Artists make art because they love it, and because they have this powerful need to produce art. But when you’re working away in your studio, it can actually be an isolating experience, if you don’t make the effort to connect with others. I’ve recently connected with many artists, from all over the world, through Kelly Rae Roberts’ online course Flying Lessons. I met a talented artist, Jenni Adkins Horne, through this class. She lives in Georgia where she creates beautiful paintings and lives an artistic life. I recently interviewed her to discover a little more about her life, her inspiration, and where her art is taking her now.
I will be posting this interview in three parts. In the first part, Jenni will tell me when she first started making art and how it has evolved over the years.
Where do you live and how long have you lived there? Is there another place which you consider your hometown?
I live in a thriving community south of Atlanta, Georgia called Newnan. We’ve lived here, in the same house, for 15 years. I was actually raised in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tell me about your family.
We have a house full of two-legged and four- legged kinds of joy! Billy and I have been married since 1996. We have two children: William who is 10 and Mailey who is 8. The four-legged members are 4 cats: AJ, Saily, Ellie and Jackson. Lily is our little love child dog….who can always be found helping me paint. We also have a dwarf hamster named Candy Corn. Needless to say I am never, ever lonely.
Do you work at a job other than making and promoting your art?
If you consider running a household a real job, then yep, I wear many hats. In all seriousness though, I have been working as an artist full-time for 2 years. I spend my days working in the studio while the children are at school. I’ve committed myself to teaching two afternoons a week at their school as well.
How would you describe yourself as an artist and the art that you do?
That is a very difficult question to tag with words. I am definitely a mixed media artist who enjoys everything from painting, sewing, jewelry making and recently embroidery. Overall, my work can be described as playful and whimsical. My most recent work with trucks, campers and bikes I have dubbed the “American Still Life”. There is something nostalgic and mysterious about their compositions, one could even say they appear lonely. Is this mirroring my life as an artist?
I do place a realm of emotions into each composition, sometimes subconsciously so. I am someone who thinks a lot, about life and my place here. I know that there are no happenstances, and that everything and everyone is placed into our lives for a specific reason (just like your meeting me during Flying Lessons…I mean how is it that out of the 500 students we found one another?). But within this life of reason, comes a beautiful journey where doors are presented, with not every experience easily navigated. There have been times in my life where I opened the wrong door, but through the experience I gained wisdom and strength. My art continues to be a journey where I open and close doors. Allowing myself the freedom to truly nurture my creative destiny has been a wonderful experience. It has been one that has led the direction of my paintings, jewelry and sculptures. There is something so pure and raw in my work. My hope is that as a viewer you can sense the honesty and vulnerabilities I am presenting and in the end can take from it a piece of the journey. And maybe, just maybe be inspired to start your own.
What type of art do you spend the most time doing?
Did you have one of those fun plastic viewfinders as a child? My creative process is much like having one of those viewfinders in my head at all times. I click from screen to screen as ideas come into focus. Since I am the one peeking into that creative viewfinder and can control the next frame, it allows me time to focus on one project for as long as I need before moving on to the next.
I see you have a degree in Fine Art. Did you always want to study art in school? What was your favorite class or project you did in art school?
I love the quote, “Sometimes on a way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.”
No, I never wanted to be an artist growing up. I dreamed my entire life of becoming an architect. Yep, just like Mr. Brady on the Brady bunch. I was not accepted into the University of Virginia’s program my first year however, so I attended Randolph Macon Women’s College. My thinking was to get one year under my belt at a prestigious Virginia school so that UVA would want to woo me on over to enter their Historic Preservation Program. They would not say no a second time. However, I took an art class as an elective and about mid-year called home and said, “Um… Mom and Dad, I think I’m going to come home and become an art major.” WHAT? You see, I had absolutely no art from grades k-12. Nope, Notta one. So this was a little out of the blue. Mom took me down to Auburn University upon my return in May. She sat with me in the Dean of Liberal Arts office as I explained what I wanted to do for the next four years at Auburn. He said I was a little behind and had no portfolio for placement. I guess my big blue eyes were just a little too eager with anticipation and creative fire because he said ok. I was the best student…working my creative spirit in all the classes. It took 4 years to graduate, but I did so Magna Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi. Since I was the only art major in my group to receive these honors I really don’t mind tooting the horn about it! My concentration was in printmaking, which is quite funny now since I’ve not touched a press in like 16 years! In fact, I never took an acrylic painting class, just two watercolor and one oil painting. I focused in the clay and printmaking studios. And now I am mostly a painter. Who’d a thought!
Tell me about the job that you had with Crayola. You’ve said that was one of the best jobs you’ve ever had.
Oh yes, this was a fabulous job! I had just opened my own art studio, The Bubble Gum Ice Cream Art Studio, when an art educator friend called and said that Crayola was looking for an art educator that could represent them at school districts across the state demonstrating the amazing products they had to offer for the classroom. It would not be a job that a full-time teacher could maintain, but they wanted someone with art teaching experience. I was so excited about this job, let me tell you. My responsibility was to focus on the regular classroom teachers showing them how they could implement all Crayola products like model magic, markers, glue (it’s the best white glue!), scissors, paints, etc into their curriculum. It was a workshop hosted during staff development days. Teachers received SDU credit for coming. I traveled the state for a year with my super fun art supplies in tow and made art with teachers. I hope that I left them a little inspired as well!
Stop by my blog later this week to see parts 2 and 3 of my interview with Jenni Adkins Horne. She'll be talking about her style of art and where she sells her art.