My paintings are psychological landscapes and emotionally complex narratives. I combine references to art history, pop culture, natural science and personal chronicles to represent the conflicts of life. The titles are important elements. Like me the stories are at once funny and sad.
Anna where are you based and what about your artistic background?
These days I spend time mostly between Atlanta, GA and a cabin in the woods of North Carolina.
As far as my training as an artist, I dropped out of college six times. There is something about the smell of an institution that is very inspiring at first and then ultimately sends me into a panic of feeling trapped. It’s not that I lack discipline or the respect of learning from those with more experience. I’m sure art school benefits many people when it comes to learning technique and making connections among other things. But, I think self-motivation and the school of hard knocks are just as key. Also for me it felt like a waste of time to pack up all my supplies and strap a 5ft x 6ft painting to the top of my car several times a week just to go in and discuss my work with bored, unfocused kids who brought in their projects in on sheets of notebook paper. Not that they were all that way, but I was in my twenties and the other students were fresh out of high school.
I had a gut instinct that I knew what I wanted to do and could do it without a traditional school environment. So I ended up using my public library card a lot!
I have this large painting in the Nasty Women show in Athens, GA opening tomorrow night June 30 at @trioathens⭐️⭐️⭐️ I also created a one-of-a-kind mini version for purchase to benefit an important Atlanta women’s health clinic! Come out to the show if you’re in the area in the coming couple weeks. What an amazing assortment of artists involved for a great cause! I can’t wait to check it out myself✨ #painting #contemporaryart #popsurrealism #nastywoman #nastywomen #marilynmonroe #marlenedietrich #marialassnig #athensga #imgonnacrawl
What about your very first approach with Art?
I always had creative inclinations.
When I was probably 6 years old I had a vision while at my friend Cecilia’s house. I turned a box fan flat on its back, laid a sheet on top and dumped an entire jumbo container of baby powder on the surface, then turned the fan on. It covered the entire room in a thick white dusting of powder.
It was glorious. Of course I was smacked by Cecilia’s mom and sent home immediately, never to be asked back. But I don’t think I liked it over there anyway, so it didn’t turn me off from art making.
What were your first artistic influences and what are the artists you admire today?
My lineage is full of creative, powerhouse women…
Somewhat eccentric in some cases, but always super intelligent and competent in numerous industrious and artistic avenues.
My mother was a self-taught master gardener, seamstress, and chef-hat worthy home cook on top of bringing home the bacon with a full time corporate job and raising four kids. Now THAT is art!
My grandmothers were also incredible.
And my father is a genius in his own kooky way. He is an engineer and carpenter who I learned so much from in the way of drafting and measuring, attention to detail while maintaining a sense of humor.
I later learned about more classical artists and am blown away by many visual artists’ “balls” and “chops” (Maria Lassnig, Dana Shutz, of course Frida Kahlo, certainly many male painters as well, but those three ladies just came to mind).
When art has become your profession?
As a young adult I completed an intensive theatre acting program in New York City.
After that I went back to school in my twenties, intending to use my enjoyment of drawing toward graphic design in order to better support my acting aspirations.
In the process during some required preliminary fine art classes, I fell in love with painting and it just took over my life. I left school at that point (around 2007), but was bound and determined to be a working visual artist no matter what.
I haven’t looked back since.
Tecnique and artistic process, main steps.
I generally start painting without any conscious intention.
A painting can begin as a figure drawing or me riffing off of a family photograph that moves me at that moment. Or I will just start mark-making and finger painting to see what memories or feelings are evoked. I go from there.
What are your main sources of inspiration in Life?
I think life is so incredibly sad and yet SO amazing and wonderful.
I love that paradox, although that in itself is gut wrenching.
A Foreboding Shadow Befell Her So She Drowned Her Future Sorrows is, at first glance, happy and bright, familial. . . love filled. But, there is major sadness or doom waiting in there. A man looking at it in Paris said aloud, “this is like a knife in my heart.” It was so touching to hear that he had such a strong response to the image. This piece is based on a found photograph of my mother holding my little sister in our childhood kitchen as I sit to the side morosely glugging a goblet of golden liquid. There is a double exposure creeping over the left side of the frame. It forebodes trouble to come. My eyes have dark circles around them, and I chose to accentuate the red-eye effect in my eyes while removing it from my sister and mom. There is also a spider hanging over my mother’s head, likely a leftover Halloween decoration but also adding an eerie sense of imminent danger.
