Featured Artist Jake Beckman

Artsy Shark presents the portfolio of painter Jake Beckman. Check out her other thought-provoking works by visiting her website and blog.

To me nature is a world of mathematical beauty; I literally see the beauty of the numbers everywhere I look.  When I see high tension power lines I see the catenary. When I look at trees, mountains and other scenery I see fractals.   Math has always been integral to my expression because living forms exhibit self-similarity, symmetry, geometry and other mathematic constructs as well.  Mathematics is one way to understand creation.  Manmade forms and constructs, including my own are a pale imitation and yet I still must try to communicate and abstract the wonder I behold.

I generally paint realistic things, but as time goes on I find myself less drawn to the concrete and more intangible, looking for the intrinsic value of the communication. I am developing an appreciation for the qualities of non-representational concepts.

I believe art requires a certain lightness of spirit and thickness of hide. Dark and disaffected surrounds us all; it is very easy to be drawn into shadow and feel the need to convey the corresponding emotions.  I generally do not paint dark and disaffected except as a necessary contrast to understand light.  I want people to feel joy, happiness, laughter, strength and other positive emotions when they behold my art. I not only want them to look deeper, but feel uplifted somehow.

And as I write the preceding paragraph I recall a story my second grade teacher told me of the ant and the grasshopper.  Before I heard her version, the story was a parable about the value of hard work and the ants were mighty cold to that grasshopper come winter. Mrs. McGovern’s version was rather different. In her version of the story the grasshopper enjoys the summer, singing and dancing the whole time the ants toil away. In the winter the grasshopper comes to the ants because he is hungry, cold and has not stockpiled these necessities. Of course the ants ask why they should feed him when they worked so hard all summer long, while he did not.  The grasshopper begins to sing; he emotes the lazy days of summer; pretty soon the ants are drawn into his dream, recalling their own visions of the sun, the warmth, the hues, even as they huddle in their ant hole.  And in the end, they let the grasshopper in and feed him as he recalls the colors of summer for them.  In my mind that is my real job, recalling the colors of summer, even as the blanket of winter covers us all.

I have seen and taken a number of beautiful photographs, but for me art is not about the way things are, it’s more about the way they should be. Art is a journey into the mind and the imagination; there are no dragons, no talking animals, and no way to ride a beam of light, but maybe there should be.  To accomplish my aim of communicating what should be, I paint outside and between the lines to reveal what is not there.

I usually have a notion of how the painting is going to look by the time the brush touches the canvas as the painted end-result is part of a long process of thought, sketching and digital manipulation. However, the canvas is where the painterly effects happen, the fractal-like flow of water, paint and medium.  Once I get to the phase where the paint hits the canvas I am not a patient person, therefore I love acrylic paints; they dry fast and I can do multiple layers and create multiple effects in a short time.  The colors can be vibrant or muted.  I can create watercolor like effects allowing the luminosity of the canvas or paper to show through or thick textured impastos.  I can layer my paintings adding dry brush and other effects to enhance my under-paintings to create depth and detail.  Although my projects are planned I do like the paint to move and do its own thing.  When I am painting I am in the ultimate spatial zone – I am at home in the nonverbal world of color, light, and space; it is my favorite place to be.


  1. I love Jake’s work. Especially her newer bird and fractal works. I recently spent some time on her website reading the meanings behind the different pieces in her bird series and I really get a kick out of them. She has placed a lot of interesting ideas into such fun and sweet little birds. Definitely a big fan here!

  2. Great interview Jake, really enjoyed learning more about your art processes, especially loved the grasshopper story. Your art is summer, joyful, and happy. Thanks for sharing.


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