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my story

Jenn bio web.jpg

As a kid I was lucky to be surrounded by makers. Creating felt natural among all the Bob Ross style landscapes, crocheted afghans, photography portraits, and comic book illustrations from my family alone. If you knew me at this time you likely received one of hundreds of drawings of a sunset over a lake drawn in crayon. My sunsets were prolific and I had all the time in the world to create them.

Like so many others as I grew up I felt increasing pressure to be good at art in order to make it worthwhile. I compared my work to my peers' and to my older siblings' work.  Needless to say I made less and less art. I believed my time was meant to be more productive and "studious" seizing opportunities that did not include art.

On a whim I enrolled in an art design class freshman year of undergrad. I could feel the tides shift the moment my art professor balked at my excuses for not declaring art as my major. I believed only those students preparing to be a professional artist were meant to study art. Dr. Charney convinced me art belonged to everyone who pursued it for its own sake. He helped me acknowledge I had developed some skill and capable of learning more. Most importantly, Dr. Charney recognized how the process of art making lit me up. That's all it took, a twenty minute conversation to open my mind to the possibility and shift my life forever. Dr. Charney transferred to another school that same year and I never took another class with him again. 

And so it goes. I majored in art and psychology. Art served me well. It came at a time in my development that I was finding myself. I found my place. I belonged and art belonged to me. Art provided means to both set myself apart from others and to celebrate our collective experience. Art gave me a voice when I couldn't find the words to comment on my experiences in the world. Again and again it came to my aid either as that faithful old friend that listens without judgment or as means to relish the joy and beauty I wish could last a little longer.

As I approached parenthood I set aside my oil paints to make time to focus on work, graduate school, and preparing for baby. I was hopeful I'd start again after my son was born. Little did I know at that time just how scarce my free time would really be. Throughout the years I've enjoyed making countless creative experiences for my children, yet I never created art just for myself until recently. Again, I fell back on beliefs my time was meant to be more productive, serious, and selfless. 

 

March 2020 COVID-19 hit our community. We found all our family home, all the time. I felt challenged to be a secure, calm resource for my own children, my clients, all the people I care about most. I was struggling to process my own worries, and unanswered questions. My regular routines for self-care were either off limits due to social distancing, or just not enough to create the space and time I needed to tend to myself. 

I decided to try watercolors because they're easy to set up and clean. In the early morning hours, before the kids woke, I'd sit at our kitchen table with a cup of coffee and I was able to quiet my mind enough to paint. I painted portraits of the people I care about most, I painted memories of previous summers that felt so carefree in comparison the current times. Once again making art helped me find myself, ground myself, make joy and beauty last a little bit longer. It gave me something nothing else could at the time; hope that the most important and beautiful things still existed, and hope the current situation would not last forever. 

I may not be a professional artist, but art making has truly been a gift to me throughout my life. This time, I intend to keep it, make use of it, share it with others, and encourage others to do the same. I don't have to be a professional artist to make it worthwhile. Time making art has already proven to mean the world to me. 

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