Beauty grows out of adversity, and that’s exactly what happened with Wickford-based oil painter Alexandra Jedrey. The pandemic proved a turning point for her art career. Faced with time to fill because of the shutdowns, she decided to stir up some proverbial lemonade and offer her paintings for sale for the first time. “It came from a completely horrible time, but something really great grew from it,” says Jedrey.
The first year, she launched her website and focused on online sales. For her second, she applied to be part of the Wickford Art Festival. When they accepted her, it was the realization of a childhood dream. “I grew up in the area. I’ve been going every year since I was little and it was always this far-fetched, glamorous thing. It’s kind of surreal to be participating in it now.”
Jedrey arrived at the University of New Hampshire an undeclared major, but when she took her first art class there, “I thought, yup, this is where I’m supposed to be.” She went on to get her master’s in education, becoming an art teacher when she returned to Rhode Island, but left her teaching career in 2021 to focus on her art full time.
Jedrey’s beautiful oil paintings of shells local to the shores of Rhode Island – filled with an ocean of seaworthy colors and textures, since her tool of choice is a pallet knife – dazzled art buyers at last year’s Wickford Art Festival. “I didn’t quite realize how high stakes it was,” she says of the festival’s impact on her art career. Her appearance led to booking more summer art festivals, as well as ongoing sales and direct commissions for long after, enough that she was able to quit her day job.
Shells are a recent focus for Jedrey. At first, her work hewed more traditional, doing portraits and then landscapes inspired by her extensive travels. But when she returned to Rhode Island and had to fill a wall above her bed, she decided to do it with a triptych of mussels. “I love the versatility and the colors,” she explains. Her mom loved it, too, and requested a painting, which led to friends, then friends of friends, asking for their own shell-inspired works.
The shells also are a boon on the festival circuit. “I personally love painting them,” she says, but notes that the smaller size of her canvases gives the art a more accessible price point, especially to first-time buyers.
“There’s a culture of collecting art that’s very highbrow and elite, and it doesn’t have to be,” she says. “If you like something, if you think it would look good in your home, if you enjoy looking at it, if you like the colors, if it makes you happy, just go for it. Because every time you see it in your house, it’ll bring back that feeling.” Learn more at AlexandraJedreyArt.com
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