Hi! My name is Jessica Hay and I live in Wasilla, Alaska (follow me on Instagram!). I am fascinated with science and love writing but not math, so I studied Anthropology. I never finished my Masters degree, but I did receive a BA and have worked in my field.
My work with the National Park Service (both Lake Clark and Katmai NP) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game focused on my passions: subsistence fishing, collecting oral histories, education, ethnobotany, and all things trail. My passion for learning about the natural world, connecting with people, and the influence of my work as an anthropologist in remote Alaskan villages has led me to nature journaling.
As an anthropologist, I am interested in the social history of landscapes, and Alaska is the most inspiring muse. Functionally, the landscape provides for me in many ways: I gather medicine, I eat the plants, I fish and hunt and eat my catch, I recreate here, and I receive so much inspiration from it all.
I often have moose in my yard (in fact as I write this I am watching two browsing on a fallen tree from my window). I can find anything from Dall Sheep to bears, anadramous fish to migratory birds, and any number of fascinating small mammals and plant life minutes from my home if not on my doorstep. Every day, I have something I find endlessly fascinating to document in my journal.
As an academic/career-minded woman turned homemaker, I have found that combining my love for art and writing has been a rewarding creative and intellectual outlet. I think it also has made me more observant of natural phenomena, and dig deeper into understanding the minute details that largely go unnoticed.
Last fall, I joined Instagram and have really enjoyed the interaction with people from around the world. What an amazing tool for artists, especially those like me who are otherwise isolated from larger populations and ideas.
First, I go outside. I always find something super cool (to me). I have a camera everywhere I go, and take photos of my findings for reference later.
Second, I draw. I usually have a half hour to an hour to draw and journal. Most of the time I work only in ink, but if we are sitting around the table and the kids have their Crayola paints out I will add a splash of color to keep it interesting. My journals are messy. There is no time to lay things out in pencil first, so I just go for it with ink. At first it was intimidating, but now I have been working this way for a year and I think it has made me a better artist. I am forced to work with mistakes and be content with less than perfection.
The photos included here are the raw, honest look inside my personal journals, with my observations. I find that drawing out my observations is a way for me to get to know my subject more intimately. I consider my work to be love letters to the subjects.
I deeply love each bird, moose, and bone I find, and love extending my time with them by drawing. Sometimes I find a detail I hadn’t noticed before and my understanding deepens. Often, I will be thinking of some spiritual element of my own life that is symbolically represented in some aspect of what I am drawing. I love having that quiet reflective time.
And last, I share! Since joining Instagram, I find I have time to expand on my ideas about my work in written form. I think my work as an artist is equal parts drawing and writing. I write a lot of captions in school parking lots, while waiting for a pot to boil, or from my bed at night. All of these odd little times of waiting are now my own to use to complete my artistic expressions. Thank you so much for being part of my journey!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!