Jessica Damsky (@jessicadamsky) melds the imagery of ancient myth with the modern seamlessly. Her visual vocabulary is rich in history, her skill as a draughtsman indisputable, yet she tempers these traditional skills with ruthless dry humor and a sly feminist touch in a way that’s refreshingly raw and straightforward. Don’t underestimate the grip of vagina dentata.

“I use my sketchbook extensively for working out ideas for paintings,” says Damsky. “Often after doing a sketch, I will realize that my idea is really stupid. I needed to sketch it out in order to come to terms with that. Other times I will obsessively do sketch after sketch, trying to figure out a good composition for an idea. For example, I have been trying to come up with a good composition for a harpy. I haven’t really come up with one yet. But I have so many sketches of harpies.”

Our lady of the sanitary hands. Burn off the Covid. Be clean.
Martyr in the wilderness with rocks
This became a painting. Noli me tangere.
Medusa holding all the shattered fragments of a man.
Medusa study
Covid spring break asshole kids as bacchanales. The one on the news was all, If I get Corona, I get Corona!” It occurred to me that they are just like the orgies from the Titian painting. I think I am super clever, but who would want a painting of theses stupid kids? Not me.
Jesus lizard lady. I realized how dumb of an idea this is, upon seeing the sketch. Did not make it into a painting.
A nice young man being eaten by a pitcher plant. Allegory of the dangers of vaginas or something.
Based on Ancient Greek pottery painting of Prometheus tied up getting eaten by an eagle. This was around the time Kavanaugh’s confirmation. I was so pissed off.
Clam attack!
Idea for a seven celestial spheres type painting, and I was pretty pissed that someone close to me said they believe in the flat earth bullshit. This is the flat earth, with the sun that shines only on the US, and fetus angels, and god as a dove with a bomb. I am glad I got these ideas out in a sketch without making it into a painting.

“I’ve been teaching beginning drawing for maybe eight years now,” says Damsky. “I do a day when I teach them about portraiture and make them model for each other. The last 20-minute pose of the day I use my sketchbook and draw one of them. Sometimes I’ve been teaching six classes per quarter, So I probably have 50-100 drawings of students. I have these memories of my professors, where they have made a huge impact on me and the trajectory of my work. It’s kind of surreal now being a professor myself, and seeing the students back where I was so long ago.”

“Doodles on everything, even though I am an adult.” —Damsky

This was in grad school. I had a critique by one of my favorite artists, Julie Heffernan. Among her advice: I was “trying too hard to be clever, but the content is not as deep as the clever surface. There’s nothing worse than an artist that promises to be clever but never delivers.”

By Amanda

Amanda Manitach is a Seattle-based artist who works primarily in the medium of drawing, merging text with pattern, working aspects of the visceral, dirty, humorous, and sublime into pieces made painstakingly over time. In addition to exhibiting locally and nationally, she worked as Visual Arts Editor at City Arts Magazine for six years, served as curator of Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University (2013-15), and co-founded and co-directed multiple mixed-use arts spaces in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, including TMRW Party and The Factory. She is represented by Winston Wächter Seattle and New York.

She loves to peep on artists' sketchbooks.

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