My mom died suddenly when she was way too young. It was, of course, a terrible tragedy. It has been very difficult to accept living without her. And I had some pretty serious issues with alcohol abuse as a teenager/young adult, so the photo was telling in many ways. I just had to make a painting from it. The patterns in my work most likely stem from these times in my life when I had a living Mom and a more traditional family situation. She decorated with many competing and/or complimentary patterns. At times, it felt very busy, but there was a certain flow and comfort in the partnering and placement. I’m definitely a nostalgia junky, so things like that really get to me. I can find the ugliest thing drop-dead gorgeous if it evokes a certain feeling. . . that feeling of heartbreak in the name of love.
My paintings break my heart and save me at the same time.
Three adjectives to define your Art.
Emotionally complex, soothingly confusing (or confusingly soothing), not boring.
Sarcasm, is it a distinctive trait of your artworks?
I’m sure there is a fair amount of sarcasm in many of the paintings. I try to rein it in but can be a bit of a smart ass in general.
How much you represent yourself in your paintings?
My personality is definitely reflected in my work in that I gravitate toward combining humor and darkness, charm and indelicacy… a refined nature within or including moments of extreme mess.
I guess I find comfort in reflecting what I am experiencing in life. The most awful tragedies and atrocities surround us while simultaneous majesty of nature and human kindness occur. And I find humor in so much of civilized existence.
Life is very funny. People are absurd…our habits and hang-ups, everyone’s kooky personalities. Especially those who think they are the most normal. But, people of all walks/types respond to my paintings, which I love!
The squarest of squares and the freakiest of freaks; creative expression brings us all together to relate. It’s bigger than one person.
When you are not painting…what do you do?
My dog child, Beulah, is fighting cancer so I have her on a pretty time-consuming, meticulous regimine of immune boosters and alternative therapies. It’s almost a part time job taking care of her right now. But, she’s my best bud and has been by my side through thick and thin for ten years so it is my honor to be there for her in her time of need.
Yoga and running keep me from going down my own personal rabbit hole, so I try not to miss more than a couple days of one or the other.
I also have a spectacular human partner in crime who I spend plenty of time laughing, thinking, and loving with…I feel very blessed to have these and other supremely special individuals in my life’s orbit.
Current projects and exhibits.
I’m due for a show actually! There’s been talk of a very cool solo exhibit in Nashville, TN I am hoping will come to fruition… I do have two pieces in a fundraiser show at Trio gallery in Athens, GA to benefit a women’s health clinic as a part of their involvement in the “Nasty Women” movement.
Also have been contemplating putting on my own pop up show in Atlanta. Some of my dear friends here are world renowned rockers (to toot their horns for them) and have offered to play at the party so it will be quite a happening!
Anna’s chief characteristic and main fault.
Hopelessly romantic and hopelessly romantic.
What will you paint tomorrow?
I just hope I have a tomorrow and that I paint in it. There’s no formula. I stumble—often through great effort—onto that perfect balance of funny and sad. It’s both difficult to find and effortless. C’est la vie!
…art can be all sorts of things, but MY art allows me to survive honestly.
It provides me with hope that I might have a future which is not consumed with nearly intolerable internal discomfort.
Not to be too dramatic about it, but I definitely went through the wringer as a younger person. I had fallen off of the creative path as a teenager when I discovered drugs and alcohol.
It took me a while to find my way back to it, but ultimately art saved my life.
One of the images requested by @artmazemag for their upcoming International edition! I loved how this painting turned out after kooky many hours so it will be fun to see it in print. ‘Cheers To Chosen Family’ 48″x48″ acrylic on canvas #painting #contemporaryart #popsurrealism #popart
Un post condiviso da Anna Jensen (@annajensenart) in data: