Tools & Talismans #3 — Jolie Guillebeau

I began this project for a myriad of reason, but one of the main ones was my fascination with our attachment to the tools that help us do our work, to the flotsam on our work tables or the detritus on our desks after a long day of work.

With each painting I make, I'm struck by the deep love and joy that so many of the contributors feel and express for their tools and talismans. Though we’re often told that we should place less value in our things and more value in the people we love or the experiences we are having in the present {all good advice} — for a Maker, the things that allow us to make our stuff become family and loved ones too.

In this piece, I love how Jolie writes about her paint brush.

These things live in my studio. Tucked in to nooks and crannies, on the altar or the paint cart, I touch these things every day. First, there's a big bright turquoise mug made by my pottery teacher, Wil Labelle. I have a teapot to match, and both are filled with Steven Smith tea at least once a day. I use my mug to hide a smile when a student says something funny, or to create a pause when they need time to think about their artwork. My tea is a ritual, a comfort and a way to keep my hands busy when I need to think. 

The Blackwing pencil (yes, that's a wikipedia article about a pencil!) is tucked behind my ear if it isn't in my hand. I use it for quick sketches, or to find an angle on a particularly difficult subject. The eraser is removed when I'm teaching, because I want my students to make strong confident strokes, and commit to their drawings. By removing the eraser, I'm showing that I'm willing to do what I've asked of them.

That little bouncy ball is a metaphor for where I am right now. I've been feeling like a bouncy ball in a small room, finding my limits and looking for space. It sits on my painting cart to remind me that the doors will open. And the hippo is an eraser version of William, unofficial mascot of the Met Museum. His message is of legacy and a reminder that our work lasts far longer than we expect it to. 

Kiehl's lip balm in mint, a pincushion with embroidery thread, and my trusty red timer round out the vignette. Of course, I couldn't forget a paintbrush. This sable brush sits on one of my own brush bowls. It was an unexpected way to integrate my two loves — painting and pottery. I made this bowl for balancing my brushes when working in watercolor. The bristles are protected and it's another chance to use something I love.

Jolie Guillebeau, artist, teacher, perpetual learner


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I’m documenting {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — a new painting will post every Wednesday.