My Story

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Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 10 – Tale of Two Lives


Jackie Medow-Jacobson


The artists life. 


The artists life. What’s the artists life like, with a family and friends? Mornings were to get my three kids off to school. And one day a week I drove to piano lessons. Then there were the denists, doctors, orthodontists, groceries etc. Some days I’d volunteer at the art department of the high school. 

Back to the Artists Life 

The next part of the day I was off to the studio, where I spent too many happy hours. Some days I would get lost in my painting and miss getting home in time for the family’s dinner. Dinner was usually prepared and ready, but sometimes I wasn’t ready to get back home. The studio was my sanity. And that’s the best part of the artists life. Of course, this part of my artists life was supported by my “sugar-daddy.”  Yes Al helped me with all of my art life expenses. Therefore those are the expenses that I couldn’t cover from sales of my art. 
And then there was my social life. We were friendly with two couples who lived in our area. One couple was extremely wealthy and did nothing all day. Their drug habit took up most nights. But their lives came to life on the weekends. The other couple worked as women’s clothing reps. They sold high end and very high fashioned clothing. 
Now the clothing couple felt that I definitely needed their help. They didn’t approve of one thing that I owned. So they were my fashion gurus. They selected my clothing and often gave me samples to add to my wardrobe. In other words, on weekends I was dressed by my friends.  

Let’s talk about my regular wardrobe.


My wardrobe basically consisted of jeans and tennis shoes. The majority of my artists life wardrobe was embellished with oil paints. 
Well, except for my weekend, ”go out for dinner with friends’ choice of clothes”; none of which I chose. All were chosen for me
Then there was my weekday makeup and jewelry.
I wore none except for my wedding ring.
But on the weekend I tried to follow my glamorous sister’s guidance. Makeup done by the Chicago area makeup artist for the models, Marilyn Miglin Studios. Skin, lips and eyes by Miglin. Eyes were the most fashionable false eyelashes made for both top and bottom lids. 
Yes I was a mannequin who socialized every weekend with her fancy friends. We frequented the finest restaurants in Chicago, mostly Italian and French. The artists life socially was not really me. That woman could fit into any Neiman Marcus display window. 

And then came the evening that definitely did me in. 

Here’s the details of the evening. We drove down to Michigan Avenue. Our car was given to the doorman and we climbed the stairs to the most elegant intimate French restaurant in Chicago. We were seated in this candlelit, quiet, very quiet little space. It was dark by normal standards, so dark that I was having a really hard time reading the appetIzer menu. After ordering our cocktails I heard Gloria say ”just bring us the left hand page.”
For a moment I thought I heard her wrong, so I said, Gloria did you just order the left hand page of appetizers? Yes she said. There were about 12 or 15 appetizers on that page. Quietly I asked “Why would you have done that?” Her answer, “how will we know how they all taste if we don’t try them?” I sat quietly for a moment, swallowed hard and realized I was lost. REALLY Lost!
I stood up and said, “I can’t do this anymore. And I started peeling off my eyelashes, then I took off the jewelry, one ring at a time. I removed the very uncomfortable fashionable jacket, and off came the necklace and those perfect bracelets. I turned to Al and said I don’t know who I am. Jackie is stuck between their world and reality and this is crazy. I have to leave and I am now in search of Jackie. She’s somewhere in here I know, as I tapped on my chest and said…. 

I can’t play this game of let’s pretend for one more minute.

My announcement was that I love all of you, but our values do not blend with one another’s values. I have to leave. I’ll take a taxi home. I’m going on a search for Jackie. 
That was the last time that I wore makeup, fancy clothes, high heels and the rest of the costume. No more dress-up for 10 years. Oh and I gave up wine and French food too.
What did I do next? Kismet took care of that.


My inspirations life
Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.


Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 9 – Belly Dancer


The Model is a Belly Dancer


This story is another about drawing from the model. The model was a belly dancer. I’m back with my art career, and all distractions are in the rear view mirror. And I’m drawing or painting at least 5 days a week. 
So I’ve reunited with many of my artist friends. I’ve put out the word that if someone is hiring a new model, I’m really interested.

