Cayucos Art Association’s featured artist Jacque Brackett wants to set the record straight. She was not a child prodigy, as some promotional copy stated.
“I had in me the DNA of a grandfather, an Illinois artist,” she said. Her parents recognized it and enrolled her in the Art Institute of Chicago when she was 7.
Her parents also ensured that she took cello lessons and that her brother was given music lessons as well. “They certainly weren’t wealthy, but we had exposure in the arts,” she said.
Brackett wanted to major in art when she went to college, but her mother wanted her to focus on education. Brackett ended up with a master’s degree in education, which came in handy when she later taught art.
“We were both right,” she said of her mother and herself.
After moving from Chicago to the Bay Area, she taught art for 12 years, then moved to Cambria 21 years ago, where she began holding private classes in her home.
Actor Nehemiah Persoff was among her students, as was Claire Verbiest, who has made a name for herself in the art world. In fact, Brackett later took a class from this former student.
But it’s the nonfamous people whom Brackett takes the most satisfaction from having taught, such as the 17 Romanian gypsy orphans in Bucharest. The woman who ran the orphanage paid a visit to the Presbyterian church in Cambria that Brackett attends. Brackett went to Bucharest in 2008.
“I had eight fantastic days teaching them,” she said.
Brackett also takes pride in giving art lessons for the past nine years to people who have some sort of physical problem. Brackett has set up exhibits for these students, and some of the works have sold.
“That was a wonderful way to help individuals to raise their self esteem and a way for them to make money.”
Brackett still keeps her hand in producing her own watercolors and oils, including a painting trip to Provence three years ago with former student Verbiest.
Works from that trip are included in the 15 paintings in her show at the Cayucos gallery. She is also showing a watercolor of jazz saxophonist Red Holloway, a Cambria resident. A street musician, an orchard, a beach scene are also among the offerings, as are some of what she describes as “textural abstracts” on crinkled paper.
Her works are in private collections worldwide, including Singapore and Africa.
Brackett uses her own photographs as reference when she paints scenery, enhancing or eliminating details to suit her vision.
For portraits, “I have to paint from life,” she said, “or I don’t get the essence of the person.”