Up close and personal with California artist Jessie Cooksey-Hernandez.

I had the privilege of sitting down for a one on one interview with one of the most talented and creative people I’ve  ever known. She’s a California self-taught artist, mother of 4, and my big sister! Jessie Cooksey-Hernandez.

We both grew up going in and out of foster care, so we rarely got a chance to hang out much as kids. But no matter what direction our lives were going, our mutual love for art was the one thing that never changed.

I asked her to pick out some her favorite creations and tell us more about the meaning behind them. So here in her own words are the true meanings behind every piece, advice for aspiring artist, and more!

Jessie Cooksey-Hernandez

As a color blind person any time I mess with color I am intimidated. This was the drawing I did wanting to combine the black and white I love so much with a hopefully soft tone of a baby’s rosy face! I loved how it turned out! It let me kick fear in the ass so I can bring out the life of the baby’s face!

Daddy’s girl.

This drawing didn’t turn out exactly or close to how I envisioned it. The reason I choose it as a fave is because I felt she was strong. The look in her eyes just pulls me in. I have a thing of drawing women. We are a force to be reckoned with! Her face says so much to me about how strong we are.


This is Jo. Jo is a critter. This is MY way of connecting with people. I know..weird way to connect. I was talking to angel about this movie and he just laughed and said he never met anyone who like it. Of course I took out ye old sketch pad and went to instagram with a progressive snapshot of it and asked who digs what I’m stepping in..in not so many words..and other people got a huge kick out of it too. It’s nice to get to express how I feel or a memory I want to share though an art form that not only is love but other find joy in it as well!


This one I looove! Yes because it’s cute lol I totally got a kick of trying my hand at wildlife! I not only wanted to draw the bird but a perched bird lol believe it or not I completely hesitated when having to draw the pine needles it was sitting on. The thought of failure or messing up a drawing is always something that haunts me for some reason. Looking at this portrait reminds me to just get it out there. No matter how it turns out!


This is probably one of my favorite drawings I’ve ever done. Not because of how it turned out but because of the calmness it took to draw. I’m a mother, wife and all round busy woman. I am guilty of rushing a drawing just to get it finished. With this particular portrait I had to take my time and completely focus on the attention to detail. Details with her skin. This young lady has Vitiligo. The placement of tone on her skin will capture her true self. And all the real beauty that she holds.


This portrait is one I drew to tackle Hair!! I hate hair. The flow. Small strands. Natural looking. Lol everything about hair I hate. I would cut all corners to not have to draw hair..everyone I drew got no hair at all or all one color lol this was my first drawing that I made my self give hair a little more definition. Not hella good. But great motivation for me that I might not be as horrible as I thought!


I really love this one. Not because of how it looks because it’s kind of cartoony looking. It one of my faves because it reminds me that draw is a way for me to silence my anger, frustration, sadness or what ever is troubling me for the moment. I was having a bad day when I drew it. I was praying about some health issues I was having and this image popped in my head. As I began to draw I felt the tension fade. It reminds me of a greater power in God. Everyone deals with things differently. He knew how to deal with mine!

Inuit girl.jpg
Inuit girl.

When did you first discover your love for drawing and art?

When I was younger my dad used to let me watch Bob Ross. Of course his beautiful work kept me intrigued by the beauty and talent he had but one day after his show there was a guy named Mark Kistler from a show called “draw squad”. It was love at first sight!! I never looked at art, drawing or my own creativity the same!

Do you classify yourself as a certain kind of artist?

I guess if I were to label my art it would be fine art and folk art. Portraits are a new found love of mine but cultural arts and heritage have always been a love of mine.

What inspires you to create?

Like most kids you feel hindered from expressing who you are. Some times that even means your creativity and imagination. I was a foster child so I really had a hard time with expression. At times you were made to feel like it was a bad thing. Like you don’t express your self properly or “the right way”. Art, in various forms was my means of expression. And I was able to hide it from judgment.

What’s the one of the things you hope to communicate through your art?

Freedom. Art should be a way of expressing your feelings, your day, what you’re anticipating. You should feel a freedom of releasing your thoughts without harm or judgment.

Which medium are you dying to try but haven’t yet?

I’ve actually recently started to use watercolors! It’s been interesting to say the least but still something I wanted to try and had been scared of. My oldest daughter showed interest in it and I said let’s try it together! We’re having fun with it no matter how it looks!!

What advance would you have for people who would love to draw but think they can’t ?

I would say look at Picasso!! It’s your love for what you do that makes the art shine!

I love your native style drawings! What do they mean to you?

Heritage, strength, pride. As a brown person sometimes you are looked down upon and made to feel as if you shouldn’t be proud of who you are or where you come from. Culture is a beautiful thing. It should be celebrated not discouraged.

Growing up did you ever have an art mentor or someone who encouraged you in your art?

Mark Kistler was my first motivating force. I also had a teacher name Mrs buck in 6th grade. She would always use my work as an example of thinking outside the box. My class mates would laugh at my dark-skinned Jesus or Indians killing pilgrims for thanksgiving but she loved them! It made me feel normal lol

If you enjoyed Jessie’s work let her know! She’d love to hear from you:)

You can find more of her work  and leave her any questions or comments

on instagram @OrphanArt