By Luke Ebora
Involving both retail work and traditional freelance artistry, the path to teaching for Ms. Jocelyn Grau, one of Loyola’s newest fine arts teachers, has not been the straightforward journey that most young artists dream of, yet she has managed to embrace life’s challenges and balance her passion for the arts and the realities of life.
Having been heavily involved in fine arts, Ms. Grau experienced her first major turning point as an artist during her junior year at Louisville High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. Although she entered the program as a sculptor, she later underwent a change of heart and decided to focus on painting after taking a figure drawing class.
“That class was the beginning of the rest of my life,” said Ms. Grau. “It was a turning point for me stylistically, in how I drew, in how I addressed the media [and]how I thought about art.”
Her experience in high school, she said, is what ultimately pushed her to become an art teacher. Ms. Grau said, “My experience with art in high school was instrumental in everything that came after that.”
Deciding to pursue a career in art, Ms. Grau attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she majored in painting and minored in musicology. After graduating UCLA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting, Ms. Grau worked retail at Blick Art Materials while also continuing to produce art independently. Eventually, she decided to return to school to earn her master’s in studio art at Claremont University. “I kind of hit a wall in my own practice where I had pushed it to a certain point, and it needed to be pushed a little further,” said Ms. Grau.
Life out of college was almost a shock to Ms. Grau, who, while in college, was fully immersed in her art, taking various classes on visual media, interacting with her friends who were also artists, and spending time alone in her studio drawing and painting. “You pretty much only exist in a space where the only goal is to make art,” said Ms. Grau, “ and applying that to the real world feels really strange.”
Feeling somewhat off-kilter, Ms. Grau found herself working once again at Blick Art Materials as the sales manager, a job she said she took “to make life happen.”
Formally trained in the practice of oil painting, Ms. Grau creates extremely large, flat-looking paintings based on the human figure. “They’re really flat on the surface because I want you to enter into their space,” said Ms. Grau.
Influenced by her love of video games and other digital representations, many of her paintings reference two-dimensional media. “I really think that the two dimensional image has a lot of power in our world in general,” said Ms. Grau, noting the phone and television as examples. Unlike most artists trained in the traditional discipline of oil painting, Ms. Grau incorporates vibrant colors into her works that make her pieces seem almost fantastical.
Although Ms. Grau now works as a full-time fine arts teacher, instructing drawing, design and digital photography courses, she continues to draw and paint in her studio located in Pasadena, Calif., creating pieces that are either sold or stored.
Currently, she is not represented by any gallery but is in constant search of one that could exhibit her art in the future. “Art is one of those things that you get more comfortable with the longer you do it,” said Ms. Grau, “but a lot of time you have absolutely no idea where your work is going. So right now it’s like six or seven dots that I’m trying to connect.”
Viewing art as an extended community, Ms. Grau regularly visits the studios of fellow artists and, in turn, hosts artists in her own studio to share recent works and to talk with her peers on topics ranging from art direction to inspiration.
In the future Ms. Grau plans to continue teaching art for a significant amount of time, while continuing to develop her own art on the side. “There’s no reason you can’t do two things at once,” said Ms. Grau. “It would never be an ‘either-or’ thing. I would be both a teacher and a producing artist because teaching gives you a lot of perspective on what you do.”