Jesse Reno is a self taught, mixed media painter who has supported himself through his art for the last 12 years. In that time Jesse has created over 4000 paintings and his prices have risen 1000%. He has sold almost 90% of everything he has created. With no business background, Jesse has solely managed his career and managed to show in over 100 galleries.
Jesse has taught his techniques and ideas about painting extensively in the US, Canada, Australia, and Mexico. He only takes on work where he is free to create and be himself. Jesse has never pre-planned or conceptualized a painting in his entire career. He says to us today, “I could tell you a lot of stories…”
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Jesse, when did you first realize your interest in art?
I’ve been drawing since i could hold a pencil; I’ve always been interested in creating.
Carrie: How would you describe your current work?
Contemporary primitive: of the present, searching for understanding through introspection, a basic wisdom of things based on connection to one’s ideas, ideals and dreams rather then institutional, or technological knowledge.
Abstract narrative: a visual narrative derived from the interpretation of creations. It is made up of intuitive actions manifesting as abstract shapes, forms and emotions. I use a process without preconceived plans: just a thought, a feeling, following one after the other to become an idea. I change directions as forms emerge to find an idea free from judgement, something true in and of itself.
From this I create a world of personal myth, iconography, symbols and beings. I observe these creations as they emerge, noting their transitions and final meaning. Through this understanding we see the synchronicity of moments and coincidence in life. My work is a visual narrative where environment, being, and understanding all come from the interpretation of this visual diary: a story of potential, growth, and self destiny.
My latest works deal with the idea of fragments and connection: feeling rather than knowing. I choose instinct over logic to achieve desire rather than defined outcomes. The chaos of volcanos, the collapse of an avalanche, the weight of an anchor. The idea of buoyancy over balance. Some locks do not open with keys. This is a world where candy canes grow at the tops of mountains, freedom comes from belief and choice, and all things are connected.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
Painting is new to me, each time I create there is no formula only instances. I navigate random marks, colors, shapes, and interactions until I reach a point of inspiration. i follow this feeling/inspiration until it grows into something meaningful or I abandon it when it is no longer inspiring. Through this process I express my feeling through my marks, I find shapes and adjust them until they feel right. I remove sections and reconfigure my works all based on the basic feeling of “I like” or “don’t like” until I reach a point of seeing purpose in the work. A story unfolds from the changing compositions and forms.
I’m developing a language to express ideas beyond the restraints of spoken communication. It is free from the bounds of logic. It is a place where emotions and the true essence of our hearts can speak, free from our own judgments and free from the judgements of others. It is a choice to become intention over direction. I’m articulating random events to find alignment –> you will know who you are when you are free. This is the difference between knowing it when you see it and looking for it. By following the unknown we accept we do not know and follow and learn to articulate the new, adapt, experience, expand, and explore what is not known.
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
It is all tied together: one influences the other…in the end my art is a reflection of my thoughts, dreams, wishes, and challenges. My life is always feeding my creations.
Carrie: What are important strategies or choices you make that help support your creative process?
I always have a lot of work, this keeps me from ever doing things out of need. I feel it is much truer and clearer to make decisions from a point of freedom.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
I work on 10-15 paintings at a time on the floor. I place paintings on easels mainly to get perspective but I have walls of easels so I can look at all the paintings at once or work on large pieces up to 8x12ft.
I’m surrounded by about 300 of my own works as well as masks and other primitive sculptures I’ve collected. My two dogs are generally roaming or sleeping in the studio and the music never goes off..
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
I vandalize what ever is making me feel stuck. I don’t let paintings bully me. There is a real feeling of openness and peace when you destroy the things that are in your way.
Carrie: How do you think vulnerability affects artists/creatives?
It makes them scared to share their real feelings or their work. This is a real shame, I feel strength and connection come from sharing your vulnerabilities. The truth is always waiting so you might as well share it. Most people react very strongly to vulnerability. To not share that in your work is holding back real feeling and expression and holding us away from ourselves.. you will not know yourself and know one will really ever know you if you can’t share your vulnerability.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Music. I can always work with whatever I have but silence makes me crazy.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
My main inspiration comes from primitive sculptures, nature, animals, ideas about the universe (stars, cells, macro-micro connections in nature). Associative thinking, for example: antlers, tree branches, insect antennae, tv antennae, or roots, lungs, ventricles, tubes, ropes, how things are tangled together and what ties them, puppets cutting there own strings, Pinnochio – I like thinking about things in this manner.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
It is different for different people, the word itself should not be defined. I create to find something new. I work till I reach ideas beyond my own thinking, to me this is treasure. This is the point where you are creating something truly new and beyond yourself.
“I vandalize what ever is making me feel stuck. I don’t let paintings bully me.” (Click to Tweet)
Be Courageously Creative: Have you worked exclusively from a place of intuition and trust? Maybe it’s time to try it. Tell us about your experience below.
Additional Contact Info:
I have a public studio/gallery in Portland, Oregon with over 300 works on hand. I’m open most days 1-7pm. you can find me at – true measure gallery – 3022 e burnside – portland or 97214
Thank you Carrie for this wonderfully insightful interview!
Jesse is a wonderful being who lives his art and is true to this calling. He is such an inspiration to me!
I too believe that intuition is strong within and is just waiting for us to take that step into the unknown. Here’s a little story… I found myself offering to paint a native American ceremonial bowl, sight unseen. This bowl is called the “Mother Bowl” and my friend is its caretaker. The bowl was used by the women of a North Pacific tribe for their special gatherings. I had no concept of this bowl as I had only heard stories of it through my sisters. I had heard of the women of this tribe holding ceremony with this granite bowl for hundreds of years.
I began the process of listening as color, form and images appeared and disappeared as I worked. The painting was its own force…its own breath and I was breathing the painting to life as well as the painting breathing me. The motivation and expression was strong as if it was looking for voice. Many months later on completion of that painting I had the opportunity to be with the “Mother bowl”. The bowl was not only the same shape as was in the painting but it had the same distinguishing marks on it. “For each story that was told from generation to generation a mark was carved on the side”.
I believe we each have access to this creative mystery. By allowing ourselves to listen from our heart with no judgement and no outcome we can traverse these worlds of wonder and behold new creations from the uniqueness that we are…skipping through time and space.
What a story! Thank you for sharing and being part of this community Teresa. 🙂