Friday, May 11, 2012

An Artist You Should Know

Jennifer McLean is an extraordinary woman! I've enjoyed her blog for a very long time and have participated in her challenge "Artist's Play Room".  But it wasn't until I made a personal connection to her that I realized just how lucky I was to know her.  Not only is she smart, savvy, funny, and an extremely talented, but she is generous, encouraging, and a brilliant writer.  Jennifer was the author of a recent article in Featuring Magazine about the Butterfly Project, for which she invited me to submit a picture.  I wanted to share her with you all because she is the kind of person who will touch your life in ways you will never expect.  She is an artist you should know.
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Hi, I'm Jenn. I'm staggered to find out from Dion that she thinks I'm an artist you should know. I've been a fan of Dion's beautiful art for a good while so finding out that she feels similarly about my art is quite humbling. Thank you Dion, for asking me to be "An Artist You Should Know", I'm so terribly flattered.

Now, what the heck do I tell you about me?? It would be ever so much easier if there were a peanut gallery "out there" in the ether that just shouted out questions that I could happily answer. Maybe that's how I'll approach this, if I were in a peanut gallery, what would I ask the Featured Artist?


Title: "In My Heart I'm A Red Rose"
My first question would have to be "How did you become an artist?" I've always wanted to be a painter, ever since I understood what it meant to put paint on a surface and make pretty pictures. See, my mom was a painter (oils) when I was a very little girl and I always wanted to do what my mom did. Unfortunately, my dad thought "artist" was akin to "bum" so I went with math and sciences all the way through my schooling, including a degree in Psychology. The thing was, even with a University degree under my belt, I still just wanted to paint. I wanted to create beauty. But, I still believed what my dad had told me, so what I did was to start my own business that was still artistic in nature, but had proven money making potential. I became a designer wedding cake artist! I figured if Martha Stewart could create a beautiful cake, so could I. Like every craft and kind of artwork I ever learned, I taught myself. I got a book, read it, decided they were wrong and did it my own way. I did that for 8 years, but ultimately, just didn't find it fulfilling. I still JUST WANTED TO PAINT. So that's what I did. I closed the business, and became a watercolor artist. Oh, if it's not clear, I LOVE IT. Just sayin'.

A cake topper, I carved the inner
trellis "crown" etc. then filled it 

with my hand made/painted flowers.
My hand made flowers were meant
to be kept after the wedding.
They just lift off the cake!
Title: "Loving Pears"
I've been happily painting going on three years now, and once again, I'm self taught. I've expanded into other mediums like pen & ink, drawing and other mixed media. As I become more and more proficient at one medium, I become interested in a new one. Acrylics are on my list to try next. In fact, I'd LOVE to take Dion's Silks e-course that she's teaching soon! Maybe I should put that on my birthday list (May 16th). (update: I just signed up this morning as I emailed this feature to Dion, it'll be the first course I've ever taken! I'm so excited!)

My very first painting
Title: "Day Lilies in Orange"
My second question to myself would have to be "Where did you come up with the interesting name for your blog?" My blog's name is Just Add Water Silly, which is an unusual name for an artist's blog. I came up with it one day as I was once again sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and a pristine set of unopened watercolors. I was afraid to try and paint, just in case I wasn't good enough for my own standards. My friend walked by and humorously said "Oh for God's sake, Jenn, JUST ADD WATER, SILLY! Paint, just Paint! Stop being such a chicken and paint. I did just that and that evening, when I was naming my blog I decided that I better remember my friend's words, so I decided to put them front and center, every time I went to talk about my artwork!

Title: "Undiscovered Rose"
My next question to me would totally have to be about what art supplies I use. I wonder, what does she covet? Well, I have several love affairs going with my art supplies. I wouldn't switch watercolor paint even if I could get another brand for free. I'm in LOVE with Holbein watercolor paints, their translucent colors are bright and cheerful and when mixed they don't get muddy and they have a few proprietary colors like Opera Pink that are to die for! I'm also in LOVE with Sakura Pigma Micron archival ink black pens in a myriad of nib widths. (and I won't tell you just how many I own!) I just couldn't live without them! Speaking of not living without something, I couldn't survive without my new Faber-Castell watercolor pencils, their breadth of colors is awe inspiring. Finally, I'd have to give a warm, loving shout out for Arches cold pressed 140 & 300 lb paper. (although, I've been convinced by an artist friend, yes you, Tracey Fletcher King, to give Arches Hot Pressed paper a try also.)

Title: "You've Got Mail!"Title: "Ocean Storm"
Finally, I guess I'd ask "What do you most love about being an artist, where does the creativity come from?" The truth is that it makes me so happy to just be able to SAY I'm an Artist. For so long I had trouble claiming that title. I guess I thought it was pompous to say. Then, one day, I realized that it was my JOB, it's what I do and I do it to the best of my ability. It's also who I am and I love being able to create art that illuminates my heart. My creativity comes from color, whether it's a leaf, flower or another artist's work. Just seeing riotous color makes me want to splash paint around and make something spectacular! I look forward every day to going farther down this artistic "road" and I can't wait to see what's around the next corner.

Title: "The Lemons"Title: "They Call Me Mr. Hosta"
Thank you so much, Dion, for asking me to participate in your Continuing Series. I was so thrilled just to be asked.

Jenn's Blog: www.JustAddWaterSilly.com
Jenn's Etsy Shop: www.JenniferMcLean.ca
Jenn's Email: oilandwater@telus.net