As Jennifer Reaves works on a painting, she feels like she’s being transported somewhere … else. “Whenever I paint, I kind of go into a very different space,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m really on earth. And so I feel like it’s not really anything on a physical plane that I experience through my artwork. It’s more of like, nothing tangible. It’s more emotional and otherworldly to me, in a sense.” Thus she describes her work as “ethereal,” and it comes from deep inside her.
“I paint from emotions, usually. And so when I started Ethereal Art back in late 2018, I was living in Tyler. I kind of felt alone and unable to really express myself,” she said. “And there were a lot of complex emotions that I was trying to process at that time. I had lost my mom two years prior to that. And I kind of let art and music go for a while. I just was in a really dark place in my life. And then I got back into art because that was always my release. There’s a piece that I did called ‘Everything I Meant to Say.’ And it’s just kind of like a blue explosion of different kinds of blues. And a lot of that had to do with just the sadness I was going through. But I felt like I was keeping it inside. It wasn’t really being let out. And so when I got to paint that it came out as an explosion. And so that piece was very cathartic for me.”
After living pretty much everywhere in the state except for West Texas, Reaves is back in Waco and in a much better place. In addition to creating art she works at Guitar Center; has a one-day-a-week gig at Maker’s Edge Makerspace; is mother to two boys, who are 13 and 7; and is in graduate school for clinical mental health counseling at Tarleton State University, through its partnership with McLennan Community College, where she also earned her undergraduate degree in educational psychology.
Reaves, 37, has been making art pretty much her whole life. She prefers working with acrylic paint. In fact, she’s in the process of developing a class for Maker’s Edge in acrylic pouring, in which different colors of paint are poured into a cup, a canvas is placed on top and the whole thing is inverted.
“Just let it loose,” she said. “You manipulate the paint, and it creates all these patterns and shapes and different colors.”
Reaves also plays 12-string acoustic guitar, which she learned from her father. She’s a fan of hard rock and metal, and she enjoys taking music from some of her favorite bands, like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil, and converting it into acoustic covers.
Though she’s both an artist and musician, Reaves said she would much rather be known as a great artist.
“For one thing, I feel like I’m better at art,” she said. “And I feel like art has more meaning to me than music does right now. I love listening to music. I used to love creating it. But art, to me, is more of an abstract kind of thing. And I feel like I express myself better abstractly than through anything else at this point in my life.”
Jennifer Reaves’ artwork has been exhibited in Austin and Tyler, and she’s working on a collaborative piece with Waco artist Julian Rosas. She also has some original paintings and custom candles at Lotus Layne, a hair and spiritual salon on North Valley Mills Drive, and participates in Eastside Market. Reaves’ painting “Resilience” was featured on the cover of a makeup palette from Honeybee Gardens. Her website is EtherealArtByJen.com.