Local Artist Paints Portraits During Quarantine

By Zach Mosca

Artist and YSU Alumnus Susan Jacobs painted 19 portraits in a series called “The COVID-19” which she displayed in her own driveway. Photo by Zach Mosca/The Jambar

The COVID-19 pandemic gave many people the opportunity to get in touch with their creative side. Now, Susan Jacobs, an artist from Cortland, is displaying her artwork right in her community.

According to her website, Jacobs is an artist who graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in art and education and a Master of Arts in Teaching secondary degree. She has since gone on to teach art as well as paint her own works in her spare time. 

During the lockdown in March, all of Jacobs’s art classes were canceled. She had to find a way to keep herself busy.

“It was just me in my studio, and I found a good reference of David Bowie and I painted him, and I got a lot of reactions and I sold it on Facebook,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs continued painting portraits of musicians such as Mick Jagger, as well as Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn. Once she’d completed nine portraits, Jacobs had the idea to paint a total of 19 and call the project “The COVID-19.”

Photo by Zach Mosca/The Jambar

When it comes to the people whom Jacobs chooses to paint, she usually looks for those with a strong, vibrant personality or notable facial features. 

“I’ve had suggestions for some that aren’t a really strong personality, so I try to find … some feature that sticks out, like glasses or really strong cheekbones,” Jacobs said.

Because Jacobs’ art received positive feedback on Facebook, she decided to host a public showcase of her art at her house. One guest, Gregg Cancelli, said he feels like Jacobs has a unique style compared to other artists.

“Art is subjective, and I think this style that she’s using just grabbed my attention. I think it’s something really different and really interesting,” Cancelli said. 

Another guest, Michelle Long, said she noticed no two paintings by Jacobs are the same. Long’s favorite work is the portrait of rock singer Tom Petty.

“I’m a huge fan of Tom Petty anyway, but I just love the vibrant colors. I think she captured him well, and it suits the music that he created,” Long said. 

Photo by Zach Mosca/The Jambar

She said she respects Jacobs not only as an artist but as an art teacher. Long believes art students can learn a lot from her.

“She’s not only an amazing artist, but she’s also an amazing instructor. She brings out the best in people who are trying to learn to create,” Long said. 

Even after “The COVID-19” project, Jacobs continues to make portraits and has even taken some requests from friends. These portraits will be part of a series she’s dubbed “Beyond 19.” She began with Paul Stanley from the band KISS and has even more portraits coming soon.

“I’ve got a list of people that people asked me to do, and I have a couple orders, so I’m going to keep on going and have another show someday,” Jacobs said.

All of the paintings shown at Jacobs’ showcase are for sale. The full list of paintings, as well as prices, can be found on her website, www.susanjacobsart.com