Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jessica Smit Mattingly and I am a figurative realist oil painter.
Where are you from?
I’m from Dyer, IN.
How did you get started?
I majored in fine art at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. After college, I taught English in Japan for 3 years. When I got back to the States, I studied representational drawing and painting at The School of Representational Art in Chicago. I have been painting and teaching art ever since.
Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?
I teach art to kids, teens, and adults in group classes and private lessons at my home in Dyer, IN. I do art commissions such as portraits and murals. I also work part-time at The Great Frame Up in Homewood, IL. I love to travel and go to art museums and galleries.
What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?
As an artist, it’s easy to get isolated and discouraged in your work. I’ve learned to really value the importance of an artistic community and network.
What are the top tools you need to do your job?
I use a lot of traditional art materials: oil primed linen canvas, gesso primed panels, paper, charcoal, graphite pencils, pastels, oil paint, brushes. I also have a digital SLR camera for photographing models when I am unable to work from live models. And of course, the computer is important for the business of marketing.
Who or what inspires you and why?
I am inspired by so many amazing painters throughout history as well as painters that are working today. I paint regularly at The Palette and Chisel in Chicago to be surrounded by some great artists.
What do you love about Northwest Indiana?
There are a lot of creative, talented people and opportunities for artists.
What resources are you finding to educate yourself?
I appreciate the very practical business advice of the Art Next Level. I also enjoy seeing and reading about how other artists are working in the Artists on Art magazine. I also like watching demos or taking workshops from artists I admire.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
Keep learning from other artists and improving your skills. Find what makes your art unique and keep going even when it’s difficult. Find a community of artists and mentors to encourage you along the way. Find multiple income streams to support yourself as you pursue your art career.
What’s next for you?
I am working on some new figurative narrative oil paintings and I hope to have a solo exhibition of my new artwork next year.
Where can we find you?
My website is