Updated: Jan 29, 2021
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF STUTTERING OVER THE LATEST HIPA IN OUR PROJECT X SERIES, you aren't alone. The beer even has members of our staff befuddled. Wikipedia defines Pyrokinesis as "the purported psychic ability allowing a person to create and control fire with the mind." Sounds pretty intriguing. Typically used by superheroes of the Phoenix Force (Marvel Comics) and other animated characters, they could use cosmic flames to incinerate planets, or to bathe a planet in their cosmic radiance, giving it new life. Of course, there is no conclusive evidence that pyrokinesis is a real phenomenon, but hey, it sure does make for a cool looking beer label. So, what was the impetus for the depiction of such an event? The answer to that starts with Jessica Tookey.
A boise-based artist, formerly of the (now closed) Swell Collective, Jessica's work jumped out at us and she insisted that she wanted to create something special for the release. She was planning a hiking trip in Southern Utah during the spring/summer that she thought may provide some inspiration. Boy, was she right.
Q: Where did the inspiration for Cosmic Pyrokinesis come from? What typically inspires your work?
A: While visiting Bryce canyon in Utah, I fell in love with the trees that had been struck by lightning. At least that is what our "mule train" guide said was the cause of the twisting. He said that it's as if the lightning literally wrings the moisture out of the trees. I have always been a bit obsessed with trees that are gnarly and twisted (I even have one tattooed on my arm) so these trees SANG to me. They called to me to photograph them for future projects. I am in the midst of completing the first of my "Oneness" series. These include a tree and the female figure (also part of my tattoo) - the painting created for Cosmic Pyrokinesis was just perfect timing. As soon as I was contacted by you guys at Mother Earth, I knew one of those trees would look amazing on a label. Then, after brainstorming with my boyfriend, he suggested I actually show the lightning strike the tree...this was a test to see if I could paint light. I've had other paintings that I hadn't created yet because I wasn't sure I could pull it off. Something about painting light scared me.
I am inspired by everything around me. The beauty, and what some may consider ugliness, of this earth always provides new ideas. Even a plastic bag dancing on the breeze is art to me (of course, I catch it and recycle it after watching the dance...if I can). The hardest part is deciding which idea I should paint first. Sometimes, I am "pushed" by the universe to hurry up and paint something (as happened with Cosmic Pyrokinesis and another tree painting from Utah called "Believe"). Those Utah trees were exactly what I had been waiting for to get me moving on my tree project. Sometimes, I am woken up in the middle of the night with an idea so strong that I have to either write it in my journal or get to work on it. I have a journal full of ideas...and even more in my head that occasionally combine into one new thing. Now, as I travel the US for the second year in my RV, I am finding new locations and new inspiration. Having a home and studio on wheels is the greatest way to explore this beautiful country and be able to work anywhere, anytime. Although, the first year of travel was a lot more play than painting. I am feeling a push to paint...and paint a lot. Sometimes, it is hard to balance that creative push with life.
I am also inspired by the great masters - and some of the new artists of today. Salvador Dali paintings have always spoken to me. Another favorite is Wolfgang Widmoser (who I had the pleasure of meeting while on a volunteer trip to Bali with my daughter). Wolfgang actually studied under Dali, so it was a Divine meeting indeed. He looked at my work and said, "you are going to be famous." I almost cried hearing those words come out of his mouth. I was just finding my groove when I met him...I would love to see what he would say today, 5 years later. I know I still have a long way to go - but I continue to refine my work with each new project.
Q: You create a wide array of art. Can you explain a little about your methods and creative process?
A: Honestly, it all comes down to my mood and what I feel like creating. I have been trying to find my voice for all of my life and I think that my art reflects that, to some extent. Especially my most recent work (from 2018 to now) which is much more expressive. Recently I have been using a lot more actual texture on my canvases, building up with gesso or modeling paste (I even have one where I've sculpted faces onto the canvas) and then painting over that. Allowing many layers to show through. Prior to these, my work leaned toward photorealism. I often create whatever my clients' dream (literally and figuratively). I am always asked "what kind of art do you do" and I say "I can draw, or paint, absolutely anything you can imagine." I have been blessed with an endless well of creativity to amaze, enlighten and inspire. Whether left handed, right handed, or both hands at the same time, I bring my clients' visions to life. My paintings of motorcycles and my water series are fan favorites and I'd love to do more of those...but I also want to paint some extremely striking portraits full of light and shadow. I do a lot of memorial portraits (both human and pet) - many during the holidays as well as for my Words Matter exhibit (a mental health and suicide awareness exhibition) which travels with me...but I have yet to show it anywhere besides Idaho. Perhaps next year is the year...there haven't been too many art shows in 2020. And, of course, I want to paint a lot of trees.
