Jacks McNamara is a painter, designer, writer, healer, and activist based in Santa Fe, NM. Their work has been shown across North America, most recently at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, NM, and at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver, CA. Their first book of poetry and painting, Inbetweenland, was released in 2013 by Deviant Type Press. Jacks’ early life and art are the subject of the 2009 documentary film Crooked Beauty. You can buy prints of Jacks' work at http://jacksmcnamara.net/store2.
Sometimes my painting is an exploration of what is marvelous and particular, especially in forms inspired by nature – flowers, trees, patterns of rain or leaf or bark. Sometimes it is a way to connect with all the peak experiences I can’t actually live inside day to day – the sunrise in Death Valley, the river through that canyon in Texas, certain waterfalls, mountaintops, forests, moments of falling in love – those times of burningly alive or radiantly connected that feed my soul the raw thing that allows it to survive capitalism and the destruction of our planet. I think that is often what people experience when my work touches them – some elemental feeling of what it is to be alive and longing and resisting the machine. Beauty is necessary for this survival. I work mostly in abstraction, and am not painting how those times look but how they feel, how they emerge as I listen to music and allow my mind to free associate through color, pattern, and form. I’m synesthetic, and music is essential to my process – it fills me with colors and textures that help guide my work, which is mainly improvised.October,
I work primarily in ink, watercolor, and pastel on paper. These were the media of my childhood, and I returned to them as an adult partly out of necessity – after spending too much time in my early twenties oil painting with little ventilation, I developed an acute sensitivity to solvents, and had to find less toxic ways of creating. Acrylics always felt like plastic to me, so my experiments with them did not last long. I quickly became enchanted with the richness and possibility of transparency in ink and watercolor, the particulars of accident and orchestrated chaos that become possible when you paint wet into wet or wet into dry, when you drop ink from heights or apply it with a fine brush. There is also a finality and precision to working with water-based media; you cannot erase, particularly with dark pigments. You must think ahead and you must commit to your marks. It becomes a process that requires a lot of faith and risk, on a certain level. You do not have the mercy of opacity to cover up your mistakes or change history as is possible with oils and acrylics. Because transparent media are such an unforgiving medium, I occasionally introduce pastels in the later stages of a painting when I want a little more flexibility to revise. It’s been an intricate dance developing these techniques. People often tell me they’ve never seen work quite like mine, and I think the unique interplay of my media is one of the primary reasons. That, and heart.