Jacquie Jacobs, Toronto
For visual artist and college instructor Jacquie Jacobs, 65, running is a highly visual experience. Jacobs loves the independence and freedom of running, which, for her, lead directly to creativity: “You step out the door, and for however much time, you’re breathing, observing, and doing yourself some positive good. And there’s so much to see when you’re running – that’s a lot of what art is, if you’re working with realism and light effects. You’re constantly seeing, and excited by, all sorts of fabulous things.”
For Jacobs, who trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design and in Florence, Italy, her love of both art and running morphed into a series of small paintings (6 x 12 inches, oil on cradle board) that she calls “Runbys” (pronounced run-by). “I was thinking about the things I love about running, and I love running through the scenery, through the sunlight, through different situations,” she says. “I consciously thought, how can I put these things together?”
Jacobs began creating the Runbys in 2015, and there are now 125 pieces. (Many of them decorate the walls at Secrets From Your Sister, a popular bra-f itting store in Toronto.) A year later, after running the Basel Marathon i n Switzerland, Jacobs extended her stay for a month to explore the cit y and its surroundings. She spent her time running, sketching and photographing as research to work on a set of Basel Runbys when
she returned to work in her studio.
Like many runners, Jacobs’s early ventures into running were modest. “I would do it once in a while – meaning every two weeks – just because I thought, I’ve got to do something,” she says. “And you need very little gear: good shoes and a decent sports bra, and off you go.”
It wasn’t until her mid-50s that Jacobs, finding herself a few pounds heavier than she is now and working long days as a session leader with the University of Toronto’s Standardized Patient Program, finally realized her true running stride. She spoke with a co-worker who’d run a marathon (“and she was in her late 50s!”) who suggested Jacobs run with her group. Jacobs laced up her shoes, and, a few months later, the group signed up for a race. “My very first race was Harry’s Spring Run-off 5k,” she says. “Was I ever hooked! I think I came in third in my age category.”
Since then, Jacobs has appeared on age-group podiums too many times to count. “I often get up there somewhere,” she says, “and I always feel lucky that I get to do that.” She has run the Boston Marathon five times and will complete her sixth, virtually, in October.
Jacobs is now working on another series, The Molecular Suite, which evolved from the Runbys. One of her Suite pieces (3 x 6 feet, oil on stretched and prepared linen) has sold, and two hang in a gallery in Switzerland. The idea behind the Suite is “as you run through the city, the city runs through you,” she says. “You know when you’re running along the lakeshore, sometimes there are blossoms? The whole area is perfumed, so you know you’re inhaling and exhaling the city.”
Check out more of Jacobs’s artwork at jacquiejacobs.org.—