FEATURED ARTIST: JENNIFER GENNARI
I’m a huge believer that inspiration can be found anywhere. Just because I’m a photographer, doesn’t mean that I only seek out dog photography for inspiration and ideas. We can learn valuable lessons from studying art outside our own niches, which in turn can inspire developments in our own work, and open up avenues we may never have considered before. And so I’ve decided to share my inspiration and celebrate the immense talent that the art world has to offer, bringing you a series of ‘Featured Artist’ interviews that delve into the world of some of the artists that I love and admire the most – both international and close to home!
So without further ado, it’s an absolute pleasure to introduce my very first Featured Artist – New York Artist, Jennifer Gennari. I’ve been an avid follower of Jennifer’s work for some time now. There’s just something so captivating about the way she uses texture and light to create her portraits, I feel drawn into each and every one. Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a sucker for classical painting and portraiture, and Jennifer’s work combines that with my love for animals in a way that I’ve never seen before!
But enough of my rambling, let’s hear a little bit from Jennifer in her own words…
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am an artist living in NYC with my cat on the upper east side of Manhattan. I paint a lot of animal portraits and some human ones too. When I have time I work on some personal paintings as well that I send off to some galleries I work with.
How did you get into painting?
I kind of fell into it while I was in college at Ringling College of Art and Design. I was an Illustration major and all of my illustrations were done in oil paint (for some reason). I loved the medium but was never that great at it. So after a few years of working for Hallmark Cards in MO after graduation, I decided to go to the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and properly learn how to do this thing. It was an amazing experience.
Who or what (or where!) inspires you?
I’m very inspired by animals. I have an enormous soft spot for them, to the point where I see dogs on the street and I still light up like it’s the first dog I’ve ever seen! I have one cat myself, but I have a feeling I’m destined to get another one very soon. I’m also very inspired by artists of the 19th century for their technique, and contemporary artists for their imagination.
How long does a painting typically take?
If it is a smaller portrait of around 9×12” or 11×14” I can have those finished and ready to ship in about a week or two. For my larger commissions, they take between one to two months excluding drying time.
What’s your biggest obstacle as an artist?
I would imagine a lot of artists have the same answer to this question, but for me the answer is “what do I want to paint?”. It can be a very daunting task to need to fill a blank canvas with whatever your heart desires! I don’t necessarily have a deficit of ideas, but not all end up in amazing paintings. A lot of the time you start sketching and realise very quickly that the idea just isn’t what you thought it would be, and then you need to decide if it’s worth fighting for or leaving.
I’m head over heels in love with your feline paintings! Do you have a favourite piece of yours?
Definitely can’t pick a favourite. I have a lot of emotional stuff tied up in these. When I paint them, people give me a whole story of who the animal is/was and the life they all shared together. Its incredibly heartwarming and it makes every painting very special to me because I can see the little life inside each one. I really love working on all of them equally.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Normally I wouldn’t have an answer for this question, but I am in the middle of moving my studio at the moment and my cat will be joining me in the new space. For years I’ve kept my home and studio separate, but I thought for a change I would combine the two and see what happens. So, definitely my cat Rory is the most indispensable “item” in my studio.
If you weren’t an artist, what profession do you think you would’ve pursued?
No idea. Ive thought about this before and I think ill be in trouble if something ever happened to my ability to create art.
What are your hobbies outside of painting/art?
I play video games. I used to play them constantly, but now its just every now and again. I also enjoy running, and I’m hopefully to get back into music. I used to play a few instruments, with piano and violin being my two favourites. Maybe I’ll pick up the violin again soon.
Do you have a favourite breed of dog?
No. But if I were to get one now, I love Australian sheep dogs, Ridgebacks, and who’s not a sucker for a Golden Retriever?
If you could own any work of art, what would it be?
I would settle for pretty much any painting from John Singer Sargent, but I think I would have to go with “Joan of Arc” from Jules Bastien-Lepage.
Do you have any new projects coming up? Would you be able to share any sneaky details with us?
Unfortunately no. I have a few things I’m dying to get to, but I’m unsure of where I’ll start first. I have a large dog portrait I’m working on for fun, and an idea I have loosely floating around that’s inspired by a few things from my past. But we’ll see what happens!