Whether producing fantasy, wildlife, or fan art, Jessica Kurnas’ passion is art, and she is the Park County Artist of the Month for May.
Kurnas was born on March 6, 1991, to Wendy and Terry Kurnas in Newport News, Virginia. She was raised in Williamsburg, Virginia, not far from Colonial Williamsburg. “I lived in a very wooded area, and I think it inspired me from a very young age to be an artist, and now here I am admiring the mountains,” she said.
Besides inspiration from living in the woods, she was inspired by watching early- morning 90’s cartoons, anime, and various video games such as The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy.
At age 10 she created a design for a T-shirt which was printed for the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. At 14 she created another winning design which was printed on a T-shirt for Virginia History Day.
After graduating from Bruton High School in Williamsburg, she then attended Virginia Commonwealth University and studied Communication Arts,focusing on the fundamentals of art which helps strengthen artists’ understanding of the essential basics to drawing. She had an instructor who was with the Red Army in Russia. “Their teaching is much more rigorous than ours. It felt like a drawing boot camp, and our instructor took the skill very seriously. But I appreciated his attention to detail, and it certainly has been adopted into my own work,” she explained.
Kurnas graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. After graduation, she began to focus on character and creature design. She was also working at Barnes and Noble in Williamsburg, and for an A.C. Moore store in Yorktown, Virginia, where she was able to learn quite a bit about framing.
She met her husband, Curtis LongM in high school. He had lived in Westminster, Colorado and spent quite a bit of time in the mountains until his family moved to Biloxi, Mississippi when he was 13. In 2005, their home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and they moved to Virginia. Her husband spoke fondly of Colorado sharing many memories and since both share a love for winter, they decided to visit and she fell in love with the mountains.
They moved to Colorado in 2016 and she worked at Breckenridge Stables, Cabin Fever, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, Edith Teter Elementary, Murdoch’s in Silverthorne,and then TBK Bank in Fairplay. “I’ve worn many hats but I haven’t been happier than where I am now, working part-time at Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge with owners, Alan and Carol and working part-time as an artist, she said.
She is looking forward to June where her work will be displayed in the Portfolio Gallery. With both her love of nature and animals, she feels everything she does just seems natural. After working the various nine to five’s she found herself in, she would come home exhausted and still pick up her stylus to follow her passion. Occasionally, she would design a requested logo or tattoo design and as time went on, the number of requests grew in size.
She has taken on many requests since going part time such as sculpture and sign repair, live demonstrations, workshops, logo and tattoo designs. In the future she intends to expand her services into the world of sewing and knitting, book cover designs and selling her work through the gallery. She is grateful for the opportunity to work part time as an artist and to have the ability to teach others how they too can follow their passions and make a living on the creative side.
Kurnas’ work involves fantasy, wildlife, and fan art, which is unofficial drawings and other renderings of famous characters of fiction. Her works and other information can be found at parkcreates.org under Artist’s Directory.
She currently lives in Fairplay with her husband and two Shiba Inu dogs, Yuki and Okami and a cat, Aurora Borealis.
“We live in Fairplay because we love that it is quieter here. I don’t mind the hustle and bustle of Breckenridge during the day but, I love coming home at the end of the day and unwind. We love to hike here and we also enjoy biking but nothing beats walking out at night and seeing the Milky Way,” she said.
Park County Creative Alliance is an organization uniting Park County through the arts while helping to support and promote local artists from all genres such as writers, musicians, painters, photographers and so much more. Learn more about PCCA by visiting the website parkcreates.org. Be sure to pick up an Art in Adventuring Map found in various locations throughout Park County and a little beyond. PCCA can also be found on Facebook.