Coffee and Rebecca Jacob’s Figurative Painting Skills

Rebecca Jacob earned her BFA at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She has also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts in New York, the Art Students League of New York, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. I picked her brain on her own art practice and thoughts about the commercial art world. Rebecca’s artwork can be found online at

raspberry jam and java


Paul Weiner:

How do you choose a subject for a series of work? For instance, how did you happen upon coffee as a motif?

Rebecca Jacob:

Ah, the hardest question to answer! Prior to my coffee art phase, I brought in a painting to show a gallery director. His mot to me was, “you’re cute but you need to find a gimmick.”

At that time Starbucks was new, and coffee shops were just starting to become popular – hence the inception of my coffee art series. I even painted with actual coffee! Recently, I am focusing on reproducing, on linen, plant life and landscapes from my personal world. I also love literature, despite my extreme lack of writing skills. I pull from various sentences, stanzas, poems, etc. to use to title my paintings.

the morning repast

tea with sugar and cream

perhaps solitude is your preference

Paul Weiner:

Let’s talk about the landscapes and nature, then. Do you prefer to paint en plein air or in your studio? Also, do you find photography and other digital advances like Photoshop to be a useful tools or simply annoying crutches for figurative painters.

Rebecca Jacob:

I love the concept of painting en plain air but I can never seem to set aside the time. Hence, the photos in my studio where I can work at night. I use my own photos, but do not use photoshop.  Whereas it saves an artist time to use crutches, I try not to because my drawing skills suffer if I do.

Ireland Storm


Are the Tulips too Excitable_10x10_oil on belgian linen

Paul Weiner:

Do you find, as a figurative artist, that the commercial art world has become overly focused on abstraction?

Rebecca Jacob:

With regard to the commercial world of art, don’t get me going! Art is now completely about monetary investment; if a gallery of note says it’s valuable, then it is. Art is stock for investment, nothing more. Artists seems to justify their work in saying that it is there to convey a message, but art, especially art that needs to be explained, is not the best way to convey a message.

Any element of the aesthetic has become irrelevant; this is now expected from the current fashion in the art world. Any skill involved in creating art is also irrelevant, indeed frowned upon, as old fashioned and therefore unworthy. The two basic tenets of what constitutes good art are now ignored. This is why people get away with posing as artists, and the world believes them. I feel that the figure is the hardest element to draw and paint, and should be conquered first and foremost before venturing on.

Paul Weiner:

Do you view your work as conceptual or intuitive?

Rebecca Jacob:

My work is both conceptual and intuitive depending on the day and my mood.

Paul Weiner:

Interesting. I would imagine that most people would find your work worthy of merit in an academic setting in terms of skill. So, would you say that your concepts are driven more by the commercial art world or your own curiosities?

Rebecca Jacob:

I have to admit I am driven by the commercial art world. Who doesn’t want to be a successful artist, especially after the 1980’s!  On the other hand, I also am driven by my own curiosities.




Paul Weiner:

Take us through the material process you use as a painter. What materials do you like to paint on and with?

Rebecca Jacob:

I generally work small, so I can afford to use the best quality canvas and paint. I have had several mishaps with low quality oil paint chipping off. I also love to work in oil due to the history of it and the lasting power of oil.

Paul Weiner:

Oil painting is certainly a traditional technique. Do you see your style as being rooted in history? Perhaps you could name a few artists who you’ve found influential.

Rebecca Jacob:

I have always been drawn to artists via their stories more than their actual work. For example, take Jackson Pollock. I enjoy reading about his life more than his actual work. Although, when I visited his studio this past fall, I found that I do love his work. I have been obsessed with the lives of artists in Paris from when Paris was the center of the art world. On visiting Paris, I was more interested in finding their haunts and residences than viewing their works. Currently I am drawn to Johannes Vermeer after reading girl with a pearl earring. I also am fascinated with how he created and ground his own colors and the materials they used back then. I currently am trying to use the colors he used in his palette.

Display Blooms Sublime, 20x20, oil on belgian linen



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