The stunningly realised portraiture of Gold Coast artist Jeska Valk explores the complex relationship between humans and the natural world, and takes viewers on an intimate journey inside her subjects. Detailed and textured, her large canvasses project an immediacy and intensity that capture the gaze.
Jeska has achieved the dream of most artists: the flow of commissions has become consistent enough that she is able to concentrate on art full time.
“It really is a dream come true to be a full time portrait artist but it does come with sacrifice, as I spend almost all of my time hiding in my cave (studio) creating,” she says.
“I wouldn’t change a thing though! I love that I get to meet incredible people and hear their stories, and painting them exacerbates that feeling.”
Having the right representation was a crucial step in the transition.
“Finding Art Lovers Australia was serendipitous. We had previously met at one of my exhibitions but it was a year later that we were reacquainted. I signed up with them and the rest is history. Directors Nancy and Jarrod really appreciate the artist, working tirelessly around the clock. They have become great friends and people I admire. I really have a lot to thank them for….constantly.”
And of course, Jeska would not be where she is without the unwavering support of her family.
“The people who support me the most are my husband and my mother. They are always there for me in every way. I feel very lucky.
“My mother is my biggest inspiration. She is amazing. Bringing up myself and my brother herself, she always showed us love and taught us strength, to have integrity and above all she gave us the best childhood. She drew with me, encouraged me as an artist and always helped where she could. She sacrificed so much for us.”
Unsurprising then, that Jeska is so drawn to strong women and their stories. The environment also provides a deep well of inspiration for her, and she holds in high regard, those who seek to make the world a better place.
Deeply personal change has also come about for Jeska as a result of her art.
“When I began creating pieces this intense it was a state of meditation to escape feeling anxious when I would have mild epileptic seizures. It was the only thing in my life that when I focused on painting the tiny detail, distracting myself, it would all just fade away.
“Years later and I am lucky enough to say that in my everyday life those effects have greatly subsided but painting in this manner still has a relaxing almost zen feeling that hours go by and I’m totally unaware.”
The end results of these meditative sessions is nothing short of breathtaking. From a little terror drawing across the walls and scribbling all through her mother’s cookbooks (which her mum still has) to a signed, full time professional artist with her sights set on The Archibald, Jeska Valk is one strong, inspiring woman herself. Self-portrait, perhaps?