^ Jesse Edwards studio view.

OTP Short-Forms: Jesse Edwards


An interview with the classical painter of seedy ephemera.

Memling, being a terrible kid and re-inventing Bob Ross.

Born in Snohomoish in the late 70s and spending his formative years in the nearby Seattle, Edwards’ introduction to the world of visual art came in the form of painting graffiti as part of the prolific 3M and BTM crews.


After a short spell at art school where he learned to paint in a realistic style from live models, Edwards began depicting the “low cultural” details of a different and definitively American reality (bongs, twinkies and porno mags) in the style of the old masters he had studied. 

The following interview was produced to coincide with Painting is Painting's Favorite Food, a group show curated by Alison Gingeras featuring Jesse's work that will open at South Etna, Montauk on July 16th.

OTP Could you tell us a little bit about the new work you are showing at South Etna? What do you make of the lineup?

JE I think it is absolutely a phenomenal lineup I am honored and very grateful to have this opportunity to show my work.


I am showing a still life painting that is inspired by the artist Memling who painted an Iris still life in the 1400s and I did at work that is related to that. 

OTP How did you first come across Memling's work?

JE I 1st came across his work in an Instagram post. It was a still life with irises. I love Iris paintings and I was really shocked find out it was so old.


^ Jesse Edwards, Dutch Masters, 2015, Oil on linen, 41 x 36 cm. Courtesy of the artist and the Givis Collection.

OTP How did you initially learn to paint with oils? Did your time at Cornish play a role in helping to develop your present style?

JE I learned to paint with oils primarily through experience.

I went to corniche which was a stupid school and then I went to a school and was in rolled in what they call an 'A Atelier' program.

This is where you paint a model add a still life alternating weekly for about 3 or 4 years and through that experience is able to start sell my paintings.

OTP What was it like growing up in Snohomish?

JE Small home which was alright. My parents moved around a bit add I lived in the suburbs of Seattle during high school and elementary.


I preferred to go to the city so I frequently take the busses outside the city so I guess I didn't like it that much really.

OTP What did you parents do?

JE My mom worked in retail and my dad was a Vietnam Veteran that abandoned me as a kid and he just gets money from the government.

OTP What did you parents do?

JE I was a terrible kid. I was frequently kicked out of school add was into drugs.


^ Jesse Edwards, Body Count (from Painting Passion 4), 2015, Oil on linen, 112 x 91.5. Courtesy of the artist and the Givis Collection.

OTP Who are some of the artists you think about most frequently?

JE I love the impressionist artists. Artist that work directly from nature are always incredibly inspiring.


Because of the ability to, you know, see the same things we see, but understand that they have a different interpretation. How they interpret that and the skill that they do it with is interesting.

OTP Where does your interest in the 'instructional video’ as a format come from?

JE When I was a kid I loved Bob Ross and I always thought it would be good to have a new Bob Ross.

The main difference between him and myself is I teach a classical approach to how to paint from life where as he taught his manner of painting which was, you know, unique to him.

The main people, or main reason people like him is because of his personality, so I just kind of bug out on mine and tried it make it funky to watch. I'm really not that funky in real life.

I made some and they would sell my painting so it was kind of like promotional videos for my art and I would like to keep on making them but I always need help because I'm not very good at editing.

But if when these stupid people like vice or something would get off their ass and actually follow through on anything you know I think it would be a good thing for the world.


Because you know it's keeping classical painting alive and it's kind of a lost art expression with the way everything's going so big tech on us.


^ Jesse Edwards, Mickey TEED Off, 2015, Under and over glazes on stoneware, 28 x 25.5 x 6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Vito Schnabel.

OTP What about your interest in ceramics? How did that develop?

JE I started doing ceramics after I was introduced to a gentleman who is making ceramic machine guns. That art critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer introduced us and he taught me his technique.

OTP What do you like to do when you're not making work?

JE I try to figure out how to make money buying and selling stocks. I enjoy that - it's interesting to me.


I am still down $2150 but I've come back from quite a loss and I don't know it's just a challenge for me.


OTP Do you read books?

JE Now I'm not a big reader. The last book I read was an audio book about Self Help I think.


And those are actually pretty helpful because I would do stupid mistakes and then I realized that I'm just being stupid so it helped me to change my behavior.

OTP Are you an moral person?

JE I don't know? I work for a living I'll tell you that.


^ Jesse Edwards, Still Life with Red Skate Board, 2012. Oil on linen. 81.5 x 86.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Vito Schnabel.

OTP Do you keep examples of your older work around?

JE I do not keep old paintings around. I've sold everything I own except for like 45 paintings and my mom has some of my early paintings from this student ages.


I constantly have to find different places to live so I travel very lightly

OTP What are the essentials that you travel with?

JE Well the essential that travel with are about 4 pairs of pants some T-shirts and my paint brushes and art supplies.


Luckily I was able to sell a gang of paintings and I have enough money to eat and stuff so I'm not too worried, but that's about all I have.

OTP What do you think would be a good interview question to end on?

JE That's a good question, how about "Why is Boeing stock not doing what I want it to do?" lol...


^ Jesse Edwards, Peace, Love and Happiness, 2015, Oil on linen, 112 x 91.5. Courtesy of the artist and the Givis Collection.

See more from Jesse Edwards:



Jesse Edwards' exhibition history includes: Blacksheep, NO Gallery, Los Angeles (2020; solo), Painting is Painting's Favorite Food, South Etna, Montauk (2020; group), House of Cards, Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles (2019; solo), Pot Shop 2, Ed. Varie, New York (2019; group). 

Selected Publications:

Jesse Edwards, 2015. Text by Alison M. Gingeras and David Rimanelli. New York: Vito Schnabel, edition of 300.