Osechi Illustration by Jiaqi He (PenelopeLovePrints) - Doodlewash

GUEST ARTIST: “My Whimsical Journey” by Jiaqi He

Hello everyone, my name is Jiaqi He (Jackie). A Chicago-based artist and owner of PenelopeLovePrints. I was born in Guangzhou, China and moved to the United States when I was 16.

Ever since I was little I have always loved the look of watercolor. I’ve never painted watercolor before and it wasn’t until my last year of high school that I experimented with watercolor. At first, I didn’t know what I was doing, however, I enjoyed expressing myself with it and fell in love with the unpredictability of watercolor. Since it was just an introduction in high school, I was never able to get really far with it.

La Cat Ensemble Illustration by Jiaqi He (PenelopeLovePrints) - Doodlewash
La Cat Ensemble

By the time I enrolled in college, I began painting digitally because it was a “thing” everyone else was doing. Class work revolved around teaching Photoshop and it was naturally something I adapted to. Personally though, It never felt quite “right” when painting digitally; I hadn’t even considered using primarily traditional art mediums at this time.

It wasn’t until four years ago, in 2015, that I started painting watercolor again for my brand. At first, I tried using Photoshop to mimic the effect of watercolor using textures and brushes. It was pretty, efficient, and allowed full control over my art. However, there wasn’t a sense of satisfaction in digital watercolor art compared to painting traditionally with paper and brushes.

Kiki Sleepy Town Illustration by Jiaqi He (PenelopeLovePrints) - Doodlewash
Kiki Sleepy Town

Since I am a self-taught watercolor artist, I am still unsure of how to describe my work process. I learned the basics from watching lots of speed painting videos online as well as reading a few watercolor textbooks. For brushes, I have no preference, and use the cheapest watercolor brushes bought on sale, but for paint, I like Holbein and Daniel Smith brands the most. My favorite paper is cold press Fluid watercolor, it comes in a block and I can paint right away. And last but not least, I always add highlights with Dr. Ph Martin’s bleed proof white paint, my all-time favorite white paint.

As an avid food lover, I am passionate about food and I paint a lot of food. A lot of food, like a lot, lot. I love the vibrant colors, the beautiful styling and everything about food –dessert especially fascinates me. One of my hobbies is to go on Pinterest or Instagram to collect all kinds of food photographs and paint them whenever I have time.

I also enjoy adding little animals to my food art. The juxtaposition of a tiny bear sitting on top of a giant piece of cake amuses me, something doesn’t belong together yet they look harmonious with one another.

Since I make my living selling artwork at various conventions, my audience also has an effect on my artwork. I do not take commissions, but I started to be mindful about what kind of subject matter may be more popular among my fans. As a commercial artist, it is always tricky to find the balance between what I want to paint and what people are interested in.

Mononke Painting by Jiaqi He (PenelopeLovePrints) - Doodlewash
Mononke Painting

But as I’ve learned over the past few years, the art I am passionately creating will find me the most loyal audience in the end. It is encouraging to know that many people love my art and are inspired by my creations. Every day, it motivates me to learn new things and improve myself. I can’t wait to see how my art will evolve in a couple of years.

Jiaqi He (Jackie)

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