I must tell you about hiring models


With so many art schools, art groups and artists in the Chicago area, there aren’t many models doing the circuit. After a while it does get really boring, drawing and painting the same model week after week. 
The model who I remember vividly is a guy who posed in costume. I had him all through art school. His costume was Napoleon Bonaparte. I know you don’t need to see one of my drawings. Your imagination is absolutely correct. Weird. Very weird. And there were many weirdos among the stable of artist models. But this guy looked like Napoleon. 
So today I’m going to tell you about my favorite drawing of an artist model. My friend phoned and said that she has found a new model and has hired her for the next week. Would I like to draw with her and share the model fee? She’s hired a belly dancer, who was new at modeling. The arrangements my friend made with this model is that it would be one pose for the three hour session. 
Of all of the models in the Chicago circuit, there were many dancers but none were belly dancers. I was absolutely excited and couldn’t wait til the next Wednesday session. 

Wednesday arrived and I drove off to the suburb where my friend lived.


Her studio was in the 4rd floor loft. I arrived to find a note on the door, “We’re in the studio, Just come up“ This trip meant 3 flights of stairs with my heavy leather portfolio, drawing board and my favorite Oak Tag Manila paper. I actually had to stop at the third floor for a breath.
The door to the 4th floor loft was closed, but as I opened it I could hear the music, see my friend and the easel she had set up for me. Now from the bathroom where she had changed into her belly dancing skirt and top, came the belly dancer model.
Her skirt was on just below her navel, her breasts hardly fit in her top, her hair piled high on her head. She may have been a belly dancer, but she weighed somewhere between 350 and 400 pounds. Yes she had a belly, a very big belly. 
This surprise model could not have happened in the same month as the last guy that I drew, but it was in the same month. OK what should I do? Leave was one option, but I agreed to pay half the model fee. So I stayed. We spent at least 20 minutes trying to come up with a pose. 
The model said she had no problem standing and we agreed to make it just a two hour session, not the usual 3 hours. That meant 2- 20 minute poses with 2-10 minute breaks, each hour.


I did not draw in the first 20 minutes. It took me 20 minutes to setup my easel, side table, and attaching paper to drawing board. I used my favorite oak tag clipped to the board in landscape format, meaning 36” wide by 24” high. and clipped a second piece to a second board. And then I walked all around the model looking for the perfect view for my drawing. 
I picked my spot, moved my easel and stuff, and was ready to draw after her first break. The drawing began with her navel at the top of the page and drew just down to her knee (skirt included) Then I clipped the second piece of paper to the first and drew up from the navel to her neck.

At the break the model came over to see what I drew.

She paused, looked at the two pieces of paper clipped together and asked “couldn’t you get all of me on the two pieces?” I was excited to answer, wait until you see the rest. She went back to her pose and I took out a third piece of paper and drew in her legs and feet. I really loved her ankles and toes. And I must say I did a great job on her big toe. Another break and then another piece of paper. And now for the chin to the top of her head. She really had a pretty face and I became fascinated with all of the curves I’d been drawing. Her mouth had beautiful curves, her eyes were really curved and pretty, and her belly the most beautiful of all the curves
I did the drawing with a soft charcoal pencil, which meant for her hair and for her skirt, that I could blend the charcoal. Whereas the rest of the drawing was mostly lines of different weight. 
In the end the piece was now 96” tall x 36” wide. I think it was really a masterpiece if I must say so myself. And the model thought so too. I titled it Curves. 

Now there were my children and this drawing.


I had the four pieces framed individually in a narrow black moulding and hung them on the dining area wall. My chair at the table faced that wall. My three children sat at the side of the table and hated that they had to look at her through every meal of 5 years. But of course they were embarrassed that there were naked people on many walls of our house. 
It was difficult growing up with a Mom who was an artist. Their friends, on the other hand, thought it was cool. 

Well there you have it, Two of my favorite artists model stories.


No more about model stories. You now know what it’s like to hire models. Onward to some interesting parts of this art career.

10 Famous Belly Dancers


My Painting of Celebrities



Effective next story, I’m moving the schedule to every other Friday. I’m apologizing to you for the change, but I’m actually too busy painting, website upgrade and story writing. So I’m slowing down and so is my publishing schedule. See you with the next story in two weeks.

Thanks Jackie

Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.

Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 8 – Drawing with Illustrators

Photo -JACKIE – 1972

Life Figure Drawing

Artists Model


As good fortune would have it, weeks after I closed Botany House I got a phone call from my art school life figure drawing instructor. He knew that I loved to do life figure drawing from an artists model. 
George said that they have formed a group of Chicago area illustrators who worked for local newspapers and ad agencies. He told me that they meet every Thursday evening, 5 to 8 pm, at his downtown Chicago studio. He was wondering if I’d be interested in joining them. And actually after the session, they all go out for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. 
What a great way of getting back to my art career and to good Greek food. George is Greek so the food has to be good. And surrounded by professional illustrators would definitely be inspiring. Drawing from the artists model is my favorite weekly exercise.  
The following Thursday I packed my large black leather portfolio with a stack of 24×36” oak tag manilla colored papers. That color and size was always my favorite. Sturdy in body it didn’t wrinkle and stayed flat against the backboard I used to clip the paper onto. Of course I had other pads of paper but I loved the 24×36” size. My favorite drawing tools were charcoal pencils. which danced and sang on the smooth manila color paper. Occasionally I used very thin black ink pens. 
oak tag drawing paper
I arrived about a half hour late, heavy traffic from the suburbs to downtown Chicago. Then it took time to find parking. I trekked up the narrow creaky staircase with my large and very heavy portfolio in hand. I opened the door to the second floor studio where there were about 10 men, yes only men, seated and busily drawing from the model.

The Model

The model was on a model stand in the corner of the room, and everyone formed a semi-circle around him. As I walked around the room to find an open space and easel to set up for my drawing area, I noticed that not one of the artist’s drawings included the model’s penis. It was as if the model came without one. Amazing, these were professional illustrators, who were very used to details.
The model was a male, black man, nude with the longest penis I had ever seen. Now understand we had plenty of nude male models all through my art school years. So when I say the longest penis that I have ever seen, I have seen and drawn many and this was the longest!
So I set up my 24×36” tall paper and started at the top with the model’s navel. I decided to go to mid-thigh and to do a portrait of the part of the anatomy that none of these guys could see. I made this drawing extremely detailed since it was a closeup “Portrait of a Penis” my title. On the 10 minute break I continued to add details to my drawing, since I arrived late. Remember this was a life sized or larger than life drawing.
As the guys took their break, word got out to take a look at my drawing. They’d stretch, yawn and wander near the windows behind me to see what I was doing. After the break they returned to their spots and continued on what was this long one hour pose, with two ten minute breaks. 
As is customary in a long drawing pose, you would walk up closer to the model to see details that are hard to observe from a distance. Those were usually details in the face, but not in this case. And so I did walk up close to observe veins, hair etc that I chose to include in this once in my art career drawing. On completion I think it was one of my finest drawings ever. But most of all it was a statement to these guys who were there to draw, but obviously intimidated.
As for me it was how I introduced myself to my new found art friends. We ultimately did become art buddies and I can report that they did include all parts of the anatomy in their drawings after they took their break and saw my drawing. It’s a fun memory. I actually can’t share the drawing because it was sold to a silver and goldsmith artist who loved the scale I chose for this portrait. Goldsmiths work on tiny detailed pieces. 
This could have been another piece in the “Erotica” series, but I didn’t repeat the moment or that kind of portrait again. I really prefer drawing faces. It was a fun moment in time in this lengthy art career.


The Art of Modeling


Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.

Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 7 – Botany House



Al Collected Bromeliads


About Al’s Hobby

My pal Al had a great greenhouse and he specialized in bromeliads. His plant collection of bromeliads was world class. Al learned all that he knew about this family of plants from the man who discovered them in Costa Rica.
Al met Mulford Foster on one of his business trips to Florida. Mulford brought back live plants from Costa Rica and recorded them with the Smithsonian. The two men became good friends, Foster in his very late 80’s and Al in his mid 40’s. 
Al’s territory was national but somehow he kept flying off to Ocala Florida where Foster “father of Bromeliads” recreated a rain forest on his property which was filled with the original plant species he discovered. Al would come home to Chicago, suitcase in hand filled with gift plants from Foster, which were wrapped in newspaper and slightly damp. The bromeliads got potted up, put out on our patio and neighbors and friends would buy every single one.

Magazine Feature

Word got out about Al’s collection when Better Homes and Gardens was starting a new magazine. They approached him for an article and an introduction to his mentor. 


