Thursday, 21 July 2011

Off The Wall

Jenny Bird
Working Up the Pecking Order

image from London Miles Gallery

With exceptional fine art skills and an eye for the unusual, Jenny's art shines like a beacon off whatever materials she paints upon.

We met up.

RD: Firstly Jen, we at The Collective want to say sorry for how long it took to get some questions together for our interview. It doesn't often happen but when it does we like to admit it...

RD: So we can reassuringly say, it's great to meet you Jenny, can you give us a run down about yourself please, where your from and where you live?

I am a recent transplant from the foggy sunset district of San Francisco to the other side of the bay and now live in sunny Oakland CA. with my husband John and 2 dogs, Sailor and Vegas. I was born in NYC but my family made the move out west when I was an infant and I was raised in Napa CA. second in line in a brood of 5 kids.

RD: What media do you use and are you a self taught artist?

I paint primarily with oil on wood but also do acrylic works on paper. I received my BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute but I feel like whatever training I received I am still a self taught artist of sorts. The type of work I was doing before art school evolved into a more expressionistic way of creating when I was being guided in Art School but there was a slow evolution out of that way of creating after I left school so I feel my creating has all been a journey of experimentation and revelation and so on. Sometimes I feel like I am painting the same idea over and over trying to perfect it in terms of the best way to get the idea across and in terms of skill. I think part of what pushes me is dissatisfaction and the need for perfection of an image and thought as happy as I can be with a finished piece there is always something ‘better’ that I can do.

RD: Could you explain how your art works, and the initial inspiration behind your slightly macabre images?

In keeping in line with what I was describing about my artwork in the last question I am pretty obsessed, as I think it is evidenced in my work, with the idea of Duality, it is hard for me to show only one side of the story I think that push and pull of opposites drives much of my work. I am a little obsessed with death, I’m really not ok with the idea of it and its unknown aspect tends to cause me much consternation, I think that unease always has a way of creeping into my work. In looking around at nature you see the cycles of birth life and death so to show only the robust and beautiful for me is not showing the entire picture. Every symbol I use in a painting has its own purpose and meaning to the ‘story’ there isn’t anything in there for sheer gratuitousness.

The duality aspect is also referring to the self and the ‘multilayeredness’ ( lol I don’t think that’s not a word) of being human.

RD: We noticed you were in a tattoo magazine called "Ink Butter", we wondered how your characters transfer to the human skin and are you happy with the results. Also have you got any tatts?

Yes I have tattoos and I have seen both good and bad translations of my images into tattoo form on other people, but that is dependent on the skill of the tattoo artist. I am of course flattered when someone decides to tattoo one of my images on their body, my only request is that they go to someone good ;)

RD: Is your studio in your home and also for artists suffering from lack of work motivation, have you got any tips for getting your head down and getting on with a days art work?

Yes, my studio is in my home and I am really lucky that in the new house I have a really large space, I worked in a smallish bedroom sized room for many years so having something 3 times as big now feels palatial . I am generally pretty disciplined about working. One of my techniques for keeping on track is working on multiple pieces at a time, if I am only working on one painting I tend to drag it out too long, so if I am working on multiples, when I get bored, frustrated or stuck in one piece I can move on to another. Often while I am working on something else the solution or excitement returns for another piece that I have taken a break from. This also works well since I work in oils with many layers and often need time for layers to dry so moving on to something else keeps me from spinning my wheels and over thinking a piece, which I also have a huge tendency for.

RD: Do you have a favourite piece and could you explain why it's so good?

If you are referring to other artists work I couldn’t possibly pick just one favorite but if you are referring to my own work then my favorite piece is always the current ‘major’ one I am working on. Currently it is a piece that I will be showing at Varnish Fine Art Gallery’s grand reopening show in Sept. my painting is titled ‘Reviving Ophelia’ and inspired by the many beautiful paintings of Ophelia, John Everett Millais’ in particular, as well as the tale of sleeping beauty.

RD: If you could send us a picture of "Reviving Ophelia" when it's released, Im sure our readers would love to see it.

RD: Have you got any hobbies, cycling or surfing for instance?

I really spend most of my time making art… I don’t really have hobbies… is that sad? LOL.

RD: Defo not!

RD: Are you a veggie or a meat lover?

I eat fish so I can’t really be called a veggie but I don’t eat mammals.

RD: What shows have you got on the horizon Jen?

☀I currently have pieces in a show at Pop Santa Fe gallery for the Curiosities show.

☀The Varnish reopening in Sept.

☀A piece for ‘Dig for Fire’ a Pixes themed art show at Cave gallery in Sept.

☀Saints and Souls doll show at Poets gallery in New Orleans in Oct.

☀Varnish Fine Art is my representative gallery and I am starting work for my next solo show with them in the spring of 2012 as well as work for a pop up gallery they are doing in NYC in April.

RD: Would you like to thank anyone?

Sure, first I’d have to thank my husband John for believing in me and always being so supportive as well as my family, collectors and fans of my work. Creating art can often be a very isolating experience so when you get messages from strangers that are touched or excited or interested in your work it really means the world.
Oh ya and thank you Wayne! For being interested in my work and asking me to do this interview!

RD: Ahh, that's ace of you Jen, stay in touch...Thanks

Look her tweeeet art at these location:

Pop Gallery...Here.

Varnish Fine Art... Here.

Cave gallery... Here.

Visit Jenny Bird's WebSite... Here.

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