Illustrative Journeys with Artist Jenny BriggsJun 28, 2016 04:48PM ● By David Norby
Artwork photo courtesy of Jenny Briggs.
A passion to paint wasn’t something Jenny Briggs uncovered until years of perfecting color theory through quilting. The artist—known for her ability to effortlessly capture the stories of creatures (whether two legged, four legged or beaked) simply living their lives—is also a member of the Folsom Arts Association. Her work is showcased on her website, at her home gallery, and in Scottsdale, Arizona’s Xanadu Gallery. “I believe that every painting I create is meant for someone in particular, even when I don’t know who that person is,” shares Briggs. “I think of them as I paint—I’m excited for them and imagine their smiles when they find or receive it—and that makes me smile.”
HLB: Describe the story-within-a-story that you create?
JB: I love telling a story with my art. I hope I encourage viewers to either superimpose their own memories into the picture or speculate about the characters and use their imaginations to decide for themselves what the story is. I like to attract [people] with the focal point and then encourage them to stroll around and see what else is going on.
HLB: Elaborate on your “color of the air” technique you’ve taught in workshops.
JB: I show my students how to use color to create an atmosphere that ties the whole piece together. They create a ground color of their choice, which determines the hues, tones and values for the entire painting and connects the different elements into one piece.
HLB: What led you to pick up a paintbrush?
JB: When I was a youngster, I liked to paint but didn’t know I loved it. As an adult, I became an expert quilter—with appliqué work being my favorite type of quilting—and decided to take a drawing class, [so I could] learn to draw my own patterns. It was in this class (with pastels) that I realized I loved to paint and wanted to paint in oils.
HLB: What allure do living creatures as subjects have for you?
JB: I’m fascinated by creatures of all kinds, whether human, animal or bird—we’re all special in our own way—each an individual. I study the anatomy, musculature and skeletal structure of my subjects, as well as their behavioral traits. Wildlife [is especially captivating], as they don’t worry about how they look or what others think; people are more complicated, and so very interesting!
HLB: Do you have any favorite spots for inspiration?
JB: The wetland walking trails we have in Folsom are fabulous, with a variety of birds and animals. Early spring has great opportunities for taking photographs, with the vernal pools attracting large birds like egrets. Lately I’ve been [asked to go to] local ranches and photograph the working activities, thus leading to the creation of several paintings. I love the friendly, neighborly, family atmosphere at these events.
HLB: What’s the best artistic advice you’ve gotten?
JB: Early in my career I studied with Ric Leandro, who’d studied in Europe with some of the masters. He taught me that I should learn all I can and use what I want, but paint like myself and not like anyone else—thereby developing my own personal style.