Well it wound up that they photographed and featured me in Al’s greenhouse with his incredible bromeliads. Those are the plants that were my models for my Northwestern University Library art show.
On a trip to Florida Al had a brainstorm. His brilliant idea was that in the center of Northbrook Illinois, the Chicago suburb where we lived, was a wonderful old historic house that was for rent. Al’s idea was to rent the house and open a plant shop on the first floor. And we could use the second floor for art studios, where my studio partners and I would all paint and sell our art and be a wonderful artistic attraction. We submitted our idea along with a rental application.  Al flew off to Florida and ordered $3000 worth of bromeliads from several growers.
Yes you guessed right. The city would not approve our rental. But of course the plants were already shipped. And we actually had incorporated the new business which we called Botany House. Great name, no house. 
So Al rented a warehouse in a small industrial park. Since he was the family bread-winner he wasn’t ready to quit his job, so I got elected to get his little business started and he would takeover when it was up and running.



I called on some of my art buddies, one who photographed the plants, and one who designed posters and handouts. They created a mailer to send to all florists in the city of Chicago and within a month I had a customer base and an active business. My staff consisted of a 17 year old, one of our sons friends. After school, he did all of the potting, plant care, and preparation for shipping the next days orders. My father now in his 70’s did all of the order deliveries by truck. I had an assistant who shared the office with me and my Dad. 

Botany House was an immediate success.


No wholesaler in Chicago carried bromeliads. We were so busy that we had to start importing from Holland. Our first order arrived in time for Valentines Day. The airline unloaded our shipment at OHare airport and left the cases out on the runway in early February. Yes you’ve got it right…the entire shipment froze on that runway, and we lost 90% of our Valentines plant orders. Disaster!
Meanwhile I had not been in my studio for months. Galleries were calling wanting some of my artwork and there I was,  running a plant business. My studio partners were asking when I was going to return and I began to wonder if success would end my art career.
In March I asked Al to quit his job and takeover Botany House. He said he would do that at the end of his season. I bought his story, mostly because Al was a very good salesman.

I ordered plants from Hawaii for Mothers Day and was hopeful that soon I would return to making art. The Mothers Day plants arrived in mid April. The plants looked beautiful until the next morning. They were shipped damp, and they all got fungus from the darkness and dampness.

The next morning I arrived at the warehouse and totally black dead plants. 

After I finished screaming and crying, I phoned Al in Florida, and told him that by the time he returned home, the business would be dissolved. Yes dissolved, ended, completed…done.  Next I phoned our lawyer to immediately start that process, and I phoned a friend who ran a large factory. Then I drove all of the remaining plants that were alive and healthy and sold them off at cost to his 100’s of factory employees. I really meant DONE!
I did a warehouse sale of the office furniture and equipment and Botany House was now history. What remains to this day are a few beautiful handouts and a great magazine article. 
Another one year chapter in the adventures of my life has ended. And my goal was to get back to making art.
Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.


Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 6 – Evanston Art Fair


Art Center Evanston IL

Do You Volunteer?


Evanston Art Festival


I was asked to join a group of volunteers to address envelopes. In other words for the following years Evanston Art Festival. Of course I said yes. Nothing hard about addressing envelopes. Moreover, I can print nicely. I arrived to find this very corporate looking group of people seated and dressed in business attire. However they were not exactly who I thought of as artists. I was seated at a long conference table sounding very businessey. The group talked about raising money and the usual cost of the annual event. Above all who would do what and who will head up committees.
I never raised my hand, never asked a question, and never answered any questions. Where were the envelopes that were to be addressed? At the end of the evening I was elected co-chairman of this art festival. In conclusion to this day, I don’t know how they knew I was in the room. And for sure I don’t know how I wound up co-chairman.
And last but definitely not least. I never did get to address envelopes!

My project was titled Fund Development.


