First and foremost, I’d like to thank Charlie here at Doodlewash for inviting me to be featured on this wonderful website! My name is Jennifer Caddell, and I am currently living in Oregon with my husband, two children and a Miniature Schnauzer named Zoey (follow me on Instagram and Twitter!).
I have been drawing and painting since I was in elementary school. My father was a teacher and I would spend afternoons after school drawing and illustrating stories from my imagination on his chalkboard while he was busy grading papers. As I grew older, I was often found in my room sketching and drawing storyboards while listening to Duran Duran on my Radio Shack stereo.
When I was in high school, the school councilor gave all the students a questionnaire to help determine what occupations they had an aptitude for and unsurprisingly, mine was the visual arts. At the time, my parents viewed art as a hobby and not a career choice, and relying on their perspective, I decided to focus my efforts on education and writing.
Unfortunately, art took a back seat to these pursuits and after finishing college with a degree in English and completing the grad work I needed to be a teacher, making art became a random occurrence that only happened when I had a little extra time on my hands. During this time I often felt like I was a Jack of many trades but not an Ace at anything.
After having my two wonderful children, the urge to pursue something creative was very strong and knowing I had skills in writing and a wild imagination, I took up the keyboard and started writing fiction. I wrote both novel length stories and short stories. Two of my short stories were published in different anthologies and I felt like this was the direction I was meant to take.
But that changed one day when my husband said he thought I really should give art a second chance. Since no one had really shown any interest in my artwork before, it took a few months of him convincing me before I decided to actively pursue it. I remember one day sketching a portrait and I had tears in my eyes because I suddenly realized I found my Ace.
That was three years ago, and I have been drawing and painting rather prolifically since. During this time, I discovered how much I absolutely love watercolors. I started out using an old watercolor pencil set and enjoyed blending colors and seeing them transform when I added water to them and I still enjoy using an old Grumbacher set I’ve had for 20 years.
Recently I added a Kuretake Gansai Tambi set to my watercolor supplies and so far I enjoy using them too. I eventually plan to invest in a very nice artist quality set of watercolor paints, but for now, I am happy with what I am currently using. Since I also enjoy photography, many of my paintings and drawings come from my own photographs.
I like to start out with a sketch in graphite and gradually add layers of watercolor until the painting is finished. I like seeing the pencil sketches in my finished paintings, I feel like it gives the painting character and it shows the thought process behind the finished work.
Along with watercolor, I also enjoy using color pencil, ink, gouache, marker, acrylic and digital art. Often I am mixing more than one medium to complete a painting or illustration. Right now I still see myself as a developing artist. There is so much to learn and so many skills I wish to develop. For 2017, my goal is to focus on illustrating stories and to work on a couple of painting techniques like negative painting and the grisaille method.
Every single day I set aside time to focus on art. Most days I am in my studio sketching, drawing and painting, but there are also days when I am reading art books, watching how-to videos, and getting inspiration from artists on Instagram and websites like Doodlewash.
When I first started making art again, I used to look at the artwork of others and feel intimidated or unsure if I would ever be as good as them, but now I know better. I look at other artists and their artwork and I see it as a learning opportunity. I look at their methods and styles and feel inspired to try them myself. In doing so, I am maintaining a passion for making art and for focusing more on the process and not worrying as much about the product. In my opinion, the real joy is found in the process of making art and the development of skills that happens along the way.