not even attempt to transcribe the human form through design as I lacked completely, the ability to do it justice. In my mid to late twenties I went through a massive emotional recall on everything I thought I ‘knew’ and was in many ways, born again. Born into a new understanding of how acceptance can rival the
darkest fear and even demolish the lack of self-esteem that had been pummeling my progress to the ground. At 24, becoming a mother for the first time introduced a love for life that I had not previously known or understood. Being responsible to my child and providing optimum emotional and physical care began to spread throughout my life in so many beautiful ways, I took pen up in hand and learned to love all I saw and felt as a means for what wanted to materialize without effort. The human body took on new form and instead of me trying to wrap perfect limbs around a composition I could accept as visually stunning, the way I felt itself- began to form limbs of its own perception, creating beauty among imperfection. Acceptance within understanding. Loving myself for feeling everything and letting go of what I had to, to make room for a healthier perspective.
The design mechanism began to ‘grapple’ my feelings and teach me more about who I am in my quest for life and its understanding.
L|T|M: If there’s a particular way to describe your approach to designing and creating, how could one do so?
Tehan: One word; extemporaneously.
The more I seemed to focus on how I thought my imagery should look, the more I felt disconnected to it. I began to distance myself from that expectation and found that I became more comfortable getting ‘in the mood’. What I mean by that is if I just allow
myself to opportunity to create, I can create. Waiting for anything specific or to think that inspiration needs to hit in order for me to work is not the case. Extemporaneous denotes that through no amount of preparation or conditioning, I can be artistic. Because my inspiration is fueled by ‘feelings’ I am able, as of course, I feel things every day. The best part of being creative without preconceived notions is that it has allowed my subconscious to often take the wheel with where the composition steers. I essentially allow my hand to form a dance with pen and paper and through the tune of an open mind; art is born. It has been difficult in the past for me to explain this process but like my early days when I scrutinized my lack of ability on how things are meant to look, in time I came to also believe that through placing dedicated measure on my own instincts, I’d learn to better my confidence and energize my ambition. I seek to please my own needs to thrive as an artist, to allow image after image to fuel the juggernaut of an even greater body of work that may yet long to exist from within me. You can’t imagine how throughout the years when my work was first becoming collected, it was prompting sales with little effort. The idea that someone would hang a visual representation of something I felt- in their home, was profoundly changing the way I viewed my work. I came to love all I produced, regardless of the interpretation I derived from any one piece. After all, in many ways, each piece is a facet of who I am, and when a little bit of me is collected as such- I am thrilled to my core.