Lillian Jacobson

April 2021's Alumni of the Month Spotlight

What have you been up to since leaving CCBC? Jobs, accomplishments you'd like to share, moving, etc.

I transferred to MICA in spring 2014 as a painting major. About a month before I graduated, my mentor James Williams visited my studio with the artist Amy Sherald (this was a few years before she was big time famous). She offered me a job as a studio manager to help her with the backgrounds and clothing of her paintings, in addition to some administration tasks. I eventually worked part-time at the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and part-time with Amy. She ended up moving to New Jersey around the same time I began a full-time position at MSDE. I am now the MSDE Fine Arts Project Manager and also the Regional Events Planner at the Maryland State Arts Council. I work a lot lol, but both jobs are very rewarding.

Lillian Jacobson

What art projects are you currently working on and how does it compare to your work at CCBC?

I'm starting a new series focusing on the art influences in my life. My great aunt Helen Jacobson was an accomplished abstract painter. I've been inspired by her work lately. I've also been inspired by my two grandfathers – one became a painter after retiring and the other was a judge who loved musical theatre haha. My last living grandparent passed away in February of this year, so I've been doing a lot of reflecting on how blessed I was to have so many family members fully supportive of my art-making. At CCBC, my art was also very self-reflective, but solely figurative. One thing I heard from many professors at CCBC was that they were afraid that by relying so much on my technical skills, I was actually holding myself back conceptually. After transferring to MICA, I ventured into non-representational abstraction. Now, I'm kind of doing a mix of both with representational abstraction.

What’s your current art process like? How does it compare to when you were at CCBC?

I only have about an hour each morning to paint before having to get ready for work!! It's not fun having to be so restrictive with my time in the studio, but it keeps me focused. While at work, I get distracted with planning what changes to my paintings I'll make the next morning lol. The benefit to not being in school is that I can set my own deadlines and am never in a rush. I work in oils which take foreverrrrrrr for each layer to dry. At CCBC, I don't think I ever touched linseed oil and definitely not stand oil. I was all about Liquin and whatever it took to dry the paint layer as fast as possible. Not being in school gives me the freedom to try different techniques and glazes that actually slow down the drying time, but gives me the creamiest, shiniest, deepest colors.

How do you see your work growing in the future?

My fiancé and I just moved into a 2-bedroom apartment. We've transformed the second bedroom into the perfect art studio. So, my artwork is about to get much bigger! I finally have the space for multiple large-scale paintings at a time. I also recently bought an actual camera to document my artwork. Before this year, I've used my blurry iPhone 7 camera (yes, I probably need a phone upgrade too – but the camera comes first). I'm excited to get good quality photos of my artwork and get serious about submitting artwork to exhibitions.

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Stop overthinking every little thing! So what if your painting isn't 100% done? No one in class knows that – don't skip that critique; show up and rock it! Lol I had the worst anxiety as a student. I learned the hard way that it really doesn't help to not show up to class just because you don't think you're ready. 9 times out of 10 your professor understands if something isn't done yet and will still provide constructive feedback to help you finish it the way you want it. Also, I wish I took advantage of all of the classes I could take! I always knew painting was my thing, so I limited myself to art classes where I can paint. Now that I don't have access to the facilities I had at CCBC, I really wish I took the time to learn other skills like printmaking and ceramics. I'd love to learn those art forms, but I'd be a complete beginner and I can't justify the cost for access to those studios right now.