My name’s Jenna Lechner (follow me on Instagram, Behance, Visit my Website, and check out my shop on Society6!), and I’m an illustrator and art instructor based in Portland, Oregon. I grew up in eastern Montana, and I’ve been making art since as long as I can remember. I’m excited to be on Doodlewash and share in this rich art community!
Like a lot of other artists on the blog, I’ve always loved drawing and have always carried around a book where I would collect my doodles. In 2010, I received a BFA degree in printmaking from the University of Oregon in Eugene. In college, I studied a lot of contemporary fine art and avant garde work, but a couple years after graduating, I got a job as a full-time illustrator with a stationery company. I slowly began to realize that I was happiest when I was drawing pictures and working in a more traditional way—I also began to realize that it was actually possible to make a living doing it!
Now as a freelance illustrator, I do drawings for newspapers, magazines, branding, and packaging, and surface design patterns. I’ve made art for people like Adobe, Pentel Arts, HTC mobile, the Portland Mercury, the Cleaver Quarterly, ArtAsiaPacific Magazine, and other peeps.
I started doing watercolor in my last year of college. I spent a lot of time studying and copying artists who were great at ink and watercolor: people like Francisco de Goya, and J.M.W. Turner. I still spend a lot of time with art history and reference books (I’ve never been the kind of person who can work from my head completely).
I love how watercolor is somewhat unpredictable, yet forgiving, and so affordable and portable. I like its soft effects and how atmospheric it can be. I’m also drawn to it because it was considered an outsider and a hobbyist’s art for so long—i.e., in the past, REAL art had to be done with oil paint. (I guess I’m the type to root for the underdog.) I also like that it is a natural extension from drawing—it pairs really well with pencil, pen, and other mediums. I’m particularly inclined to do intense linework, so this is perfect for me.
When I sit down to work with watercolor, one thing I do as a warm-up in the studio is create simple geometric repeat patterns, just to get my brush moving and my work flowing. It can be as simple as creating a series of polka dots with watercolor. Sometimes I expand this exercise and make more complicated patterns, in which case, I scan my images and create seamless repeats using Photoshop and Illustrator.
Creating these patterns helps me to think merely about form, color, and abstraction. It helps me let go of some of the more fussy aspects of proportions and perspective (which sometimes I get really hung up on), and it helps me to loosen up, and lighten up my illustration. When I teach watercolor classes, this is a great exercise to start with for beginner students. It allows them to let go and embrace the joy and process of watercolor!