Growing up in rural Tennessee, I spent most of my time in nature, wandering through woods and fields. At home I loved helping to care for our family’s chickens, geese, ducks, goats, pigs, dogs and cats.
I often played under a huge willow tree in our back yard. Perhaps my first art experience was marveling at the sunlight filtered through the leaves and the colors dancing before my eyes. I wrote little poems under that tree.
I knew at a young age that art was my path. I studyed at various art schools, and took up painting. One of my teachers introduced his students to anthroposophy and awakened us to sense the living, breathing inwardness and depth in all true art. To see and experience life and art spiritually became my path from then on. It eventually led me to Switzerland to study with master artist, Beppe Assenza. His school was grounded in anthroposophy, Goethe’s Color theory, Rudolf Steiner’s color indications and the art of painting.
After 4 years, I came back to the United States near Hudson, New York to lead a painting training for the next 11 years! However, life changes led me to Crestone, Colorado, a town filled with a wide spectrum of spiritual seekers. This year I will give two Art Retreats: the first is August 11th to 15th and the second is August 25th to August 28th (details are on my website if you're interested).
Finally, I have written a book for artists called An Artist’s Workbook. This book consists of 45 painting exercises distilled from my many years of experience pursuing and teaching art. The book’s intent is to encourage everyone to try different approaches in order to stimulate your artistic imagination and creativity.
Two years ago, Crestone, Colorado had the most beautiful fall ever. People stopped in ‘awe’ at the glorious colors on the mountain sides and commented on it’s beauty. For a while I did that too, when suddenly I realized "why am I merely gazing? Where are my brushes?" I decided on a 10-day block of study and ventured into the nearby National Forest to paint.
It was an amazing journey! I choose a place deep in the forest, a embankment overlooking the stream. Each day I would begin by quieting myself: observing the light changes, color intensities, sounds of the forest and earthy smells. As my journey progressed, my attention to subtleties awoke. It was similar to meditation in that my inner life was finding quiet.
Listening with my whole body, I became an ear of the forest. A soul connection happened. My art moved faster with more consciousness, with pure clarity. To experience moments when work is flowing is a gift! One piece after another filled my folder. Each day I would continue work on the art pieces in my studio, sometimes destroying and other times developing them further.
I was inspired. The tenth day in the forest, I looked up and saw the last of the leaves falling. I smelled winter in the air as a cold icy wind touched my face. I picked up my art gear and headed home.
I displayed this work for 10 days in my studio and spent a full day studying it all. The ending of this color journey was a winter canvas. I had taken dead leaves and sticks from my perch in the woods. Glued them on the canvas and painted over them. No, I didn’t decide on a composition first! Instead the art piece evolved organically. After the painting was completed, my inspiration ebbed with this poem:
Ice Crystals, Snow, Cold & deep waters.
Fall has passed and winter encroaches.
Blue sky...vast, protecting.
Moon shines over the mountain peaks, playful like a melody.
Lifeless remains of summer's plants.
Chirp, Slosh, Sigh, Swish, Cries of nature.
Earth's deep silence.
This is Week 10 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Jennifer's story today. To connect with Jennifer and see more of her work, please visit the following links: