Although she grew up in a family of artists – the only daughter of a companion and librarian – Jill Myer never imagined that she would create art for a living.
“Both of my parents are creative individuals,” Myer said. “I grew up in the 70s, when everyone lived off what they had. We didn’t have credit cards. We made do with it. We did things, and we fixed things. And that’s the heart of an artist. ‘How do I do that? How can I represent this in a way that no one else has? I came naturally enough.
But even though she was artistically inclined, art was not on her career radar. She had only taken one art class in high school, and after graduation began to earn a degree in social work. She soon realized that social work was not for her. “My grades were slipping. I knew taking art classes would be an easy A for me, so I became an art student. It was kind of like cheating because that was what I knew and what I did. So I got a degree in art.
But even after graduating in art from the University of Montana, Myer didn’t think he could support himself as an artist. “So I went looking for a job.” She has worked as a barista, in retail and as a guide on a ranch. She worked in property management and other clerical jobs before getting fundraising work at a non-profit organization. “It’s one of those things where you feel good about doing what you’re doing. “
There was always an undercurrent of wanting creativity to be a career. A few years ago, Myer said she had a craving for art, so she bought a set of children’s watercolor paints and painted for 12 hours straight. “The next day I went to an art store and bought better paintings. It was the smallest possible investment to get started. I watched online classes and loved every second, ”she said.
Since that day his work has evolved into encaustic paintings inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest Coast. “My current work reflects the soothing gray rainy days, the foamy roar of the ocean waves and the wide array of plants provided by Oregon’s lush landscape,” Myer said.
Encaustic paints are pigments, beeswax, and a natural tree resin called damar. To work with encaustic paints, they must be melted from a solid wax to a liquid. Torches, heat guns, and sculpting tools are then used to render an image.
Myers has always been interested in working with encaustic, but it is much more complicated than what she used to do. “He needs cross ventilation. There must be some configuration. This is not your type of dining table art. It is a commitment.
The colored wax is placed on an electric hotplate to keep it hot enough to stay liquid. The wax dries almost as soon as the brush touches the canvas, or in Myer’s art, the cradle which is the surface strong enough for hot wax. “Encaustic is not a traditional type of painting. The torches are actually the brushes because when I put the wax on a dry surface it will come loose. There is not enough time to mix. So I dab and come back with the flame and remelt the wax to smooth, mix and agitate.
Although encaustic is his primary medium, Myer still works with watercolors. She currently has plans to create small paintings – about an inch in size – and leave them for people to find. “I hope this will bring joy to someone. But if he’s thrown out, I don’t go out too much. It makes me happy. I add my Instagram handle on the back with a hashtag #artlefttofind and hope one day someone finds a mini board and tag me on a photo. To me, it’s the modern version of a message in a bottle.
Myer was recently accepted into the For Arts Sake Gallery, an artist-owned gallery in Nye Beach in Newport. “It’s a big professional step for me to be involved,” she said.
After completing a residency with the Corvallis Art Center focused on business training, Myer also strives to help other artists think like business owners.
“If you want to have a career as an artist, you not only have to create the art, but you have to sell yourself. You are a seller. You must apply for grants. You have to sell yourself to gallery owners.
She found that she was really good at selling and very comfortable talking to people. “I am a chatty lady. I’ve been a communicator all this time, and now I can talk about something I love.
Myer sets up a workshop to help other artists promote and sell their work. “I see a need. Some people think that if their art is good enough, people will buy it without any extra effort on their part. I think it’s something that people can learn.
“I see the value in how creativity and being a creative person has enriched my life,” she added. “People need encouragement. Humans are creative. I want this for everyone.
Visit jillmyerartist.com to see his work and current projects.