Thursday, June 3, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Jen Finch

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Jen's painting "Blooming Kalanchoe" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Jen's DPW Gallery Page:

Starlight Finches is the name for the art by Finch Jen Volkening. Finch is an artist from Austin, Texas. She has a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas and has lived all over the United States, including Hawai'i, Oregon, North Carolina, and Washington DC. She is influenced by many years of working with children, all of the art she has ever seen, and a love for nature and getting 'lost' on a trail. Her work is inspired by the interplay of what is wild and what is safe; what is real and what is imagined.

What did you want to be growing up?

I don’t think I ever identified with wanting to be something in particular, but I knew I wanted to have animals around me and live close to the mountains and woods. Some combination of author and person who takes care of baby animals, I think.

When did your artistic journey begin?

When I was a child, I used to love to write, especially describing imaginary worlds and animals. I was basically painting with words. I used to love going to bed because that was the time I would ‘write’ in my head. I would get so excited about these ideas that I would have a hard time getting to sleep. That creative space before falling asleep was probably the root of my artistic life.

Blooming Kalanchoe
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Jen's interview.

Did you have long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I have definitely had times when my creative expression has been dormant or on hold. In the past ten years this has been related to moving, my work-life being out of balance in favor of work, and studying to get my AMI diploma or other kinds of certifications that aren’t necessarily artistic. Usually those times are followed by other times when the creativity bursts out once my mind can finally sit still… like one of those cartoons where a kid cleans their room and shoves everything in the closet, but then the mess ends up pushing it’s way out in a huge heap. I’m definitely working on regulating this cycle.  

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

I have always gravitated towards 2 dimensional art and 4d art (video/simple animation). That third dimension has always felt out of my grasp, although I love ceramics and the challenge of wheel-throwing. That speaks more to my own strengths and limitations as a visualizer than an actual preference. I love paint, color, glaze, lines, charcoal, graphite… things that feel very direct and accessible.

Half Moon Lizard
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

I still feel like I am in that process now. I get inspired very easily, so for me the challenge is to sit still and put my compositions to paper before another wave of inspiration washes the first one way. It feels like an ongoing balance between inspiration and output, or imagination and order. I feel like I am at the beginning of that now.

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

I admire so many artists! Off the top of my head Robyn O’neil, Julie Speed, Jessie Homer French and Sascha Gordon. I’m drawn to how these artists mix vast space with flat sort of illustrative/hyper detailed qualities. I love how their paintings go beyond the description and become the story in and of themselves, if that makes any sense.

Dark Peony
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

Maybe to have learned more about the business aspect of the art world before I graduated from art school. (I probably wouldn’t have listened 😊)

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

I think that sometimes it’s okay to embrace and maybe even important to give in to procrastination. Sometimes what I really need to do is go on a walk or sleep on an idea before it’s put into action. But if there is a deadline involved or the procrastination goes beyond a day or two, my strategy is to prepare my workspace (clear the table, find music, light a candle), go drink coffee or tea, and then sit down and just start on some aspect that is accessible. Like choosing colors or sketching a thumbnail. My dog really likes to nap next to me while I work, so that’s good motivation as well.

Half Moon Birds
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

I also think sometimes it’s okay to take a few days and sit with the negative emotions around doubt and really name what they are and where they came from. It’s part of the process of knowing yourself and what you are afraid of. Once a thing is named and known, it’s a lot easier to keep the overwhelm at bay.  After that, I think movement is helpful, especially swimming because you’re physically propelling through a barrier. Then I move into my same strategy for defeating procrastination, setting a space and sitting down so that my dog can nap peacefully 😊 If the adversity is less emotional in nature, then it’s time to get resourceful and problem solve based on the situation and what is available and possible.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

My long term goal is to try to be a good and truthful person each day and have a body of work, including larger paintings, that I feel proud of. My short term goals are pretty task based and mundane… but those little goals are crucial and add up like a jar of change. Today I have a short term goal to finish work at my day job, finish this interview, buy a meterstick at Home Depot and roast these vegetables that have been sitting in the fridge for a few days before they go bad.

Clover Bee
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

Success to me means that I am living a life where I am engaged in meaningful work while as much as possible living in harmony with others and especially the environment.

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

I don’t know about the proudest one, but I felt really proud after I recently finished building my website. I don’t know how to code, but I decided not to use a template because I had a vision for how I wanted it to look (very 2010s), and I was super happy with how it turned out, even though it still looks weird on different phone screens. I also felt proud of the animal moon series I created last year (2020) amidst quite a bit of chaos. They started out as little paintings I made on ceramic cups with underglaze in 2014, and I loved seeing them hold such a large flat space as paintings. I really hope they make it out into the world!

Crescent Moon Deer
(click to view)

Thanks, Jen!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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