Artist pours herself into creating, teaching

Jessica Schwantes Greve is pictured along with several of her acrylic pour paintings. (Photo courtesy Jessica Schwantes Greve)

Jessica Schwantes Greve’s business, Tree Ring Art, has been gaining attention over social media since she began posting a year ago.

Greve, who lives near Lewisville, specializes in acrylic pour painting.

According to her Facebook page, Greve describes the art form as an innovative way to use acrylic paints to create an art piece. Instead of using brushes or knives, fluid paints can be poured directly onto the surface, with the canvas tilted to move the paint around.

Pouring paints allows the colors to blend naturally as they come in contact. This technique can be done either one color at a time, or with multiple paints to maximize color blending.

Her business, Tree Ring Art, is named after her favorite technique of pour, which creates a piece that resembles lines around a tree stump.

Her Instagram page — tree_ring_art — hit 20,000 followers this week. She said most people tend to like the time-lapse videos that she posts of herself doing a new pour.

“I think people find the videos satisfying — I hear that word used a lot — to watch the paint fall out,” Greve said.

She first discovered acrylic pour painting while attending another art class at Ann’s Emporium in Madelia, after she saw some acrylic pour pieces on display there. She began researching it in January 2018 but it took her a month before she decided to try it.

Greve, who had always done sketches and other drawings for fun throughout her life, explained why she likes acrylic pour painting better.

“You can sit there and agonize over details when you’re sketching because you want it just right,” she said. “With this, you have no control over it. There’s science behind some of the steps that you can use to make it come out a certain way, but at the end of it, you have no control. It’s such a freeing form of art.”

Greve said many people struggle when starting out, so she did a lot of research on techniques and what products are best, and what additives to try.

“I watched hours of videos on it and my kids teased me that I was obsessed with it, but I get interested in something and then I want to figure it out,” she explained.

“I started putting out some nice pieces in a short period of time and shared them with people (on Facebook), and then I was asked to teach classes, so I started doing home parties. My first party was April 7 of last year,” Greve said.

Greve has been offering private home parties, parties for businesses, teaching classes at the Makerspace in Mankato and teaching classes through eight different Community Education and Recreations programs, including in Fairmont, New Ulm and St. Peter.

The materials Greve uses include acrylic paint, a pouring medium and then a base such as canvas, tile or wood. She has made decorative wall hangings, coasters and has even used skins of her pours to make jewelry.

Greve works from home as a programmer for a medical paging service based in Denver. She has been doing that for almost 15 years but has cut down on hours to make more time for her art, although she does not see herself giving up her day job. She mostly teaches art classes on evenings and weekends.

As her business has been getting a lot of attention, Greve has found herself receiving some cool opportunities.

“People contact me to use my content in compilation videos. I get a lot of traffic from that,” she said.

Greve partnered with Arteza, an art company, which sends her paint and canvases. She has done a few giveaways with them through her social media pages. She is a Promarine affiliate and she is also an Amazon influencer.

Greve recently teamed with LimbART, an athletic wear company.

“It’s a husband and wife business and they design all of the leggings and shirts using art they create on the computer, but they saw my work and decided they wanted to use it so they got a hold of me, and now my work is printed on leggings and shirts and other wear,” Greve said.

Greve is modest despite the attention her work has received.

“I enjoy it so much. I’m not so concerned with the number of followers I have. What I’m doing is for me. At the end of the day I want to come home and still love what I’m doing,” she said.

While she does not have an Etsy page or a way to sell her pieces, she plans to eventually do something.

“I know my family would like it if I stopped taking up all of the space in the family room,” Greve said with a laugh.

She will teach a regular acrylic pour painting class though Fairmont CER on May 9 and a beach-themed class July 11. Anyone interested can register through Fairmont CER by calling (507) 235-3141.

“Teaching classes is good for me,” Greve said. “For the last 14 years, I’ve worked at home by myself, and I have a big family so I’m always with my kids, but now I get to work with adults. Teaching is the best feeling. People come in and are nervous but as soon as the paint falls out if their cups, everyone’s face just lights up and it’s a good feeling and very rewarding.”

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