Jess Hibler

Head Under Water, 2021
Watercolor and Gouache (9” x 12”)

Dream Land, 2021
Watercolor and Colored Pencil (12” x 16”)

Seascapes, 2021
Watercolor and Gouache (9” x 12”)

Play Wave, 2021
Watercolor with Gold Leaf (12” x 16”)

Adventures, 2021
Watercolor and Gouache (5.5” x 8.5”)

Excursion, 2021
Watercolor, Gouache, and Pen (5.5” x 8.5”)


“Head in the Clouds” is a series of watercolor paintings I created to search for the essence of reminiscent childhood memories. The work has a surreal quality with soft lines and blends of paint and water in the background. After creating these blends and washes of color in the background, I add harder boundaries and actual people, animals, or objects over that in the foreground with gouache, colored pencils, and pens.

My process is to apply diluted watercolor to paper and mix/blend colors and let them flow and run together. I start to imagine what I want the work to look like as the colors dry and what real thing the abstracted forms could turn into; much like children look up at the sky and determine what a cloud could resemble. As I decide how to bring out the rest of the image, I start to draw and paint in a more opaque gouache to bring out actual forms. These forms then become the people and object in my paintings, either floating on or interacting with the background, but contrasting its free flowingness.

I have and will always carry the belief that anyone can do art, it just takes practice. The process I use reminds me of this as the blobs of color created on my page with watercolors turn into art as I add layers and work through problems that arise.

Through this work, I am exploring memories of my childhood, a time in my life that I felt most free to create and use my imagination as I wanted. The work addresses how I have boxed myself into an image or idea of creativity and how I am still working towards moving out of it. I want my practice to lead me toward a better understanding of my own imagination and what I find fun and interesting about the world. I want to see it again through a child-like sight. I have found myself drawn to painting scenes of my memories of growing up close to the ocean. I would spend every weekend there with family or friends and have always been inspired by its beauty. By rediscovering my memories and therefore my imagination, I am reminded again how I can still have fun and make art.