I love moments of connection and synchronicity. I also love fun online art challenges. So when Papirmass (a phenomenal visual arts/literary art subscription partnership) teamed up with Brown Paper Bag, a blog celebrating beautiful and clever illustration to run a collage scrap exchange, I signed up.
The premise is that you get matched with another artist who has signed up, send collage scraps in the mail, then have the chance to use those scraps and enter your art in a contest.
Which brings me to Jenna Douglass. I was so delighted to be paired with this artist, whose work, when I peeked at her website, thrilled me. Her geometric shapes, use of colour and abstract yet nostalgic tone gets me happy, just by looking.
Please, get to know her too (and buy her art!)
What does it mean to be an artist? And when did you know you were an artist (aka intensely creative person)?
An artist is someone who practices their craft even when they don’t feel like it, when they are frustrated with it, and when they have failed-because art can be very frustrating and you make a lot of mistakes. I swear most of the things I do to a painting are in an effort to redeem my mistakes.
I applied to the art major in college because I wasn’t sure what else to do. I like drawing and in high school figured out I was okay at painting. Ironically I never felt like I totally fit in with the group of artists I worked with in school. The people I spent the most time with in college weren’t artists.
I think when I realized I was an artist was after I graduated with my BFA and moved from Utah to Colorado. I wasn’t accountable to anyone for how much I painted or if I painted at all. I have other talents. I could have spent all my time doing other things but something inside me knew I had to keep painting.
Obviously the world would be just fine without my paintings but I felt it was something I had to keep doing.
When you consider the words luscious and soulful, what comes to mind? Is there anyone you know who embodies these traits? When do you feel luscious and soulful?
Luscious: something full and vibrant and uncontained. I think of a painting done boldly and beautifully as luscious.
Soulful: something deep, genuine, honest, unchangeable. Funny how we use words to describe other words. I had a professor in college who was very soulful. Everything he said and taught was with such feeling and honesty.
I identify with the word ‘soulful’ more easily than the word ‘luscious’. In art, I feel soulful when I know I am creating something honestly; not because I think other people will like it; not because it is what is popular; I feel soulful when I am creating something because I feel that it is what I need to create.
I feel soulful when I create without fear of making mistakes or ‘ruining’ the painting. I feel soulful when a painting comes together and I know that I can’t take credit for what has been done.
What do you love most about your body? And why?
The thing I love most about my body is its potential. Our bodies are capable of amazing feats.
What holds them back is our minds. I spent several years involved in triathlons and other endurance events. The most difficult part was ignoring what I called mind demons; those thoughts that come when you are tired that tell you that you can’t go on.
Your body can endure so much more than you think it can. When creating, ideas and thoughts are an essential part of what you are doing but you need your body to express those ideas.
I love using my hands to create. Sometimes I sit in front of a painting feeling paralyzed because I am thinking too much. When this happens I have to force myself to just start moving my hands making marks on paper. That is when the mind demons leave and I can create without obstacle.
What brings you pleasure? What senses are involved?
Outdoor recreation. I love to snow ski, hike, road bike, run, waterski, and swim. I love that so many senses are involved in these activities: I think of all the places I have been able to do these activities and there is a history of beautiful sights.
John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
I find that being in nature whether it be mountains or ocean or lake brings a measure of wholeness and fulfillment to the soul that can’t be imitated anywhere else.
If you had to throw a dinner and dance party how would you do it?
If I threw a dinner and dance party it would be with my 3 closest girl friends. In college we were roommates and had breakfast for dinner once a week.
It inevitably would end up in a spontaneous and very interpretive dance party. I’m a really horrible dancer.
Where/how do you find your inspiration?
A lot of my paintings include figures that came from photographs from the 1950’s. These photos were taken by my grandmother of her children and I could look at them for hours. The colors and the clothing and the aged look of them is so intriguing to me.
The material I collage with is another source of inspiration for me. I flip through magazines and rip out what seems useful to me, glue it to paper and let a painting take shape from there.
I also love mountains. They are so massive and still and old.
What does your ideal day look like?
I’m sort of obsessed with being productive. So in an ideal day I would make time to exercise, paint, cook good meals, make sure the house is tidy, and do something fun outside with my husband and baby.
What advice would you give to your younger self? How old is she when she needs this advice?
Oh man. I know I’ve reached adulthood because of the way I feel about teenagers. I was such a teenager.
I’m actually sort of proud of my younger self. She didn’t care much what others thought of her and always spent time doing what she loved with people she loved being around. I think I would tell myself that there is life after high school–your whole life in fact.
What is your most treasured possession? Tell a little story about it.
This is a hard question for me. I am the opposite of a hoarder.
I love getting rid of things. But I would be devastated if something happened to my journals. I’ve kept a journal since I was in 7th grade. Most of them are really embarrassing and stupid but for some reason they hold a lot of sentiment for me.
Inspired resources: please share any heart-moving soul-shaking artistry or experiences that have moved you. What made it so powerful?
I feel like I have been captivated by so many places around the world but something that never gets old is seeing the Wasatch mountains in Utah where I grew up. I’ve always thought of them as friendly giants watching over the valley.
Also, I lived in Colorado for a couple years and was often awestruck by the sky there. Colorado has the most colorful, spectacular sunsets. So, I guess places are inspired resources for me.
Who are your favourite artists? And why?
Some of my favorite painters are Peter Doug, Lisa Congdon, Ricky Allman, Andy Curlowe, and Adam Lee. I feel like in some ways my work is similar to these artists. I love the colors they use and most of them have collage aspects in their work.
I love when I have to wonder how the artist painted what they did.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your art?
When I was graduating one of my professors had us fill out a plan for our art career. One goal I made was to always be honest in my work. It is tempting to paint what you think people will like or what is popular.
I try to paint what is important to me and what I am genuinely interested in. And I try not to be scared. Being an artist can be scary.
ps – to see more great interviews, check out the Lusciously and Soulfully interview series.
pps – if you know of any amazing artists I can profile in this series, send me an e-mail with their info – I’m always excited to connect with interesting amazing creatives.