WHEN HER MOTHER passed away in 2001, Wendy L. Jackson poured herself into her poetry. Her creativity thrived as she allowed her writing to become her therapy for dealing with her overwhelming sense of loss. “Everywhere I traveled, I took photographs and drew the scen-ery for the poems I wrote,” states Jackson, a native of South Caroli-na who now lives in Georgia. “The writing and photography got me through my grief, and I longed to share my journey back from the heartache I’d felt after losing my mother with others.”
In 2005, she published her collection of inspirational poems and photographs in a book entitled Food for the Soul. Her creative genie was out of the bottle, and she quickly realized there was no putting her back. That’s when Jackson began painting abstract backdrops for her poetry—just as a hobby—unleashing another creative talent that had lain dormant inside her for decades.
A mostly self-taught artist, with a knack for realism but a passion for abstracts, Jackson finally enrolled in an art workshop at Marietta Square in Marietta, Georgia, in 2007. “I couldn’t wait for those Saturday workshops,” she says of her first formal training in art. “After I’d painted six abstracts, my instructor told me it was time. ‘Time for what?’ I asked her. She said it was time for me to start selling my work. I was stunned. My instructor told me I had a gift, a talent, and all I’d needed was someone to bring it out of me.”
Jackson took her instructor at her word. After completing 20 abstracts, she stepped boldly into the art scene in and around Atlanta, first gaining confidence showing at local art walks and other local events. Her first sales quickly followed. Jackson was soon fielding invitations from galleries, guilds, art centers and art events to show her extraordinary work in more formal environments.
“Being a visual artist, I enjoy creating from my heart,” says Jackson, who has earned several art awards over the last decade. “It’s where my truest and deepest feelings reside. Art allows me to express my feelings about things around me that make me who I am today.”
A devotee of acrylic paint who uses brushes, palette knives and other objects to create her art, Jackson believes color is integral to all of our lives. “Color symbolizes the mood of calmness in our minds, spirits and our souls,” she says. “It sets the tone for our feelings, culture, tradition and religion. It also brings harmony that is pleasing to our eyes. It’s the universal language of conversation, as it brings joy, laughter, sadness, love and, most of all, peace.”
Jackson is rarely more engaged with her work than when she’s got her hands in her painting. “I use hand movements when I want the painting to evolve and move in a smooth pattern,” she explains. “I want the painting to tell its own story. I never know how or where the essence of the color is going to reveal itself.”
Recently, Jackson was awarded FASO’s Bold Brush Award for an abstract for her piece entitled Transition, a 30-by-30-inch acrylic on canvas. She has also donated pieces to raise money and awareness for a number of worthy causes, including UNICEF, Give Me Five–No Kid Hungry and Jeffrey Fashion Cares, which supports the Atlanta AIDS Fund and Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta. She was featured in Upscale Magazine in 2016 through 2019, and her work was shown at the Charleston International Airport in 2017 as part of an exhibit presented by the South Carolina Watermedia Society.
“I love to bring joy to people because life can be very challenging at times. It’s amazing how a blank canvas can be transformed into a creative work that gives life and meaning to our lives. I want my art to speak to people. But I also want people to find whatever they need
and are looking for in my art,” Jackson says.
Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer who lives in Mount Pleasant.