Artists of Glenn: Jesse Nylund and the Reclamation of Self


“Reclamation of Self”

Otto-Alejandro, Editor-In-Chief

At the start, the canvas was blank. After simple instructions, it wasn’t much more than an assignment for a class. But a year down the line, the canvas became a place of self expression and self love, an escape for senior Jesse Nylund to put out all of the beautiful colors and images in his head. Although this artistic journey has been a long process for Nylund, it all began in art teacher Monica Patterson’s classroom, a place many students find comfort in and discover their artistic talents.

“I had this student who hadn’t done a whole lot of work for a while in my painting class, but then he made this really amazing painting of frozen yogurt for a project,” Patterson said. “It looked exactly like the photo he based it on, and I felt like all of a sudden, he was showing what he was really capable of.”

This sudden show of talent and passion on Nylund’s part led him to a spot on the next local art competition, and with that, a prize medal. 

“If I’m being honest, I really had no idea what I was doing with that frozen yogurt painting,” Nylund said. “Since then, I’ve been studying how to do this and I’m much more proud of this next work.”

As astonishing as his depiction of frozen yogurt was, Nylund’s current project is much more ambitious and eye-opening into him as an artist. A renaissance-inspired oil painting with the artist himself as the main subject, Nylund has been working on the project for months, a result of deep research and love put into the piece.

“There’s tons of planning, making paintings like this with the traditional method requires tons of sketches,” Nylund said. “You have to plan out all the symbolism, and you work in layers, so it can take a really long time to wait for all of those layers to dry before you can get things done. Oil paint is transparent, and you use that so you can see all of the layers together like you are painting on multiple layers of glass and sticking them all together. That’s how you get that gem-like effect, and how you get that subtle shift.”
These features of the oil paint Nylund uses all add to the experience and meaning of the painting. 

“The thing with the skin is that people have green undertones in their skin,” Nylund said, “so you start green and build off of that. You leave the green exposed, in layers.”

This single detail is emblematic of the care and meticulousness put into every inch of the painting. From the bird at the bottom to the landscape outside the window, there’s always something more to be seen. As far as the overall message goes, there’s an aura of self-exploration and discovery at play. This especially applies to the title of the piece. 

“The piece is called ‘The Reclamation of the Self’ because it’s all about self discovery and the conquering of the fear of being yourself,” Nylund said.

One of the most poignant pieces of imagery tying to the theme is the head of a crocodile lying at a table next to the subject, with Latin text written on the tableside. 

“It means ‘to each his own, dead head’,” Nylund said. “It’s because of the dead alligator head, which is supposed to represent fear.”

No matter how complex the imagery, Nylund is clear about his intentions as to impact on the viewer. 

“What I want people to feel when they look at that painting is confidence in themselves,” Nylund said. “It’s all about the conquering of fear and what I want people to look at this painting I want them to not be afraid of what they are.”

Jesse Nylund poses with his newest oil painting.