The Painterly Colorist Works of Jennifer Lommers Courtney Hayes October 15, 2015 ART, POPULAR Jennifer Lommers is a best selling artist from the Pacific Northwest whose love for hiking and the great outdoors influence her colorful-yet-earthy paintings. She paints every day in her studio and storefront, Studio 262 Gallery, and working with local artist communities. Below she shares how her past influenced her present, where her joy in painting comes from, and the colors she steers clear of. Anitas Poppies by Jennifer Lommers via Great BIG Canvas Surround Yourself: Tell us a little bit about yourself—how did you get into art as a career? Jennifer Lommers: When I graduated with a Fine Art Degree there were few options for artists to make a living at what they do. The internet was brand new, and sharing your art was a very tedious and personal thing to do. There were no “followers” or “likes” – there was schlepping a portfolio from gallery to gallery and hoping your work caught someone’s eye. For a new artist trying to get noticed, it was difficult. Having just graduated from college with some experience in computers and technology, however, enabled me to grow with that industry as it was exploding into a necessary tool for businesses. I ended up in Information Technology for several years, until the stress of that environment became too much, and I found a need to return to art making. I had never thought of myself as a big risk taker, but after sharing my art at a few festivals and finding a market online, I decided to take the plunge and work on making my art my career. I am very grateful to the many art collectors and supporters who have enabled me to become a full time artist going on 10 years now. Botanical Abstracts No 1 by Jennifer Lommers and Carrie Tasman via Imagekind SY: You consider yourself a “painterly colorist.” What separates a painter from a colorist? JL: The question should be what combines a painter and colorist? My joy in painting comes from the love of splashing the paint on the canvas and playing with the colors as they develop and interact with each other. Those quick, fat, brushstrokes were often referred to as “painterly” by my professors, and I have stuck with that term. I also like to use vivid colors in unusual combinations and work to make them harmonious despite their brightness. An Afternoon at the Park by Jennifer Lommers via Great BIG Canvas SY: Do you have a favorite space or studio where you create new pieces? JL: I am grateful to have opened up my own studio space this past year inside the gallery & art store that I own and operate. I have been able to share my art, my process, and my consistent work ethic by being open to the public 5 days a week. I have recently also welcomed in another artist, Carrie Tasman, into the studio, and have thoroughly enjoyed painting side by side with her (as well as creating collaborative work together!) This experience has provided me with new energy and and new outlook on my art. Jennifer Lommers and Carrie Tasman in the studio via Jennifer Lommers SY: Are there any colors that are off limits to you? JL: Funnily, there have been colors I avoided – pink and blue being the most obvious. I tend to keep my blues more turquoise, as I enjoy warmer colors. Lately, however, I have grown to accept more colors into my palette from my experience working with Carrie as we would trade paintings and work to resolve each other’s progress. SY: What’s the most challenging part of being an artist? JL: For me, the most challenging part is educating the public on what it takes in both skill and dedication to be making art full time. Art making is often seen (and certainly can be) a hobby, and therefore not having the same value as other professions. I dedicate a lot of time to educate people about art making as a profession and the importance of seeing artists as professionals. And, that artists have hobbies too. Wildflowers in Blue by Jennifer Lommers via Imagekind SY: You mentioned you’re an avid hiker. How does hiking play into your creativity? JL: Connecting to the outdoors has always been a big part of my life. My parents took my family camping to the Oregon Coast every summer when I was young and we often hiked around the Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier, often with a local butterfly enthusiast (and biologist) who would identify all the butterflies for us. Since childhood, I have collected bird books and have enjoyed bird identification, have drawn or photographed the plants I find, and have picked up bugs and critters of all kinds (although I don’t handle snakes anymore after picking up one who must have encountered a smelly muskrat or some such critter). I have always loved the sounds and sights of nature and try to make that experience a part of my everyday life, whether it’s hiking with my friends or my dog, or seeing the imagery of nature whirling around in my head as I paint – these are the things that put my mind at peace and give me hope and happiness. My latest “i am” series explores that connection even more as I see myself as the beings inhabiting nature. Jennifer Lommers in the studio via Jennifer Lommers SY: What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year—whether it’s with your artwork or anything exciting happening in your life? JL: I have a new series of art in the works that’s been brewing in my head for a couple years. It will require me to travel a bit and paint in more remote places as well as paint larger works up to 8 ft long. I’m still in the planning stages, and will need need to be accomplished in between travels to art festivals too, but I am hopeful that 2016 will be the year I get started on this new stage of my career. SY: Do you have a favorite piece or one you’re most proud of? JL: Another of my series related to my childhood is my “Fragaria” series all about the summers I spent with my family in my grandparents’ ramshackle little beach house on stilts in the tiny community of Fragaria on the Puget Sound. (This series is still in progress.) We would spend our days on the water in a little row boat fishing for Rock Cod or catching jelly fish. I tried to express my connection to these years and to the people who made them special with these paintings. The Tides Will Take Me Home is one of my most personal expressions of this experience, and where I started using hand carved stamps and acrylic transfers drawings in my work – all of which make this piece very special to me. The Tides Will Take Me Home by Jennifer Lommers via Imagekind SY: Anything else we should know? JL: I also found a major shift in my life and in my connection to the world after I came back from traveling to Germany when I was in college. I spent 5 weeks traveling on my own with a backpack and a Eurorail pass staying at Youth Hostels and meeting people from all over the world. Most memorably, I was in Germany when the wall came down and quickly hopped on a train to Berlin to see history in the making. On the way back I was in a train car with a family from East Germany who was traveling to the West to see their family for the first time since the war. They only spoke German and Russian. I spoke some German and English. I translated their story to the other Americans in the train car as they shared their cherry Schnapps with everyone in celebration. They later wrote me a letter (in German) with a picture of them on their family farm in East Germany. It was this experience that woke me up to the world around me and caused me to develop a love of travel and an interest in and compassion for the human story. It is part of why I so love the art festival experience and traveling from show to show meeting new artists and patrons and sharing my art with the world. Jennifer Lommers via Jennifer Lommers Thanks, Jennifer! Shop the full collection from Jennifer Lommers here and learn more about her store here.