Development literally means run around and plead for money from local big businesses. I was told it’s about building relationships that will make those fundraising activities sustainable. Fund development for an art festival involves strategic targeting of prospective donors. In other words clear and impactful communications, and strong internal structures that support philanthropy. Yikes that’s definitely not artistic

The Art Festival Phyical Layout


My other project was to do the physical layout of the festival. The property is right on Lake Michigan, so my plan was for large sculptures, conceptual art, and ceramics to be displayed outdoors. I even used the beach for modern interpretive dance. However the outdoor property would also have the food vendors and music. 
For the first time in the art festival history- all visual art would be indoors with a small 3 piece classical music group. I was quoted in the Chicago Tribune that “Visual Art-Drawings and Paintings deserve the respect that an indoor exhibition provides.”
(Remember please that I display and sell my visual art prints at an outdoor street fair in Palm Desert California)
The art festival is in early August on the grounds of the historic Harley Clarke mansion. It is an annual Saturday event with an attendance of 20,000 expected. Therefore I spent one difficult year of volunteer work. The festival work took up most of every day of my life and left me no time for my studio, for painting, for family and for friends.
This art festival was life consuming. I did much of the work because volunteers weren’t easy to come by. 

Most of all…I hated fund raising. Asking large corporations for money was not my thing. But I had to do it

The Jury

Firstly the art festival is a juried art show. Secondly there were over 600 applicants in the visual arts area. Tons of artist wanted to be in this prestigious art festival.  Thirdly and most importantly after the jurying only 39 artists showing paintings, prints and drawings were selected. Moreover only 18 sculptors and 15 ceramics exhibitors were chosen. In conclustion It was a tough jury, but a very high quality group of artists were selected. I was very proud of our show.

Showtime Has Arrived

The indoor show got hung on Friday. I couldn’t wait til the morning. And here’s what happened on Saturday morning…
A major rain storm arrived which was NOT forecast at all. Above all I mean STORM.  The artists started to set up when it began to pour. I had to call the fire department to block traffic access. Everything had to be moved. After that everyone (the artists and their artworks) were moved indoors…except for the dancers. They were wanting to do their modern dance in the rainstorm on the beach behind the mansion. It was a mess and no one could really attend. However, the storm continued with no letup, thru Sunday afternoon.

One year of work, literally, washed down the storm drains.


Budget wise, I bought thousands of dollars worth of hotdogs, buns and drinks. In addtion they were donated to local churches (the churches were very happy) Therefore, other than for the churches, nothing good came from this event. For instance not for the artists, not for the city, and definitely not for me. Above all, I knew for certain that outdoor art festivals were not my cup of tea, or coffee, or anything liquid. As records have it, this was the first rainout for this annual festival in ten years. 
And…I never volunteered for any envelope addressing or chairmanship or for sure fund raising – ever again.

Evanston Art Center today


New Products

Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.
Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 5 – Art Show Northwestern


One Woman Art Show


Art Show – Northwestern University Library


Would I be interested in having a one woman art show?

