Call of the Valley: Paige Jackson taps again into her talent amid the pandemic

Shelly Frome
Special to Black Mountain News
Paige Jackson

At first, Paige Jackson was at a loss.

Because of the pandemic, gatherings have been canceled throughout the U.S. This meant that her vocation as business manager for her husband John’s unique leaf artistry would be on hiatus. No longer would they be on the road at major shows and galleries from Washington state down to Miami and circling the country time after time.

Instead of periodic stop-offs, the couple would be staying home here in Black Mountain for the foreseeable future.

Instead of panicking, she decided to recapture her innermost spirit. She has a trove of memorable moments she can call on that draw her back to points in her life that run the gamut from joy to periods of darkness into the light.

For example, here is an early moment of her true self:   

“Back on the farm in Hemming, Minnesota,” she said, “I remember doing my first art work  when I was four years old. My mom, who was an artist, sat me down at the dining room table and gave me an oil painting lesson. I still have it framed on the kitchen wall. It was so cool that I could render a scene of a pond and trees. That I could easily make something beautiful.”  

Paige Jackson

Early start

By the time she was in grade school, her talent was recognized by her teachers and classmates alike. Everyone took art classes, but her sketchbooks were deemed special.

“When I looked at things,” she said, “I would frame the image in my mind, how the light was coming in and how the shadows were moving. I would see a scene and imagine painting it.”

She went on to study life drawing and design for one year at Morehead College in Minnesota. But for various reasons, she moved away and was hired to do layout for an Evangelical magazine in Phoenix, Arizona.

Paige also started a temp service in Arizona. She later married John Jackson, who transitioned from the corporate world, vented his “creative wanderlust” and took up the craft of preserving vibrant exotic fossils with Paige acting as administrator. All told, this consuming activity left a gap of 20 years since Paige Jackson had the opportunity to once again actuate the talent she was born with.

And so, after coming to this “screeching halt,” she decided to take the time to align herself, go back to those points in her life when she experienced an emotional block, gauge her present circumstances, and use this perspective to pursue a new path.

Hope amid COVID

Paige Jackson

As it happens, her stepdaughter, who works in an assistant living facility in Phoenix, told her about all the lonely people who were shut in as a result of the virus and asked her to send cards. At the same time, she noted that, in response to the virus, the little prince in England held up his fingers to do a rainbow sign of hope. So she got out her tubes of paint, squirted the colors on a pallet, added crystals, and made handprint cards to send to all of those who were isolated.

“So now,” she said, “I’m going to get out my paints. I have begun to see incredible images in my mind, almost like watching a movie. I want to be able to capture those images.

"In one of them, I saw a horse rising out of the water. It was like its mane came rising up out of the depths of the ocean. It flung its head and the water came streaming out into the sunlight like crystals and diamonds. It was so real to me and such a beautiful horse. And all I could see was the head of the horse.

"I looked up the meaning of the horse, and it was a feminine energy, which I didn’t know. Which was not just me but a collective. It was so incredible, I just have to paint that. And I just happened to have a blank canvas that’s been waiting for me for 20 years.”

Paige also revealed that she’s kept a journal of imagery and stories over these past years, and she’s all set to ride this pandemic through.