One of our favorite people, Jenna Alexander is having an art show Thursday, October 26 in St. Augustine and in anticipation we asked her a few questions:
We saw on Instagram the oyster that was the inspiration for these paintings, did you find them in St. Augustine?
Yes! All the oysters I paint from come straight out of Salt Run, which is the body of water that runs by the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Anastasia State Park. My husband learned how to oyster last year, got his permit, and I think we had over twenty oyster roasts last winter. As we were gathered around the table with neighbors, I announced that my next series of paintings will be based off oyster shells! My sweet neighbor Amy, chimed in, “And you should name it Salt Run Series!”
There is a lot of conversation about working mothers and finding the balance. Can you tell us when you found time to paint with two littles and what it meant to you?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in balancing work with having two little kids (3 and 9 months), is separating the two completely. In the past, I’ve tried to multitask work and spending time with my children, and it led to frustration and tears! Now, I leave to go the studio three days a week while my trusty in-laws watch the kids, and I paint at the studio.
The other two days a week and weekends are 100% spent with my kids. I feel a lot more peace now that I’ve separated the two, and I’ve found that I can fully enjoy the moment in front of me.
Are there any days you were stuck? If yes, how did you get your mojo back?
I announced in February 2017 that I was doing a series of oyster paintings, and it started with a small watercolor illustration. I then began working on canvas with oil paintings, which is a completely different medium than watercolor. It took a while to figure out how to make that same affect on an canvas, and at the same time I felt pressured to get it right, because I had already announced my series. Needless to say, I worked through the process, and am in love with the final product. On one particular day, I felt pretty discouraged by my paintings. I looked up out of my studio (which is attached to a cafe, Juniper Market), and low and behold, a fellow mother and artist from Connecticut that I admire was standing outside my studio! She listened to my frustration, and gave me helpful feedback, and encouraged me to keep going. I will never forget her words, “Paint what you want to paint sooner.”
Was painting oysters harder or easier than some of your other works? The series of kids in Africa? The Naptime series? Etc?
My work varies, and I’d say these oyster painting are more gestural and loose compared to my other work. I do reference the oyster shells when I paint, but a lot of the organic shapes are free flowing, so some come out of my head. In my portraits and botanical series, I am much more focused, and constantly studying and analyzing. The oyster paintings have given me a chance to loosen up in my style and enjoy the act of painting.
In your Naptime series the process of tea-dying paper might not be obvious to the casual viewer but clearly adds texture and depth to the series. Are there any unique touches we should pay attention to for the Salt Run?
The Salt Run oil paintings are finished with gold ink as well as an iridescent gloss, so in the right light, you get a shimmer!
How many original paintings are there in the series? If I can’t get the painted versions what are my choices?
There will be fifteen original oil paintings, and I’m hoping to have at least ten original watercolor paintings. Canvas prints and paper prints will be available for purchase as well.
Do you have plans to do more?
I think I will be painting oysters for awhile, based off the feedback I’ve gotten so far.
The details of the show :
Salt Run Series by Jenna Alexander
Original oil paintings based on oyster shells from Salt Run