On one of my days at the Evanston Art Center I was again approached by a board member, who asked if I would be interested in having a one woman art show at Northwestern University library. I actually had an art show a few months before at a small gallery in Chicago. 
But Northwestern was a much more prestigious idea. Pretty exciting for me in a relatively short time after leaving school. I visited the library and saw that it was a very large space. Perfect because I actually had a large body of work on canvas, mostly nudes. In fact 90% nudes, and mostly females. I also felt that it would be comprehensive with just one theme. 
The date for the art show was 4 months away. I was beyond excited. Approximately 6 weeks before the show I received a phone call advising me that the press releases have all been released to the major newspapers. That meant the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times and several regional papers. And a photographer was coming to do a photo shoot for a magazine article. Now I was really excited. Not bad for someone whose art career started with paint by number paintings. I think my largest paint by number canvas size was 18”x24”. And this art show would be with canvases most 48”x60” 
Then the last minute statement in that phone call. The speaker, “Oh Jackie, were you told that there is one stipulation? Because it’s a public library, you can’t show nudes.” My answer, “You’ve got to be kidding? Nudes is what I have been showing everywhere.” Nudes were my specialty. And that was my body of work. I swallowed hard and said, “then please cancel the show.
She said Jackie, “this isn’t some small town, IT’S CHICAGO. It’s 6 weeks away and if you ever want to show in Chicago again, you can’t cancel.”  Now I had a giant dilemma. 
I needed to have at least 10 new paintings 48”x60”, my medium was oil paints and they took weeks to dry even if I could paint them. What could I possibly do? 
My solution was my small at home art studio. I announced that for 6 weeks I would eat and sleep in our finished basement, and paint in the little 12’x15’ studio. Al stretched 10 canvases for me. And I went to Al’s greenhouse where I selected 10 of his interesting small bromeliad plants. They all were in flower, and the flower shapes were very erotic.
I needed to have at least 10 new paintings 48”x60”, my medium was oil paints and they took weeks to dry even if I could paint them. What could I possibly do? 
My solution was my small at home studio. I announced that for 6 weeks I would eat and sleep in our finished basement, and paint in the little 12’x15’ studio. Al stretched 10 canvases for me. And I went to Al’s greenhouse where I selected 10 of his interesting small bromeliad plants. They all were in flower, and the flower shapes were very erotic.
art show
art show
But they weren’t nudes. The plants were in 4” pots and were about 6” tall. I blew them way up in scale, drew them on white backgrounds, and they became erotic shapes of intense color. My solution was to use thin layers of oil washes, layer after layer until they became extraordinary. I slept little and painted joyfully. The family was so supportive, and brought down all my meals.
The completed body of work was seven- 48×60” pieces and one triptych of 30×40”each. I also showed six 18”x24” framed and matted charcoal drawings of these bromeliads.
I called the series “Erotica”. Of course there was no way to keep the background of the canvas white without color splatter. So my final week was to paint a new layer of white paint and I carried the paintings into the art show…WET. Yes wet paint! I had small signs hung that said… WET PAINT. The show was hung the day before opening night. All I wanted to do was sleep.
I arrived on opening night and found a totally crowded show. I mean crowded. At least 100 people. Wine and snacks, happy talk and music. I was overwhelmed. And how was the show received? It Sold Out the first night with an additional 3 custom commissions.
art show
Erotica – Just a Little Pink
One commission was memorable. They wanted the most erotic drawing blown way up but painted in sepia and white with just a little pink. Title of course Erotica – Just a Little Pink. It hung in the window of a Michigan Avenue Hair Salon for years. Then it ended up in a divorce custody battle.
It wound up being moved to Palm Springs California. And.some 30 years after that art show, I too moved to Palm Springs. I actually got to visit that piece …Just a Little Pink. It hangs in a restored mid-century home with the traditional colors of the1950’s… pink and turquoise. How perfect. 

And what did this show really do for me. It gave me the courage to leave the familiar and to explore new ideas. And to this day I do that very think.

Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.

10 Master Drawers (and What They Teach Us)

Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 4 – Invite to Studio


During my three years in Art School I worked evening hours, after my kids were in bed, doing income tax returns for an accountant. 
Yes I actually am one of those people who uses both sides of their brain. I took accounting classes when living in St. Louis, so that I could use that skill in our business. It kept me well employed so that I could pay for tuition and art materials.
Right after I graduated art school, we built a new home in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook. Down in our finished basement was my 12’ x15’ art studio. A wonderful room, with a shelf along the wall to hold paintings in progress, and several easels, a table with a glass palette for the oil paints, large bottles filled with paint burshes (at least 50 large sized brushes (nothing smaller than a size 18, with 2 little ones #4 and #6 sable brushes for signing) I always painted with brushes larger than anyone in my art classes.
I also joined the Evanston Art Center, an incredible old mansion on the Lake Michigan waterfront in Evanston IL. It was a great place for artists to gather, exchange ideas, and where classes were offered. In the 3rd floor ballroom, it became an art studio where we had models and drawing sessions several days a week.
On a monthly basis there was an art show of members’ artwork. I entered a show and, amazingly, I was awarded first place for a painting. I no longer have the piece. Unfortunately my whole portfolio is gone. Too many moves, too many moving losses.
But…a few days after the show I was approached by two artists, who were inviting me to share a loft studio that they had in Chicago, right near Loyola University. It was in an old loft building. 
The art studio was 6000 square feet, with an additional office and sitting room in the front. The sitting room had windows, and the main space had only a door to a fire escape. 
My space was in the center next to the conveyor belt which came up from the loading dock on the street level. I was lucky enough to have a storage room in my space, where I kept all of my canvases and extra supplies. 
Ventilation was not to be had, but great company was always available. And every once in a while the conveyor belt would start to work and one or two guys would appear to see who and what I was painting. They loved my nudes. 

