Painter Tan-Yah Jackson shares her artist journey and presents a collection of vivid landscapes. See more of her portfolio on her website.
I’m a landscape artist with a studio in Oklahoma. I was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the United States in 2015.
I completed my studies in Fine Art in 2000. My third year of studies was especially significant and led me to base my body of work upon the concept of identity and the many layers of life given to us through past experiences. I explored how family dynamics influence who we are and how we mirror this back to the world. But when we pull away from these taught family concepts and become our own person, we are then able to create our own identity.
This concept that different layers make up human identity followed me throughout my life and into my art. Identity is often not about what we need to learn about ourselves, but rather what we must unlearn.
In life, people tend to get rid of the layers that are not really who they are. In art, we cover over the layers that don’t fit and pull out the areas that do work. My art consists of many layers of color, textures, splashes, and paint strokes. Immersing myself in each layer of paint, I discover a new part of who I am.
Some layers I paint and dislike. I must push through those layers, and work on them until I discover the beauty in the layers that don’t seem to fit. As I dive deeper, I reach a moment of enlightenment, knowing where the artwork leads me, the path of clarity. Working on it until it all forms a cohesive painting.
A couple of years ago, I discovered that my lack of awareness caused me to create from a false belief. My art stopped being about my journey, experiences, and life encounters and became about what would sell, who would like it, or who would buy it.
If my objective is to create artwork that people will like, I am in essence denying myself. If I create only to sell, my art will have no life and the sound of the canvas will be like an untuned orchestra. Because how do I truly know another person or create from their reality? So, I stopped knowing myself while still creating art. I had very little success, producing art from a place of performance, lack, and insecurity.
Once I became aware of this truth, my art started shifting and I enjoyed the process of creating again. My artwork told my story and I owned my voice as an artist—the good, the bad, the right, the wrong, the mistakes, as well as the best choices. Every day has become a discovery within me and my art.
Some parts of who I am is recognizable such as the landscapes I paint. Other parts of me can be concealed, in the same way as the dreamscapes—all diverse, mysterious, and multi-faceted, like me.