Jen Smith

Charcoal and mixed media on custom wood panels

When I draw I push for hitting those sweet spots that end up really telling the story or giving the viewer a strong response.

Drawing to me is like stepping into a very hyper focused altered state. It always has been.

I work on custom wood panels built by my husband that I often apply white paint to and then sand off to let the wood grain show through. My subjects are showcased almost exclusively on this background. I also will occasionally work directly on the wood surface. Most of my work is black and white and very bold and contrasting with color only occasionally finding its way in.

I look at my subject often as a dynamic landscape with peaks and valleys, canyons and crevices. I loosely lay in the structural line and then come back in to develop and really hit hard with the boldness of contrast and softness of the charcoal. I like adding intricate detail with the sharpness of a bold stroke but I also enjoy completely smudging or removing the laid down mark to create atmosphere and movement. Drawing for me is often showing up to see how what I put down ends up telling me to do. It is often an experiment of pure chaos to actually get to the finished piece. It is not always planned how it will turn out but I generally do have a very vivid visualization of the way it will look before it’s completion.

My goal is to get my audience as fired up as I am about the natural world around me. I love the details and beautiful contrast of the subjects that inspire me. Anything from a simple feather to an intricate nest. I have no other option but to react to my world through drawing.

The world stops me continuously in my tracks. It holds me in wonder and curiosity, emotionally affected. That ultimately is how I hope my audience receives my work, captivated and held in a moment in time.

-Jen Smith

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