Jesse Renouf, 23, has found a way to channel his creative energies and make a living for himself.
His art store, Treasures by Jesse, first opened in Stephenville in June 2017.
Run by Jesse and his family, the store offers a wide array of Jesse’s art, including pebble art, paintings, painted mailboxes, tissue boxes, and more.
While Jesse always had an interest in art, his passion was piqued while completing the Film and Video Production program at the College of the North Atlantic just three years ago.
“Within Film and Video, there was an art course and he loved it,” said Jesse’s mother Judy.
The family was able to draw on Jesse’s newfound passion to open Treasures by Jesse once he completed the program later the same year.
“We started Googling ideas and that’s where he started with the basic pebble, and then started trying more challenging pieces,” said Judy. “Three years later, here we are.”
The store also provides Jesse, who has autism, an opportunity to socialize – he gets to interact with customers and engage in conversation.
In fact, he has a table set up at the store and often lets visitors watch him paint to give them a sense of the process.
“It gives customers an idea what the story is all about when it comes to painting,” he said.
When he sells a painting, it makes him feel appreciated.
“I feel very proud when someone comes in and buys my artwork and they’re happy,” he said.
Jesse speaks passionately about his work. He is always able to find a story behind the art.
For example, he talks imaginatively of how a painting of a clothesline evokes familiarity to any Newfoundlander.
“It gives customers attention to a type of chore that can be done on a beautiful day outside,” he said. “Hanging the laundry, drying over time. There’s the grass, the waves, the wind blowing the clothes in a breeze. It’s a very beautiful type of day outside, you can tell in this type of pebble artwork.”
Other paintings depict Newfoundland touchstones, including mummers, jellybean row, fishing boats and lighthouses – in each case, Jesse perceives the history behind the object.
He also loves to paint beloved cartoon characters such as Elmo, Spongebob Squarepants, and Homer Simpson.
Treasures by Jesse is run as a team, with the assistance of Jesse’s mom Judy, his dad Wayne, and his co-worker Trudie Jesso.
“We are working together to make my business stronger,” said Jesse.
The first step is buying the canvasses. Jesse does all the painting on these.
For the pebble art, Jesse and Trudie work together to construct the painting and piece the materials – including pebbles, sea glass, and driftwood – together.
According to Jesse, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
The paintings are left to dry and then Judy is tasked with coating the paintings.
Meanwhile, Wayne does all the woodworking.
The pebbles, sea glass and driftwood used in Jesse’s art is collected along the beaches.
Cleaning and sanitizing these materials is part of the process.
Local residents also donate materials. Judy felt this was indicative of the type of support Jesse gets from the community.
“People do support him,” she said.
Treasures by Jesse is open year-round.
Art can be purchased in-person at the store, located at 143 Main St. in Stephenville, or ordered for shipping online.
To learn more about Treasures by Jesse, visit www.treasuresbyjesse.com
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