Okay...so I have to be honest here, in college I was a really good painter of abstract art. Wanna know why? Because I couldn't draw. But I was really creative, had an excellent eye for composition and an even better eye for color placement. All my watercolors were abstracts. My oil paintings tended to be as well. Monoprints were my favorite because you NEVER knew what would come out from plopping ink on the press plate. But I didn't have the best art learning experience at Auburn. I was never encouraged, or told "hey Jenni you are good at that let's see where we can take it". I was critiqued to death. I know some may say well that was making you have a backbone Jenni...yeah nope. Not this kind of criticism. As an educator now I see the value of criticism and realize in college I had washed up artist professors who feared students with talent. Just saying like I see it now....30 years later. I was completely discouraged to make a thing when I left Auburn. So I graduated and went into printing-making sales. I wore a suit and carried a briefcase. Can you even picture that? Good gravy.
As a people pleaser and one who is driven to succeed, I just let it go. I was good at sales because I knew the printing lingo. Over the years I've thrown away most of my art from college. (regret that now) I obviously went on to become an art teacher, vowing I would encourage and nurture students. And never not explain the why behind a grade.
Then COVID hit on my birthday, March 12, 2020 and life took an interesting turn of events for us all. One of my quarantine projects was to remodel our laundry room. Once done I remembered there was ONE watercolor I'd held onto in my art shed. Luckily I'd had it shrink wrapped and it had not had any damage. I hung it here:
It's one of my favorites. There were 3 in this series. My sister has one in her guest room, the green one I gave to someone, can't recall who.
During COVID downtime I started to notice more and more abstract art in my Instagram feed. Since ya know, I was unable to motivate myself to make art I just studied it on my social media feed. My friend Valerie Dumas started working in this subject too. Hers were so amazing I just had to buy one for myself. And hang it in the blue room.
But for me, creating abstract art, I was like nah...I don't wanna get into that. I like seeing something in my art. Plus, honestly my Auburn experience kinda did a number on my head.
And then I had to go back to school in person in August with students all online. I was in a big room ALL alone all day long, teaching to a computer. It was horrible. I had to make some changes in my daily routine or I was gonna go nuts. Naturally an overthinker and sensitive little soul, teaching to bubbles on a screen was killing my creative spirit.
So I took an ecourse with Laura Horn. Mostly using watercolors, which I love. And then I took another class with her. She is an excellent teacher. The videos are beautifully made and so easy to follow. I highly recommend them. I started making what I called the "Playground Series" inspired by my puppers running amuck on the church playground next door to our home.
And then I spotted Jodi King in my insta feed one day and thought man that art has ENERGY. Luckily she was about to launch a free art course called the "Honest ART Challenge". There was a FB community, daily email videos with challenges, and best of all I got to watch her PAINT. She is badass folks. She is radiant and so very inspiring. So I did it.....I tried Honest Art.
Day 1: painted over an old large canvas of a butterfly. I do that a lot BTW. Chances are if you have an older acrylic from me there's another painting under it. hehe 2 for one.
Day 2: painted this above. And had to step away. It was just a hot mess to me. I texted Tiffin and said HELP. She offered a bit of advice. Jodie calls this the fugly stage, and man there could not be a more true statement. But the key is to keep going.
Day 3: I forgot to take a photo. Dangnabit. I basically painted 5 weird circles in black across the canvas above. Then went URGHHHH>>>and walked away again.
Day 4: I walked into the studio and decided it was just time. Now or never just do it Jenni. So I made a huge swoop of red and then started adding pink....and then well I just went crazy adding. Chase was at my feet the entire time, my muse. I was singing loudly to every song on the radio as Billy prepared dinner I remember now. I also remember feeling free. I mean this really didn't matter to my grand scheme of life. I was just making art to MAKE ART. I might not have ever shown it to anyone either. But then it felt done. And I sent it back to Tiffin. If you don't have an honest art friend you need to get one. One that will tell you hey don't go that direction....or ya need to not paint that anymore...you need to get one. Tiffin is this for me. When it comes to art that is. She knows I value her thoughts.
Now the 4 days weren't really 4 days in a row. It was more like over 3 weeks. I wasn't really frustrated or anything, just not interested in it.
I entitled the piece "Getting Lost". Because that is exactly what happened in the process of painting this. I got lost in the colors, the marks, the composition. It was one of the most freeing experiences. Especially these days when teaching school is utterly heartbreaking everyday. What used to bring me such JOY is not right now. Painting however is. Because I can literally get lost. In every brush stroke, mark and line.
Even the close-ups are yummy and full of energy. So...what's next for me? Let's just say Abstract art is going to be making a regular appearance now.