I am extremely delighted and honestly, honored to introduce you to my friend Jackie Graham. While I really do love writing Perfect 10 SF and sharing my style, feelings, and adventures in parenting, my most favoritest part about my blog is having the opportunity to highlight amazing and truly inspiring women. I was so delighted to meet Jackie after hearing so many wonderful things about her from my friends Natalie and Ann from when they were all colleagues at Sephora.

Each time I see one of Jackie's pieces pop up on my Instagram feed I am taken aback my her sheer talent. I love her subjects and composition and most of all, love her playfulness. Her pieces just make me so happy and she is incredibly chic and unlike anyone I have met before.

If you are not already in love with her after seeing her water color works and headshot, then fair warning, you will be utterly smitten with her after reading today's q & a with her. I won't go on anymore because I am trying to play it cool so that she doesn't think I am too obsessed with her and cancel our May coffee date :)

1. What is the first thing you remember making? How old were you? What was it? Etc.

 Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. My dad likes to tell people that at age two I would sit on the floor with a pair of scissors, cutting out perfect circles -- a nod to my type-A personality ;) I was lucky enough to have two creative parents who really believed in cultivating that part of my personality, so I was in art classes as young as kindergarten working with every medium from colored pencils and pen & ink to mixed media and clay.

2. Who are some women who have influenced you as a person? As an artist?

 There are so many! But to name a few…

My mother, as a person and an artist. She’s such a strong individual with an incredibly kind soul who has always encouraged me to follow my heart and stay true to myself.

My great aunt, a creative spitfire with such joie de vivre! I don’t know what is more inspiring – her stunning interior design or her writing. Whatever creative endeavor she takes on, the outcome is a beautiful narrative; she’s a gifted storyteller with words, space, art… everything really. There’s something so very accessible and human about her work across all mediums.

My wonderful girlfriends who run the gamut of everything from tech PR mavens to photographers. Not only does their tangible work provide constant inspiration, but their support keeps me going through down times.

And a never-ending list of female artists: figures who have paved the way for women in art like Georgia O’Keefe and Leigh Miller, and contemporaries who bring exciting new vision like CJ Hendry, Gretchen Röehrs, Cheryl Humphries, and my local Heather Day.

3. What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

 I think something that makes me unique as an artist is my artistic motivations. While many artists really value their alone time in the studio and the internal creative process, I am driven by external connections that my artwork creates. That can be dialogue about a completed work with a stranger or an exchange about a client’s vision for a custom commission, or even the moment when I get to hand off the final piece to it’s buyer. I love learning why the subject chosen holds meaning for the individual.

4. What is your process for creating a new piece?

 First and foremost inspiration must strike! Whether it’s a personal project or a custom commission, I only take on new work if it’s something that excites me. That might be because it’s a subject or technique I’ve never done before or a concept I love or the situation just feels right.

 From a technical standpoint, with my realistic pieces I sketch everything out in pencil first. Graphite drawing pencils, #2, mechanical pencils even… the only material that I am picky about is my paper (which is cold pressed Arches in bright white). From there, I start to lay down the watercolor paint. I use small pieces of scratch paper to test all my colors and opacity before laying it down. Realistic watercolor painting really requires careful planning and attention to detail since you can’t really paint over any “mistakes.”

 If I’m doing a commission, I like to send my client progress pictures so they can be part of the process. That’s my favorite part – creating a connection with my patrons.

5. What advice do you have for other women who want to do something creative?

 Just do it!

 As a perfectionist I all too well understand the fear of starting something new; it’s easy to get in your head and ask yourself why should I create when there are so many talented individuals out there. But just try not to go there (and if you do, work on letting it go).

 When you’re the type of person who needs to create, you do it for yourself. Remember that you have nothing to prove to anyone else.

Thank you to Jackie for letting me interview her and share her work on here! It is such an honor!

Learn more about Jackie on her site and be sure to check out her Instagram