Our Spotlight on the Arts is shining brightly on Eric Clark Jackson!
We selected Eric as we were so amazed by all of the colorful butterfly flags adorning Downtown Leonardtown near our office, we knew we had to learn more about this artist!
In 2014, Eric began creating wildlife illustrations using wax and dye resist methods. The very first illustrations were of fish caught in the Chesapeake Bay followed in the future by waterfowl drawings. In 2019, our featured artist became involved with public installations, of which most recently has been a project of a large series of native butterfly species in Leonardtown, Maryland.
This banner installation heralded the opening of the new Leonardtown Butterfly Trail and mascot officially opening in July of 2021, with over 50 colorful banners and flags located across town! Working with batik has allowed Eric to create a large number of banners efficiently using twelve different unique butterfly and caterpillar designs.
Eric’s work has traditionally been about a connection to the water through memory and experience, and a desire to know it more deeply. He has always been impressed (and slightly envious!) of naturalists who are able to easily identify a bird or sea creature by a quick glimpse or call. “That encyclopedic knowledge is something I’ve never been able to pull from, but by studying and meticulously recreating each species, I am able to get to know it’s identifying characteristics”.
Mr. Jackson has been very much inspired to create artworks depicting Chesapeake and mid-Atlantic fauna, mainly using aquatic life and waterfowl he encounters while exploring the water. Eric relates that Maryland is sometimes known as “America in Miniature” due to the varied terrain, wildlife, and extensive coastlines. Whenever he finds himself struggling for ideas, he has found that the best option has always been to simply go outside and explore!
What mainly sets Eric’s work apart from other wildlife artists is the fact that his illustrations are created through a full immersion batik processes. This means that colors are applied in layers across the entire piece, as opposed to working piecemeal across a canvas like a traditional painting or colored pencil illustration.
As he generally forgoes a lot of the characteristically intricate line work done with traditional batik, many viewers do a double-take before realizing what it actually is! Batik is an amazing medium to work in, especially for artists such as Eric who states that he struggles with always trying to be a perfectionist with his work.
There are always unexpected outcomes in colors and textures with the batik process; embracing the nature of the imperfections and the unexpected surprises keeps him grounded in his practice, while also pushing him to explore and improve his craft. Even when works don’t come out the way they were originally planned, they usually end up looking pretty awesome!
Eric Clark Jackson also has a Master’s degree in teaching and spent 10 years as a public school art teacher. Still passionate about education, he offers batik classes for students and adults, either online or on location (details at www.bayfibersstudio.com/classes).
Other than his art practice, his main interests are fishing, gardening, and bluegrass music. Eric spends as much time out on the water as time allows, chasing whatever is in the rivers or flying in for the winter. He professes to having a serious problem of growing more seeds than he can ever plant in his garden, which he tries to cultivate using mostly native species and pollinator species. Eric is also a musician and loves to jam to both traditional and contemporary bluegrass and folk music and can fill in when needed on guitar, banjo, bass, and mandolin.
Mr. Jackon’s artwork is available through his website www.bayfibersstudio.com and also at numerous festivals and art fairs throughout the region which he shows at and where he may be met in person. Currently the Leonardtown Butterfly Trail has a large installation of his flags and banners on the light poles and flagpoles across town of which will be on display through the summer of 2021and beyond. Prints can be ordered from the website and custom yard banners are available as well at www.bayfibersstudio.com/bugs
Learn more about our featured artist at the links below:
Website: Bayfibersstudio.com (https://www.bayfibersstudio.com/)
Facebook: facebook.com/bayfibers (https://www.facebook.com/bayfibers)
Learn more about the Leonardtown Butterfly Trail:
Thank you Eric for being a valued part of our community, we love your work and are excited to see your future projects!
Photos of artwork provided by artist. Picture of Eric in collage w/ butterfly flag taken by Brandy Blackstone.