We were on our way to the Nashville Film Festival. I was driving, my sister sitting next to me, and my Mom was in the back seat.
My Mom suddenly asks, “So, why is your art so dark now?”
It’s a valid question. See, I used to paint a lot of tropical themes, mermaids, palm trees. So, now that I’m suddenly making shadowy figures, ghosts, and rats I guess that would be confusing.
When I first started painting I chose safe things. Things I liked, that I knew other people would love. Just search these words and you’ll come up with thousands of pieces of art to choose from. Oceans. Mermaids. Palm Trees. And it was perfectly fine until it was no longer fine. I started getting so bored of it. I was uninspired.
And I started to notice at every art show I would get this question that I would awkwardly fumble through. What inspires you? I didn’t know how to answer; it was a problem. Partly because I think that question is flawed, because an artist’s work is influenced by their entire life, not just one moment. Instead of asking what inspires you, maybe the right question is, who are you?
And damn, what a shitty question that is when you feel lost.
If you ever want to figure out who you are, go back to the beginning. Look at what interested you when you were a kid. Before you felt that pressure of fitting in. Before responsibilities took over. Before you had to do ALL THE THINGS. What did you inherently love?
In elementary school I watched reruns of The Twilight Zone every night. Saturday nights were Snick at Night, which featured new episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. I read Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. At the toy store, I just wanted Ghostbusters toys and slime. My first trip to Disney World, my favorite ride was The Haunted Mansion. I once made all of the neighborhood kids dress up and read parts in the play I made, about vampires.
The media I was consistently drawn to was mysterious, scary, supernatural, magical, and to me, exciting.
And this continued on into middle and high school. Watching X-Files was a weekly tradition. My favorite holiday was always Halloween. My report on what I wanted to be when I grew up was, much to my parents dismay, a special effects makeup artist. Even my first real date was at a haunted house.
I started to notice that I had this interest in horror and the supernatural since the very beginning. And for some reason I had overlooked it. I hadn’t realized what a huge part of my life it had always been. So that year I decided to leave my Halloween decorations up instead of packing them away November 1. And it felt…right.
Once I knew what I was naturally drawn to, I started to focus on why. Why do horror movies, books, rides, haunted houses, etc. exist? Why are some people attracted to those things and some aren’t? What is it about these things that attracts me?
I started to research this and basically it comes down to these things: It gives us a safe way to explore our deepest fears. It makes us think about the unknown and the limitless possibilities of our imagination. It’s an escape from the mundane into different worlds full of creatures, spirits, and monsters. And , it’s fun.
My birthday was the day before the solar eclipse in 2017. It passed right through Nashville. My husband and I went out in the middle of the woods, alone, and watched the entire event. And it reminded me of the last solar eclipse I experienced. I was in 3rd grade and had to watch it through a pinhole box. It’s funny how a memory can come back so strongly and bring back a lot of feelings I had forgotten.
See, I love scary things. But there’s a whole other side to me too. I also equally love magic, love, light, and hope. Which is maybe just as much a part of horror as the terrifying monsters. As we were standing there under this bluish glow of the total eclipse, that can’t accurately be described in words, I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming connection to everything.
In the distance I could hear people cheering as we all stood for a moment, looking up.
And that battle between light and darkness is what really interests me. That important connection and balance. So, I changed everything. I left Jackie Cheuvront Art behind and created Eclipse Afterglow Studios.
Eclipse Afterglow Studios is not all sunshine and pretty flowers. I want to remind people that there is no light without darkness. That what you see is not always as it seems. That although things can suck really hard sometimes, there is still hope, and love, and good. And tequila.
I love the new path I’m on and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. When I’m in my studio it’s almost like being a kid again, where I can have some fun, forget about all my real problems, and focus on the monster behind the wall.
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