There were four of us in the back and one person in the front office. Alan was our leader, he collected and paid the rent and ordered the groups art supplies. Alan’s night work was with NBC where he was film editor of the Chicago feed of the Today Show. His art consisted of many 12 foot long paintings of a single goldfish. Remember he was staring at tiny film strips all night.
Eleanor Dixon, Alan’s wife painted small paintings and drawing of imaginary little people. I always wondered about her people until I saw her other artwork. She was a courtroom illustrator who did the best watercolor illustrations of sensational murderers on trial. 
And Olga shared the space next to me. Olga was a retired radio actress. After her 30 year career she enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute and graduated with a fine art degree. Olga worked in cold rolled steel which she etched with acid, to create incredible surfaces. And all while she worked she would in the low toned Russian accent of one of her instructors say “ Olga you do not have an artists sensibility.” What she didn’t have was a sense of how harmful to our health those acids were. One afternoon as I painted awaym I looked over her way and she was about to pass out. Thank goodness for the fire escape, where I dragged her half conscious body. 
Last episode of the many studio adventures. On my second day in the art studio, Alan said “the reason I invited you to join us is that I could see your potential. But now you have to forget everything you learned in those three years in art school and find Jackie.” She’s not visible in your work but your instructors are.”

It took about a year but I uncovered Jackie.

That’s the artist that you know today. 
OK just one more story. Late afternoon and I’m home watching the news. The big news was a 4 alarm fire on Loyola avenue. Yikes, it was the building next to our studio. I grabbed the phone, called Alan and asked if he got us fire insurance. You know he was very much, a typical artist. Details, finances and things like insurance were not his long suit. Of course we didn’t have insurance. Fortunately that fire did not affect our building, thanks to the Chicago Fire Department.
I took over paying all the bills for our studio group. Bought fire insurance and balanced the books monthly. My gift wasn’t that I was born with talent. My real gift is being able to use both sides of my brain. That gift has carried me far in this lifetime.

Would you be kind enough to have friends and family who’d be interested in this series “Meet The Artist”  sign up to become a friend of the artist. Thank you.

10 Master Drawers (and What They Teach Us)

Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 3 – Hair



About My Hair. 

Now that I have confronted and conquered my lack of ability to draw, it became obvious that it was time to confront my biggest problem in life. 
I had this stuff on the top of my head. Now I was a young girl, about age four. No I wouldn’t call it hair, I guess it would be called a bush. Fuzz, fuzz and more fuzz.
My mother would try to brush it and I would spend the next ½ hour crying. The brush would pull and be so painful. She’d eventually get the hair into long finger curls and by the next morning it was fuzz again. And the pain would start all over.
Now it was time to go to school. No time for that kind of ritual, so she’d take me to the beauty parlor where I would definitely leave without beauty. The lady would basically shave me head and leave me with what looked like a boys haircut. Until high school I just lived with the pain of how I appeared.
But then I started high school which was a mixed race school. I also had very dark skin, and after a summer in the sun, I was extremely suntan with black fuzz on top. I was now in charge of my hair, so I let it get a little longer. My problem was that it would not stay in any style for any period of time. And in those days there were no hair products. But in a mixed race school, I actually felt like I belonged. There were plenty of girls who had my same problem. And I was accepted because I didn’t really look out of place. 
In the last half of my senior year we moved about 40 miles to the Northside of Chicago. New school, all white and me and my hair. But I was welcomed into the class, met Norma who is my dearest friend to this day, she introduced me to Bobbie, and we were 3 buddies. Norma had and still has the most beautiful perfectly thick, straight light brown hair. Oh how I envied her hair. We graduated, went on to the University of Illinois, Chicago Branch. But that was short lived. I met Al who accepted me, with that very dark skin and very difficult hair. He never saw me that way. In his eyes I was beautiful.
My obsession became the beauty salon, where I would have hair washed one day a week, and go back two more days a week for what was called comb-outs. Oh the money I spent on my hair. I even considered going into partnership with my hair stylist. We were now living in St Louis Missouri. I was told my hair would relax after childbirth. I gave birth to two my two daughters in St.Louis Relaxed hair was a myth. After our move back to Chicago my hair got totally unmanageable. Many a night I cancelled on our dinner dates and would retreat to bed, where I would hide from myself.
I was doing my ritual 3 day a week beauty salon, when Robert my hairstylist asked me the very best question. How can you as an artist, devote so much time on your appearance? Why don’t you just let it be really natural?
And so here’s the  photo of my acceptance of my wonderful hair. That was the last salon visit. I trimmed my own hair when it needed it and do that to this day.
Another problem confronted and resolved. It only took 30 years. As part of my art life, I would model for other artists. Here’s a painting done by Chicago artist, Tom Dudas. Everyone loved painting my hair. And I loved their paintings.

