“Practice, practice, practice…” were the three magic words my Papa, Chester Glenn Hawk, would say and it worked in any and every situation. No matter how frustrated, motivated or scared I was, it was all I needed to hear when I wasn’t feeling good enough. And, as an artist, it’s very easy to feel that way. He was the greatest and most creative man I will ever know and the number one reason why I fell in love with art and continue to create it.
When I was eight, I realized just how powerful art was, how much it truly meant to me and how much I needed it. Ms. Thompson, my third grade teacher was another important person to me because she took a genuine interest in me and my art when I was still so young. She supported and encouraged me to “draw it out” whenever words would fail me. I was painfully shy growing up and speaking up in any situation would terrify me. It still does, but whenever I could draw it out, it made all the difference.
My name is Jenny. I’m Asian American, born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis in printmaking and sculpture. Naturally, I’m a very precise and technical artist. Colors intimidated me and drawing without a ruler was always a scary concept, until I found watercolors. The nature of watercolor allows me to be free. It forces me to think and create organic and loosely. It’s challenging and freeing all at the same time and I love how unpredictable the medium can be and how it can’t be controlled.
I work in a pretty organized chaos which I feel most of us can relate to. I’m not sure what kind of brushes I use, but I have them pictured throughout my Instagram page! I typically go back and fourth with 2 or 3 different sized pointed tip brushes. I’ve had my brushes for years and most of them barely stay on the handle because I leave them soaking in water for way too long.
I am currently painting with Reeves and Winsor & Newton Cotman on Canson’s Cold Press watercolor paper that I pick up at my local craft stores. I draw with a mechanical pencil I found on the ground years ago to lightly sketch out my ideas and my ideas evolve from a combination of quick Google searches and memory. As an artist, there are two things in this world that I need.
Number one, great music. I have been listening to the “Dear Evan Hansen” soundtrack on repeat for over a month now, but my other go-to’s are Gavin Degraw, Justin Nozuka or Country. The second thing I need is a dirty, muddy watercolor palette. I think the most beautiful and warmest earth tones are created that way. I connect most to warm and neutral tones so I tend to gravitate towards images with that same color palette.
Lately I’ve started with very diluted colors that I use to create a rough shape of my subject(s). I then go back by subtly adding more concentrated colors and layers to build shape and form. I think of each layer as if I were to physically sculpt it out of clay. To finish my paintings I like to add and fine tune highlights and details with a white and/or black gel pen or ink and I take photos of my paintings using the camera on my Samsung Note 9.
I’m still finding my style as a watercolorist, but I think it’s natural and important for an artist’s style and process to change. Currently, I am in love with the minimal, fluid and loose watercolor styles that I’m seeing all over Instagram and YouTube. I am so inspired by Charlie and everyone in this watercolor community and in awe of the talent and creativity I see everyday. I am honored to be apart of this amazing group of artists and I pull inspiration from all of it. It’s a frightening and intimidating process to put yourself out there for the entire world to see while at the same time creating an open forum for critiques and criticism, but it’s helped me grow and gain the confidence to keep going, to keep practicing.
I’m an artist because that is what connects me to the world. It’s become the language I speak and the culture I love. Art allows me to create a world for myself that I can get lost in, it challenges me and motivates me. It’s an expression of my failures, successes, heartbreak, love and everything in between. And, if I didn’t have the people around me to support that, I don’t really know where I would be.
This world needs more art in any and all forms. I don’t think my Papa or Ms. Thompson will really ever know how much of an impact they made in my life, but I hope one day I’m able to make a fraction of a difference for someone else. I want to support, motivate and inspire aspiring artists to follow their art path, to hold on to it, and never let it go. And to always practice, practice, practice.