their work and words, interviews, blogs, images, hints, tips, websites
and more...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Interview #18--meet the peripatetic Jennifer Lawson!

And yes, you're right, this time we didn't have a teaser post!  Jennifer and I have BOTH been so busy, we just decided to jump right in.  I'm delighted to have had the chance to update her original interview, because I knew a lot had changed for her, what with a whole lot of travel and a brand new, high pressure job.  

This is one of the mixed media images I chose to include in Artist's Journal Workshop...
I love her bold, lively work, including her Bali  sketches, animals, travel works, and home in Maine...that's one of my favorite places, so I've really been looking forward to this!

Let's jump right in--and thank you for waiting for us!

Jennifer, how did you get started journaling?

I started sketching the summer of 2007. I took a very long break from art, focusing on my career working as both an art director and creative director after getting a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in college many years ago. The only drawing I did for years were thumbnails and layouts producing thousands of catalog pages. It was that summer five years ago when I became aware that I needed to fill my creative spirit with some sort of artistic expression. Over the years I had bought sketchbooks only to have them sit unopened. I remember that summer grabbing a cheap sketchbook and a pencil and starting to sketch. I was horrible! However, suddenly the whole world changed for me. I found creative fulfillment, I enjoyed trying all sorts of mediums, teaching myself to watercolor, starting a blog and discovering all the wonderful people from all over the world that share my passion and…I even got better.

Jennifer's sensitive, energetic portraits are always a treat...

Tell us a bit about your and what difference in approach, medium, or feeling they call for.

I spent two years living in both Maine and Bali, Indonesia. Moving to Bali is the reason I taught myself to watercolor. It was a transportable way to get the bright intense colors I love into my sketches. The experience of living in Bali was a wonderful way to document the new and exciting life that unfolded everyday. I have wonderful journals that account my time in beautiful Bali.

I love her sketches of animals, both at home and in Bali...

I started with a small box of cheap pan watercolors, but now I only use tube colors (mostly Daniel Smith) because the consistency and the colors are far superior. Also, I could change colors depending on where I was living. I learned a lot by reading other artist’s blogs and seeing what they were using. Living on the coast of Maine, I tend to use more darker blue gray colors like Payne's Gray, Lunar Blue, Moonglow and the earthy golds and browns. In Bali I used more clear blues like Antwerp Blue along with more yellows and reds and being the tropics, I had to make a lot of greens, which is harder than you would think. I love Quinacridone Gold and Cerulean Blue and go through a lot of both colors wherever I am sketching just about anything. I enjoy getting varied line weights in my sketches so pens are very important and I've tried them all. I always have a Staedler .03 pen, a flexible nib fountain pen and a Pentel Pocket brush pen with me.

What’s your favorite subject?

When I first started, I would draw mostly inanimate objects, landscapes and my pets. My dog Sophie has always been one of my favorite subjects. Being an animal lover, when we moved to Bali I would draw all the Bali dogs that roamed the streets of the villages.

Sophie's "in the swim"--the energetic lines here really give the sense of motion.
Eventually I started to draw the beautifully costumed Balinese and their colorful life. I took a reportage course with the Dalvero Academy and found that to be a wonderful way of seeing and recording the world around me. I started really focusing on the figure, which was such a challenge for my out of shape drawing skills, but with practice I got better. I tried portraits and found I loved doing those—friends, family, and strangers, Julia Kay’s Portrait Party on Flickr...anybody. It's fun! I also went to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Lisbon Portugal in 2011. What an amazing experience to meet other artists and draw the people and places of that beautiful city. I hope to go again—Santo Domingo in 2012.

Colorful Lisbon!

So how many of us will get the chance to sketch one of the most storied mountains in the world?

Jennifer, sketching on the spot on Kilimanjaro!  THAT is dedication...

Do you see yourself continuing to journal?

I will hopefully do this for the rest of my life. I can't imagine life without sketching. It is who I am. Though I do not live in Bali anymore, I continue to travel as much as possible and record those events in my journals. I recently climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and did as much drawing as possible in the rugged inclement mountain conditions. We hiked all day long and with the cold temperatures at night I only managed a small sketch or two a day for the 8 days we were on the mountain. When we would get to camp I would usually start a sketch before dinner and finish it huddled in my tent, all bundled up in my sleeping bag, drawing by the light of a headlamp before I would fall asleep after a day of hiking 2,000 to 3,000 vertical feet. It was an experience I will never forget and along with the memories and photographs, I have these quick sketches in a small Moleskine watercolor journal that are wonderful reminders of that amazing adventure. Lately my creative consulting job keeps me very busy and it has been harder for me to find time to sketch as much as I used to. I am now realizing it is time to take a step back and carve out some time for what I love to do.

I love Jennifer's food sketches, but especially these simple, colorful bowls of soup from the top of the world.

DO you use your journal sketches to plan future paintings or are they stand-alone?

My journal sketches are all just drawings of where I am in that moment. I wish I could plan future paintings, but honestly, I can be a little unfocused and drifty when my days are not scheduled by the structure of corporate life. So most are just spontaneous sketches in sketchbooks and loose pieces of paper. Most of my loose sketches get filed (actually stuffed) in a large paper grocery bag never to be seen again. If I want to paint, I get out the oil paints and start from scratch.

Other thoughts? Whatever else you feel is more important, personally, to YOU...

It's such a gift that I discovered drawing, sketching and journaling in my life, now it IS my life. It's part of who I am whether it is the major part or not so much as it is these days. That will eventually change, as the impermanence of life will offer up new opportunities and possibly more time to sketch.
I continue to learn and grow everyday through my sketching. I never leave the house without a sketchbook and a pen or two...at the least. Better late than never, right?

Thank you, Jennifer, this was terrific!


Don't miss her blog at http://jenniferlawson.blogspot.com/ or her Flickr, where there are LOTS and LOTS of images to enjoy...


  1. Wonderful interview and fantastic talent!

  2. Great fun, isn't it? I love Jennifer's work...

  3. Jennifer -- you have been such an inspiration to me, with your flowing lines that are so full of the character of the person or animal you are drawing. And I loved to read about your trip up the mountain. How are you going to top that? LOL!

  4. Great interview! Love your line work and rich colors. Oh what goodness practice brings. Your portraits are such an inspiration, pushing me on :)

  5. So glad to read this! Jennifer, your portraits are what gave me the incentive to try them, and now I see what fun they are! Thank you for inspiring others!

  6. What a lovely interview, Kate--Jennifer is one of my all-time favorite artists, and I love following what she's up to. Her work always delights.

  7. Thanks, all! I've always loved her work too, so this was a real pleasure.

  8. One of my favorite people to follow. Thanks Kate!


We'd love your feedback...please share your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...