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Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 2 – Art School Years



Art Academy Years

I registered for a 6 week class in drawing/painting at the local community center. The results of those six Wednesday night, 3 hour classes. One partly completed oil painting of tulip flowers. I spent 3 of those weeks trying to draw the tulips, before I touched the paints. Everyone else finished 3 paintings in the 6 weeks.

About The Art Academy


My friend took me to her school. There I was at The American Academy of Art in Chicago. I registered for a 3 year program, studying studio art with a concentration in oil painting and figure drawing.That’s a big change from Craft Master paint by number kits. My drawing instructor said drawing is all about seeing. So for 6 weeks we focused on drawing in charcoal from plaster casts, until we could really see what was there; the old master’s way of drawing in those European academies.
Then for six more weeks we painted from photographs. Here is my first painting after 12 weeks of classes.
art academy painting

Drawing and painting from life

Now we began the real work.  That means from a breathing and often moving human being. Three times a week we spent 3 hours drawing from the nude live model. 1 minute poses, 3 minute poses, 5 minute poses and the long 20 minute pose at the end of the session.  Three more hours of painting from another model, who was sometimes clothed. Oh yes and then there were the drapery sessions (drawings of cloth in charcoal to learn how to see clothing)
In year three I built the human form in clay, starting with the skeleton, adding the muscles and then the flesh on one side of the sculpture.At the end of those three years I now had the skill of being able to see, and to draw. They call that graduation. I call that just the beginning of my adventurous art career. Because what I now know is that once you have the skill, what you do with it becomes the Gift. To keep things somewhat in time it is now 1968.

Checkout my cuttingboards


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Artist Jackie Jacobson

Chapter 1 – Gift of Talent


Gift of Talent!


“Were you born with the gift of talent?”

That’s the question that I’m most asked.

Every person who sees a piece of my art says “ I can’t draw a stick figure, you must have been born with the gift of talent.”
So today I’m going to talk about my lack of gift of talent at birth and beyond. 
My gift and passion since I was four years old.has been for color, I was a happy little artist with coloring books, crayons and a knife to scrape the wax. Without the coloring book I was unskilled and unable to do anything artistic. 
Continuing on to grammer school, I literally showed no talent. My gift was my academic ability. So after 4th grade I worked in the principal’s office doing typing, during art and music classes. Yes I was one of the few kids who could type in 4th grade. I became a little secretary.
The Reason for no Art classes… I could not draw. Remember I wasn’t born with the gift of talent.
My gifted Dad, who could draw, drew all of my report covers. Actually he did that for me through high school ( where I volunteered in the department for the blind instead of taking art and music )
Onward to my mid 20’s. I discovered paint by number. I was in heaven, painting every clown, horse, vase of flowers, etc. Craft Master Paint by Number was my opening to a career in art.
I graduated to ordering large sized paint by number kits. I bought an easel and at night my kitchen table became my studio. With a palette on the table next to my easet, I mixed color # 10 with color # 12 and created transition colors for my masterpiece.I was now in my 3rd year of painting by number. That was my obsession. One evening I was painting a large famous artist reproduction when an artist friend came over to visit in my studio ?
She asked with amazement in her voice “What are you doing? Why don’t you just buy a canvas and paint?” My admission. I wasn’t born with the gift of talent and I could not draw. She changed my life. She told me that  drawing is a skill and can be learned, just like sewing is a skill. I could sew. She eventually took me to her art school where I registered and spent 3 years learning the truth.
Oh yes I can now draw.
It’s a skill that can be learned. But truth is I was not born with talent, I was born with a love of color. And most of all perserverance. 
In the coming weekly chapters you’ll travel thru my art career and life adventures.I’ve often been told that with my interesting life experiences, I should write a book. Well here it is. Stay tuned and thanks so much for reading along.

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10 Master Drawers (and What They Teach Us)