Jessie Rasche is no stranger to the art scene; she spent her formative years at the Pike Place Market and fairs, where her mother and other artists sold their creations to passers-by. “I hung out with artists, brought them coffee and got painting tips,” she said. “It was a lifestyle and a culture I grew up in. There was never a question about being an artist. I always knew that I would be one.”
Rasche, 38, studied fine art at Pacific Northwest College of Art for a couple of years, mastering technique while questioning her choices. “In my classes, there was rarely any discussion on how viewers were affected by art. I also noticed that after people graduated, many didn’t pursue their art.” So, Rasche left school to experience “Americana,” working odd jobs and eventually going back to school.
In 1997, Rasche graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor of science in psychology, questioning herself again with a “what now?” From 1999 to 2007, she worked in the visual arts, multimedia and design field as an illustrator, animator and multimedia developer. She did dozens of drawings, including scientific and medical illustrations, while keeping up with her urge to paint. “I was always driven to it,” she said.
In 2007, Rasche’s “what now” became a “now.” Married, with a child on the way, she decided wife, mother and artist were titles that raised no questions and so it began. “I took a pretty intensive graduate level color theory class online through the Academy of Art University, which mostly dealt with the emotional response viewers have to certain color combinations, and dealt a little with how other painting choices like proportion and design affect the viewer. I loved the class and it really opened my mind to more choices. Now I’d say I am more deliberate and I have a lot more to think about when I paint. It answered a lot of those questions that I had in art school about how viewers experience paintings.”
She began showing her work in Western Washington and locally at the Hutton Building and at Raw Space. Over a year ago, her husband, Heath’s, work brought them to Spokane. They settled in Nine Mile, where Rasche has a room in which she paints as often as she can, like during nap time (her son Caden is 2.) She said that having less time to paint actually helps her focus. “Painting is a back-and-forth process for me. While painting, I go back and forth, purposefully, between painting thoughtfully and deliberately, and then painting intuitively, just feeling and expressively painting. I define objects and details, and then make broad ambiguous, gestural strokes, obliterating details.”
Her style is representational and impressionistic and her subjects range from landscapes to figurative to still-life. She likes to illustrate an image or emotion with patterns and gestures, many brush strokes that add up to a finished piece. When you step close to one of her paintings, you can see deliberate strokes of color, and when you step back, the colors blend and become whole, encompassing a viewer with a moment of beauty. “I love capturing a feeling,” she said, “art that brings forth sighs from a viewer.”