Her paintings are enchanting, as they fascinate the mind with dreamy, REM-like visions. Allow us to introduce you to Jennybird and her marvelous world: it’s a symphony of light and shadow that is sometimes lead by her, and sometimes lead by her characters, who guide her through a creative realm made of oil paint.
Read the full interview on Tattoo Life Magazine (March/April issue).
Jenny, the presentation on your website reads: Jennybird’s work explores mystery, transformation, and the sacred…”. Shall we start to describe your art with this statement? Are these the key words behind your work?
Yes, for me these words are fundamental to the way I view my work. It’s important to me to create work that has an openness to mystery. I like the idea that the viewer can find something for themselves in the worlds I create with my art, a place for the mind to wander that is unique to their experience, and doesn’t require being seen from my exact perspective.
Transformation is also important – as individuals and as a species among the countless other species we share the planet with – we are constantly evolving. In my work I like to find the connection between us as humans and the greater world in which we live, and melding together these hybrid creatures is my way of exploring these commonalities and differences. It’s beautiful and interesting to me.
My work explores mystery, transformation, and the sacred. Existing between a waking and dream state, the archetypal anthropomorphic creatures that are a part of my visual language attempt to illuminate the invisible threads of connection between sentient beings and the environments they inhabit. Depictions of flora and fauna integrated with human and animal characters serve as metaphor for the connections between all living things.
Darkness and light are at constant play, and I try to maintain a tender balance between the two.
The most recurring subjects are animals. Small, delicate animals, at times anthropomorphic, that almost recall Disney subjects. But they all show some strange, often disturbing features. Am I correct? What do they portray?
I definitely would not say my work is Disney-inspired but yes, I have a great love for and interest in animals, and some of my aesthetic animal inspirations come directly from nature, classical animal illustrations in fine art, natural history museums exhibitions and such, as well as classical fairytales which rely heavily on animals as symbolism and metaphor. As far back as I can remember, there has always been an anthropomorphic aspect to my artwork. Animals hold so much of what is mysterious in the world, they are pure – even the most ferocious amongst them – they are pure instinct, but they are feeling and thinking creatures as well. Anyone who has spent time with animals knows this to be true. We humans like to anthropomorphize animals with our own feelings and attach symbolisms to different aspects of their nature, and in my work I find this an interesting way to not only explore them but ourselves, as well.
Why do many of your creatures have wings?
Well, the easiest answer is that I love to paint birds, but it’s much more than that. I’m so interested in symbolism, and in my mind, winged creatures are of the gods, magic and mystery, they possess something we can only dream of or mimic. Winged creatures can carry a soul between the worlds, and since much of my work hovers between worlds, they are an integral feature in my work.
You prefer the oil technique. Why is that?
I’ve loved and preferred oil paint since my mom gave me her old paint box when I was about fourteen. Before that, I’d only used water soluble paint. The smell, the texture, the luminosity, the way that oil paint blends, are all reasons why I prefer oils.
How do your works come to life? Does it happen all at once, or do they come to life slowly, changing continuously while you are working on them, perhaps influenced by your life or dreams?
My process isn’t direct; I start from a small idea, but I don’t see the entire picture at the beginning. Only once I’m working on a painting does it reveal itself and develop into what it will become. I look at the process as a dance, where sometimes I lead and the painting follows, and other times the painting leads and I follow. I sometimes get visions of a painting in the time just before I drift off to sleep, that magical, silver moment, and I try to capture that vision and remember it for later.