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Painting her way toward perfection

Taylor graduate completes 500 paintings

Jessica Green (’04) challenged herself to create 500 paintings. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

Jessica Green (’04) challenged herself to create 500 paintings. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

By Elizabeth Hartmann | Echo

Five hundred paintings in four years? No problem.

Jessica Green (’04) started her post-college life with a successful career as an elementary art teacher. As an art education major, this seemed like a dream come true. But when she was laid off due to budget cuts, she decided to grow as an artist and challenged herself to create 500 paintings.

She reached her goal last August, and hasn’t stopped since.

When Green started at Taylor, she was not sure what to major in, but soon settled on art education. Although she had always been an artsy, crafty person, Green never really considered herself an artist.

“(Green) sees herself first and foremost, even today, as a teacher at heart even though she’s clearly a really gifted and accomplished artist,” said Rachel Smith, professor of art and Gilkison chair.

A look at the simple things in life. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

A look at the simple things in life. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

After seven years of teaching, Green decided to pick up painting on the side, teaching part-time. She was inspired by a blog post by Carol Marine, who suggested it would take 500 paintings before being constantly proud of your work.

In 2013, Green accepted the challenge. In August 2017, she completed it. Five hundred paintings. Four years.

Smith said Green’s artwork is colorful and fresh in a way that makes you want to smile, and Green’s paintings, which are mostly of simple everyday things, make you take notice of the mundane parts of the world.

As she fought to reach 500 paintings, Green was overflowing with thankfulness for all the support she got from friends, family and her husband, who cut surfaces, built frames and took pictures of the paintings.

“(Green) is a great example of someone who sets her mind to something she wants to do then forges a path to actually bring it about,” Smith said.

If you take the time to look, our surroundings are beautiful. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

If you take the time to look, our surroundings are beautiful. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

Such a feat takes immense dedication and discipline. Kathy Herrmann, department co-chair and assistant professor of art, said this kind of discipline is something modern culture often lacks.

Herrmann thinks students can be inspired by Green’s success.

Herrmann says students often find school overwhelming and mistakingly think it will get easier after college. However, Green’s life only got crazier when she started teaching and had three children of her own, yet she still worked hard and completed her goal of 500 paintings.

“To set a goal and to achieve it is a worthy thing,” Herrmann said.

 

See the beauty around us. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

See the beauty around us. (Photograph provided by Jessica Green)

Green encourages artists to take things one step at a time. She says working on a small project every day in any profession, including writing, painting, drawing or writing music is less intimidating and helps to build that “muscle.”

Green says sometimes the short project won’t turn out well, but can become a source of inspiration for a bigger project or a chance to learn from mistakes.

Not only has Green learned much and developed herself as an artist on this journey to 500 paintings and beyond, but she also set an example of how to be successfully creative while working and raising children. Smith thinks it reflects Green’s passion as a teacher, as everyone has creative capacities. The hard part is keeping that creativity alive as adults.

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