An Interview with Artist Jackie Maloney on the Inspiration Behind Her Art

Why did you decide to become an artist?

Growing up I was a very introverted person (still am!). So most of my childhood was spent observing the world around me and filling my days with tons of solo creative activities. Drawing was an outlet for me. My mother was also very creative and artistic and she would always encourage me to create for myself. She is my inspiration. My parents also nurtured my ability with private art lessons throughout my childhood. Their encouragement ultimately paid off with a scholarship at my dream school - Maryland Institute College of Art [MICA] in Baltimore, Maryland.

What is the feeling you want to evoke in each of your pieces? And how do you envision your work to be displayed in people’s homes?

I hope when people see my work it feels light, bright, airy and clean. A lot of my work evokes nostalgia for people because it reminds them of summertime staples from their childhood on Long Island (or really, any coastal beach town). I also like to slip in a little bit of humor here and there because my goal is mainly to make quirky-whimsical images that make people feel happy. I picture a lot of my art in people's kitchens or other light filled spaces (although the wine map certainly looks perfect above the wine rack or home bar!). I frame all of my work in clean white frames with white mats to keep with that light airy feeling, but I've seen some of my collectors use bolder frames to fit their own personally styled spaces.

What inspires you to draw and how do you set the mood?

I wish I had some mystical way of getting inspiration or a fool-proof brainstorming formula, but unfortunately I get inspired while doing very mundane activities like vacuuming or going for a run. I believe it's called "The Shower Theory." Solutions to creative problems, or just ideas in general, tend to come to me when I'm not thinking about anything in particular at all and my mind is totally clear. Ideas just kind of pop up and reveal themselves when I'm not forcing it.  

To set the right mood, first, I delete the Instagram app from my phone and log out of Facebook to remove some of those inevitable procrastination roadblocks. Then I'll make some tea, put on my favorite Spotify playlist and start working. If it's a project that I don't particularly want to do, I'll also clean my entire house first. Like I said, I want to make sure I keep that light, airy and CLEAN feeling (haha).

Tell us a bit about your inspiration behind the Nautical Knots, Vineyards Maps, Long Island Map, and the artwork in The Shelter Island 36 that we are featuring on our marketplace:

Nautical Knots: I originally painted this piece as a commission for someone graduating from Maritime College. But I shared some progress shots of it on my social media and got such a great response that I decided to make prints of it available to everyone. A lot of people seem stumped by the difference between a "Square Knot" and a "Thief Knot." Here's the difference (with the help of Wikipedia): they may seem similar "except that the free, or bitter ends are on opposite sides. It is said that sailors would secure their belongings in a ditty bag using the thief knot often with the ends hidden. If another sailor went through the bag, the odds were high the thief would tie the bag back using the more common square knot, revealing the tampering, hence the name."

Vineyards Map: The original version of this map was created in 2010 and it had a wine glass that was knocked over. A few years later I decided to turn it into a bottle. The map is updated yearly to keep up with all of the new vineyards that sprout up. And no, I have no idea how many vineyards there currently are because there's always a new one that I haven't heard about yet or some controversy over one closing!

Long Island Maps: I create the maps using a technique known as "wet on wet", I'll start the water bead at the edge of the map and let the colors bleed inwards. To get the shape of the coastline accurate, I use a light box.

The Shelter Island 36: Is a collection of 36 New England style recipes inspired by Shelter Island. I actually met the author/chef Jason Casey while exhibiting at the Greenport Maritime Festival. He was there selling his first cookbook, I was selling my seafoodie-artwork. The match was just too perfect.

Now let’s have a little fun!

Weirdest commission you've ever had?

I definitely feel like I'm forgetting (or repressing haha) some really bizarre commissions, but this one comes to mind right now. I used to paint custom ceramics out of a pottery studio and one time this woman paid me $85 to paint a cereal bowl pink with a raccoon face in the center for her granddaughter. (haha)

If you weren't an artist?

At one point I wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t initially want to be an artist - I didn’t think I could ever be as good as my mom. But if I wasn’t an artist, I might be cleaning teeth! I almost went back to school for dental hygiene, but I’m pretty clumsy….

Best kept long Island secret?

People don’t realize that we have blue claw crabs here; they’re not just in Maryland! Shelter Island has all these little creeks and streams and people go crabbing there at night.

Your Long Island inspiration?

The beach is definitely my Long Island inspiration. I would say my favorite beach, but I don’t want everyone to know about it! So I’m just going to say Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays.

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