by Jennifer Hoesing
Florida native Jackie Brice has been painting since 1967. Jackie, who lives in Jupiter, has focused on painting remote wetlands, rivers and forests, preserving their natural beauty with a rare blend of artistry and accuracy. She has studied painting with A.E. Backus and Vela Boss, and is collected by offices of government officials, as well as schools, libraries and museums. Her work has been accessioned to the permanent collections of The White House, U.S. Senator and Mrs. Bob Graham, U.S. Congressman and Mrs. E. Clay Shaw and Burt Reynolds. Jackie is active in her community, encouraging young people in art and ecological preservation. She has been honored with awards and recognition for her art work, and last week was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Jackie took time, via email, to discuss the honor and the ways that art and culture are important to the state she loves.
DCA: Do you remember as your first experience with art? Have you always had a love of painting?
When both of my children started school, I was looking for a hobby. I mentioned this to my friend, an art teacher, and she urged me to come by her garage studio to see what her students were doing. When I walked in and saw all the easels and paintings something moved me. I thought, “you know, I believe I can do this!” I don’t know if it was the smell of the mineral spirits and oils, but I was sold on the idea of trying my hand at it. I never had an inclination at all that I had any talent. I’ve certainly had a love of painting over the 45 years I’ve been painting the Florida landscape.
DCA: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from your teacher, the legendary A.E. Backus?
The first thing Beanie taught me was that in order to paint an authentic landscape, you must study your subject. When I was on location painting, he said to always observe the scene for several minutes. That meant to observe which way the light was coming, how it was hitting a palm frond or the side of an oak tree. He was very willing to share his knowledge, and to this day if I’m in a slough in the Everglades or in a cove on a creek, it’s the light that directs me. That includes moonlight.
DCA: What does induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame mean to you?
I am so humbled by this honor. To think that with the many wonderful artists in this beautiful state, I was chosen to receive this honor… It is like a dream and I haven’t woken up. I’ve painted Florida for more than 45 years, from the Keys to the St. Marks Refuge, from the Tomoka River to the Gulf Coast where the Gulf Pines grow down to the water’s edge. It’s truly a dream come true to receive this honor. I’m very grateful.
DCA: The Division of Cultural Affairs believes in the motto “Culture Builds Florida.” What do you think when you hear that phrase? Why do you believe arts and culture are important to our state?
I love this state. It’s my home state. I was born and raised here. I am a firm believer in encouraging children to appreciate the arts at an early age. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to be invited to schools during their “Art Week.” I always choose to introduce the first or second grade to painting. They are so bright. I once asked the little second graders if anyone knew what the word “focal” means. This little girl raised her hand and said “Is it kinda like “focus?” The children are the future and should be introduced to the arts. I believe arts and culture are important to our state because they give our state new life.