My mind is so full of ideas. It never stops creating visions. Since I often have a hard time deciding what to work on, I typically have numerous projects going at once. This keeps me from getting bored with one subject or medium. Some people (other professional artists and even a few curators) have told me I should focus on one area - really hone my skills - but I am inspired by so many things that I find it impossible to stick to portraits, or landscapes, or automobiles, or animals, or....the list could go on and on. I would never sleep because I'd be working to "hone" one of the skills SO MUCH to become an expert on the one subject just so I could move on to the next, and repeat the honing again. That doesn't sound enjoyable at all for me. As it is, when I get in to a project, it is hard to pull away. I have the ability to hyper-focus and block out everything (including the need to eat). I am thankful that I have someone to make sure that I eat.
Q: What type of media are you typically working with and was this piece any different?
A: I used acrylics for this piece, they are my main medium but I often do portraits in pastels and a variety of strange things in ink. I mainly use the ink for my two handed "simultaneous ambidextrous" drawings that I occasionally do live on social media (part of my "Wabi Sabi" series which now has over 400 drawings in it). That's another story though. I absolutely love oil painting but, I needed to create some paintings quickly when I launched my art career in 2015, so I began to play with acrylics.
Honestly, prior to 2015, I really did not like working with acrylic paints but like I said, I needed to put together an exhibit very fast so I had to learn to love them. Now, I have used them so much that I've fooled some oil painters into thinking I DID paint with oils. Acrylics are my favorite to work with because I feel like they are the most forgiving. I occasionally do oils and watercolor but acrylic is definitely easiest to correct mistakes in. I am a bit of a perfectionist in my work...although, since beginning my Wabi Sabi series, I have loosened up a lot. I do miss the luminous quality of oils, but they are too toxic for a 29' home and studio space. Perhaps, once I decide to have a home and studio again that is planted instead of on wheels, I can get back into oils, but for now - flexible, non-toxic mediums are my go to.
Q: Did you encounter any challenges while creating Cosmic?
A: My only challenge was working amidst my adventures and numerous other projects. It is hard to not just go play every day. Hard to sit and work when there are new places to discover. I am slowly getting into the groove though...I think. I am definitely finding more time to work on other projects (I'm writing a book helping guide people out of suicidality into loving life, I do graphic design work, I teach part time online, and I have new products and services I feel called to provide for a variety of clients). Now, I just need to get back into the studio and get my "Oneness" series moving because that is only one of many things I want to paint right now.
Q: Have you ever worked on a project similar to Cosmic?
A: I can't say that I have ever done anything like Cosmic unless you count commercialized products such as book covers, t-shirts, logos, signs, etc. I have never created anything for the food or beverage industry. I absolutely loved this project. Plus, my boyfriend LOVES craft beers so doing something that he was excited about was a lot of fun. I hope that I will get to do more with you in the future! Perhaps, I'll even meet some other breweries in my travels and I'll have beer labels all over the globe. But it all started at Mother Earth. So, thank you! I really enjoyed seeing my work on a beer label and, drinking it too.
The majesty doesn't end at the can art, however. Get past the aluminum canvas and you will find an exemplary NE Hazy IPA that's high protein malts, creating a soft mouthfeel and characteristic haze which is accentuated by the omission of any colored or caramel malts to ensure it remains hop-focused. Oats and German Pale Wheat Malt add a light cracker-like flavor. The hop profile remains fruity with light citrus and tropical notes reminiscent of mixed berries, pineapple, and orange zest. Calcium chloride is added to accentuate palate fullness.
Cosmic Pyrokinesis is rolling out now and available via our network of reputable craft beer retailers as well as our Nampa and Vista breweries. Use our interactive Beer Finder to locate it near you. For more info on Jessica and her work, feel free to visit her website.
Tags: Craft Beer, Beer Release, Art, Project X, Hazy IPA