It’s not unusual for painters to have a muse, but Jodi Edwards’ muse is somewhat out-of-the-ordinary. It’s DJ Fritz Homans, who plays the blues on Maine community radio station WERU on Wednesday afternoons. Given that Edwards was a successful musician before she became a career artist, the source of her inspiration makes sense. “That is my non-negotiable time to paint,” Edwards says of the afternoon sessions. “I turn the music on and the magic just starts to happen.”
Edwards creates her modern abstracts in a cathedral-ceilinged studio (with a “great stereo system”) on the second floor of a Maine farmhouse in Surry, which has been in her husband’s family for six generations. “It’s not always easy to get up into the studio,” she says. Staying on a schedule helps—she also paints on Monday and Friday afternoons—as does having a preparatory ritual. “I have a certain snack that I put in a little ramekin. I turn the radio on to get Fritz going, I have the snack in my hand, and as soon as I get up the stairs it’s fine.”
Edwards’ paintings feature bright colors and bold patterns. She works in acrylic because it dries faster. “If you have to fix something or change something, it’s better not to have to wait,” she says. Many of her pieces include a circle or other shapes. “There’s a lot of chaos in the background of my paintings, and I think the shapes I paint over the chaos are my way of trying to have some control over it.” A bit of black often appears as a contrast to her exuberant color palette. “I took a class with a teacher I really liked who said you’re never, ever supposed to use black,’” says Edwards, who is largely self-taught. “She said you could make a color that looks like black, but I love to break rules, so no one can tell me I can’t use black.”
When she feels she has just about finished in the studio, Edwards brings her pieces downstairs to the living room or bedroom so she can live with them for a day or two. Dutch-born abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, whose biography Edwards read several years ago, inspired the practice. “He would sit and look at his work for hours,” she says. “A painting might be close to finished, but then I bring it downstairs and I realize, no it’s not, or ‘oh my gosh … orange.’” Back the painting goes to the studio for final strokes of the brush, which like notes added to or removed from a musical score, bring it into perfect harmony.