We have a new format for our guest artists questions its called the a-z blog and our guest can choose ten or more questions to talk about themselves Jenny Oldknow is Novembers guest artist and we have two blogs to share with you from Jenny as she talks in depth about her art and inspirations, so grab a cup of tea and read part one!
a. Tell me about yourself
I am a full-time artist living and working on the edge of the market town of Belper in Derbyshire. My studio is at home, which is great as I can squeeze in plenty of working time around being a wife and a mother of three children (aged between seven and eleven), handy for late night painting sessions!
b. Talk a bit about your path into art
I have always painted, but was sidetracked into a career working with horses (also a life-long love of mine) after leaving school. I was still an active member of my local art group (in Mickleover, Derby then in Belper) and art was always something I did as a hobby and worked to improve my skills in. It wasn’t until my eldest child was born in 2004 that my life changed beyond recognition and started the sequence of events that led to me working as an artist professionally. Most parents will agree that the arrival of a child turns their world upside down, but this is especially the case when the child has severe special needs, as we rapidly discovered our firstborn had. We were soon catapulted into a whirlwind of hospitals and appointments which put an end to any plans of mine of returning back to employment outside of the home. One of the effects of our sons disability was epilepsy which required the use of pretty strong medication which meant that he slept rather more than the average child, and not being the domestic goddess type, I found that there was only so much house cleaning I could do, so I began painting more and more. I didn’t realise it at the time, but art probably saved my sanity from all the stress I was under at the time. More practice meant my skills and confidence grew and people began to suggest I sold my work and asked me to do commissions. At that time a new gallery opened in Belper and I showed them my work, which they liked, and which sold, so they asked for more work, and as they say, I never looked back!
c. What is your artistic medium of choice?
Why that medium? Drawing for me is the basis for all my work, and is something that I have always done regularly. If I stop working in my sketchbook for any length of time, I notice my work suffers as a consequence. So a simple ink pen and sketchbook would always be enough for me to be satisfied creatively. When I was fifteen I had a stay in hospital, so to cheer me up, my father bought me a good set of watercolours, and I continue to love watercolour to this day. For years it was my main painting medium I love its fluidity and spontaneity, something I always found lacking in other mediums. However, discovering water-soluble oils has given me an interesting option of using oils in a different way, more fluid like the watercolours, which is something I am currently exploring. Most recently I have been looking at printmaking, in particular drypoint, as a way of taking my love of ink drawing a step further. Again, this is very new to me, and I am currently taking workshops with local print studios. I have been brave and have a drypoint as part of this exhibition at Studio 61!
d. What was the last show you attended?
The 2015 Print Exchange a few weeks ago at the Green Door Printmaking Studio in Derby. It was very inspiring, and fueled my enthusiasm for this medium. I always like to go to exhibitions as often as possible to recharge and inspire me, The RA Summer Exhibition is an annual favourite of mine.
e. Where do you see your work taking you?
I try not to think too much about goals past a two year time-scale, as so much can happen beyond that, so I am thinking of exhibitions I will be doing over the next couple of years (I have firm dates in my diary for exhibitions right up to the end of 2017), and the sort of work I would like to do for them. I have learnt to leave a certain amount of flexibility in my plans to allow for the unexpected opportunities to be accommodated. I have also written haiku poetry for a long time, and this is something that I want to somehow include more in my art, and I would like to produce a book of my art and my haiku at some point.
f. If you could picture yourself 5, 10 years from now,
where would you be and what would you be doing? More printmaking, oil paintings? Creating new work, challenging myself to new things and new ways of seeing the world and expressing it in my art in different ways, and of course exhibiting it. I would still see myself being primarily inspired by the natural world, but in exactly what way I don’t know, nor would I wish to plan in advance, as I want my journey to be based on genuine personal inspiration. One thing is sure, I wouldn’t consider myself ever to be where I want to be, as every goal that is achieved is immediately replaced by a new goal, a higher rung on the ladder to climb. As soon as I become complacent in where I currently am, I guess I would get bored and it would be time to give up. The day I stop trying to reach a goal with my art is the day I die!
g. Do you see yourself in your artwork? How?
As long as I remain true to myself as an artist and produce the work I want to create, I think every bit of what I do is somehow part of me, from the fact that it has inspired me as an artist in the first place, and that I am depicting it in the way that I respond to the subject matter.
h. What do you think your work stands for?
I want it to be a celebration of the natural world I love, as I observe it, through the different seasons and in varied weather conditions. The natural world has a honest beauty that has enthralled artists for thousands of years, since the first prehistoric cave paintings, and it is certainly something that I never tire of. I also want my work to stand for something that encourages people to see that they can achieve anything if they want it badly enough, in particular women and mothers, that out of circumstances beyond our control, amazing and positive things can happen that can change us and our lives for the better.
Thank you Jenny we will share part two next week please sign up for our blog to recieve them as an email.