Watercolor painter diverts from the norm in her home studio

Watercolor painter diverts from the norm in her home studio

Watercolor painter diverts from the norm in her home studio
September 06
18:44 2017

Cloaked with a vibrant cardigan and a welcoming smile, local artist and UNT alumna Yandira Jester sinks comfortably into a wooden chair at West Oak Coffee Bar.

When she is not mixing paints or creating images with simple brush strokes, Jester sits in coffee shops, spends time with her family and finds new ways to share her love of art.

“I think we all have a story that we can express visually somehow,” Jester said, her eyes twinkling.

Now known for her floral watercolor prints on Instagram, the 29-year-old’s story had a bit of an unclear beginning.

She first began at UNT as a self-proclaimed “unorthodox” pre-med student who desired to be a pediatric oncologist. Taking a few art classes sprinkled in with her difficult science ones, Jester began to stand out among her fellow students in the science program.

“I didn’t want to be like every other pre-med student that majored in biology or chemistry,” Jester said. “I still wanted to major in something that I loved. I’ve always felt that I was going to be an artist, but I went through a lot of different career choices. Like, I wanted to be an anchorwoman and an artist. A lawyer and an artist. A doctor and an artist. It was never one or the other.”

After taking a leadership position on a mission trip to Mexico her sophomore year of college, Jester realized her passion to help children was more artistic than medically-related.

The two different tugs of life pulled Jester to drop pre-med and switch to studying both visual art studies and studio art with a concentration in watercolor, despite many familial pressures.

Painter Yandira Jester freehands a watercolor painting of a fresh floral bouquet in her home studio. Jester prefers watercolor paint because it allows more freedom and versatility to her personal painting styles than acrylic or oil paints. Sarah Schreiner

“My mom was born and raised in Central America and came to America really poor and sacrificed long work hours for us to come to school,” Jester said. “I think it’s really important to her that I am successful and have some type of job title. I think it took a long time for her to come to the reality that I wasn’t going to pursue medicine.”

After graduating in 2012, Jester spent a brief time working at Communities in Schools of North Texas, an after-school program for students. She then became a full-time art teacher at McMath Middle School for four years.

During this time, she incorporated both art and life skills into lessons for her students.

“It was the most rewarding experience ever to bring forth creativity in students that they didn’t know existed,” Jester said. “Usually, art was a means [to an end]. But the real hidden curriculum was to make my students realize how valuable they were. And after they saw the value of their own worth, they would see the value of others. That was my goal.”

Now a stay-at-home mother, Lester relies on H20Hue, her in-home art studio, to keep her dream alive while still sharing it with others and enjoying her personal life.

“H20Hue was birthed out of a desire to continue teaching art knowing that my ultimate goal was to stay at home with my son,” Jester said.

Directly translating to “watercolor” and inspired by a former UNT watercolor studio, Jester’s studio is designed for all ages with the purpose of teaching art to both novice and professional artists.

The studio also donates 10 percent of every class session towards the International Justice Mission, a social justice organization that sheds a light on topics such as on slavery, sex trafficking and police brutality.

To keep the artistic spark alive, Jester warns her current art students to not give up on an art degree and lifestyle .

“I wasn’t aware about all the different jobs you could pursue with art,” Jester said. “There’s so many. Like, you don’t have to just teach art. You can actually make money in the career of art. You could even doodle the logos on the Google homepage if you wanted. People get paid for that. Nearly everything you see with art on it, someone is getting paid for it.”

Communication design freshman Kayleigh Kowaleski is optimistic that the job field for artists is a growing one.

“I’m open to wherever the market takes me, whether that be perhaps in advertising or working for a firm or company,” Kowaleski said. “I think the job field for aspiring artists is growing, and the mindset of society is shifting to one that can really appreciate and value the arts as a career.”

Studio art senior Emily Sides said artists can be found in any field, even the ones most people don’t think of.

“Musicians, dancers, poets, chefs—anyone that continues and constantly creates is an artist,” Sides said. “Through that I find solace knowing that whatever I decide to create in the future, even if that field has not yet been created, I have the ability to create for myself. That’s the most powerful thing an artist can do.”

Though the switch from medicine to art was initially shocking to everyone around her, Jester is content that in the end.

Pursuing art was always in the cards for her.

“I would have regretted staying pre-med,” Jester said. “I’m so much happier now. It might sound scary to pursue something different, but if it’s something that you are passionate about, it will always show through.”

Featured Image: Painter Yandira Jester freehands a watercolor painting of a fresh floral bouquet in her home studio. Jester enjoys having her newly set up home studio to create and focus on her paintings while being able to stay home and take care of her 21-month-old son. Sarah Schreiner

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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