Photos by Asia Morris.
There are the artists who show their work regularly, who sit readily in the public eye because they've been honing and professing the significance of their art for years. Then there are the budding artists who sit hidden behind their drafting desks, hunched over with a paintbrush or pencil in hand, bright-eyed and moved by a certain will to create, but fairly unsure of why they're even doing it.
Jessica Weymouth, a Bakersfield-native turned Long Beach local, moved to the city three years ago to pursue a career in dabbling. Not all who wander are lost, as J. R. R. Tolkien once said, and sometimes the wondrous amusements we pick up while distracted can become the most fruitful of pastimes.
Just over a year ago, Weymouth began painting with watercolors. "To be honest, I just had some lying around," she said with a shrug.
The first thing she painted was a moon, a circular mess of a puddle that actually looked pretty cool to the friends who were given a chance to see her initial pieces. And while her abilities were clearly in a nascent stage, she took their encouragement in stride.
It’s been one year since she began painting, and already she can be described as a self-taught creative, whether she confidently identifies with the title or not.
"I found one of my first pieces the other day and wanted to throw it away," she said. "I remember thinking when I made it, 'This is so cool I need to hang on to this one.' And then I found it recently and I thought, 'Where can I burn it?'"
Since Weymouth moved closer to the ocean with the sound of the waves at night a constant reminder of the moon’s effect, her work reflects a growing fascination with the celestial body and a curiosity for distant planetscapes in general.
"I met this old guy the other day and he was looking at my art and he said, 'You know it's really cool, I've never met someone in my whole life [who] gets to make up their own planets and their own moons,'" said Weymouth.
The artist doesn't quite make a living with her work, but with a social media prowess akin to a generation who witnessed the birth of the iPhone, she found a way to have free, high-quality watercolors sent straight to her door.
And as evidenced by her Instagram @jessweymouth_, it's not only her art that draws an online crowd, it's the free bird lifestyle of "making it," so to speak, as someone with myriad interests and an inability (or practicality) to just choose one. And why should anyone have to choose?
Along with working weekends at Kafe Neo, Weymouth also takes classes at Long Beach City College, but not directed toward any particular major.
She truly is a dabbler, and mentioned she might open a bed and breakfast someday— a not-too-surprising thought, considering her job at a favorite local eatery has made her feel more at home now than ever. She says people recognize her as "that girl from Kafe Neo" all the time.
"I go to work and I serve Zeus Fries all day and then I make my art," she said. "It's a perfect balance. Every night I come home to paint and I think, 'This will all make sense one day. Maybe.'"
Whether or not it makes sense, one day or another, at least Weymouth didn't question her need to paint from the get-go, because her work has become something quite interesting in a mere 12 months. Perhaps it's a lesson for those of us stalling to delve into our creative sides to get a move on because you never know what might blossom from sticking just a toe outside your comfort zone.
"You know when you're doing something that you really enjoy and all of a sudden, three hours later, you blink and you think, 'Where did the time go?'" Weymouth said with a smile. "That's what it feels like when I'm painting, all of a sudden it's three o'clock in the morning."