Photo of me from 2016. Glasses are darker, background is faded out & has a purple hue. Mouth is open in surprise.

1st Newsletter

Photo is of me from 2016 - I'm so young!

I decided to post each newsletter in full on this blog around a month or two after I send it, so here's Newsletter #1!

Welcome to the first outtake of Jenny G’s Super Arty Newsletter! I reserve the right to change this name :). I’d love for this to be a space where we can share ideas. Right now, it’ll have to be by emailing me comments/suggestions/ideas for this topic, alternate topics, corrections, thoughts, questions, or whatever you can think of! Some ideas I have are to address specific mediums & artists, artists using specific mediums, contemporary art in general, current art shows, creativity, making stuff, interviews with artists at the start of their career, artists in art school, artists in business, artists who have other careers, artists who don’t consider themselves artists, artists and accessibility/disability, artists making art about queer topics, artists making work from a bipoc lens, from an immigrant lens, artistic process, & the big one - inspiration.

Feel free to skip this part, but I thought some people might want to know who this person is that’s writing this newsletter. I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, went to high school there, took lots of art classes, made sure I could still take art classes at the college I chose, but I definitely WAS NOT going to be an art major. I went to college at the University of California at Santa Barbara, my first drawing teacher was nice to me & told me I should be an art major, I said “really?” & here we are. It didn’t take much convincing, either because this was what I was meant to do or because I was an impressionable kid who lapped up any positive attention paid to me. Luckily for me, my parents were very supportive - they were both very artistic & creative themselves. I moved to Los Angeles after college, after sending SLIDES! of my art to all the creature effects houses. I finally got an internship at one, except it wasn’t really a creature effects house, they did model-making for movies & commercials. So, I became a model maker, building scale models of buildings & such. I learned a ton & got to go on movie sets, it was a great after-college, live-in-LA experience, but I needed to go back home to Chicago.

My friend in LA had taught me enough Adobe Photoshop & Quark! (my designer nerds, remember Quark??) to get a job as an in-house Graphic designer for a toy distributor in the late 90s. I taught myself enough Web design to feel confident pretending to know what I was doing to get freelance jobs designing websites. I figured things out as I needed. I got another job as a Graphic designer in a real design job, but I realized it was not my passion & so I was always going to just be okay at it. A social worker friend of mine & I applied to teach an art & writing class for teens at this after-school program. It was going to be so cool - but they said they wanted me to have teaching experience. So I applied to grad school at Columbia College Chicago in the Interdisciplinary Art Education program. I figured I would get a couple of years of teaching experience in a public school, we could teach this class & I could open a community art center. 19 years later, I finally resigned from teaching so I could open an Art space that offers classes, art supplies & has a community component (not sure what this looks like exactly). I loved teaching high schoolers & I hope I can continue, just in a different environment. And now that I’m older, I thought it could be fun to add other adults in there too.

Let’s talk about inspiration. This is something I want to get into with other artists, but thought I’d take a stab at it. The first thing we need when we want to make something is an idea. Some people are under the impression that an idea needs to be “deep” & “meaningful”. Those ideas are great, but not necessary. You can also start with whatever is in front of you, like that chair you sit in 7 hours a day, or that apple you’re about to take a bite of, that pen you are writing with, the glasses that are on top of your head because you can no longer read this newsletter with them on your face (all which you’ll find are probably incidentally meaningful). You can start with a medium, like acrylic paint, charcoal, relief printmaking, gouache paint, etc. What do you want to learn about your chosen medium? How to mix colors better? How to draw feet? How to do a reduction print (I speak from experience here), how to pronounce it (I’m looking at you, Mom)? Try combining the medium with the subject. Now, perhaps try repeating the subject multiple times, either exactly in the same way or from various viewpoints. Try stacking several of the objects & using those as your subject. Can you build an idea you’re satisfied with this way? What if its utility or function is your inspiration? What if you just want to embellish a tea towel? Will you use embroidery? Dye? Appliqué? Do you need to learn the thing? Watch tutorials on YouTube. Follow artists who are doing that thing on Instagram. ASK QUESTIONS. Most makers are happy to answer unless they have so many followers who have so many questions it becomes untenable for them.

As you make & learn stuff (the learning is not limited to art), you might want to try to make your art more meaningful. But perhaps it’s just how you’re looking at it. That drawing of that chair that you sit in 7 hours a day that you repeated on your page might be about work. Or it might be about movement or lack of it. Or how you used to move. So, it might be about time, the passing of time, or aging. Try turning what you made upside down. Did it change? Did it stay the same? If we’re still talking about that chair, how does turning it upside down change its function? Is it still useful as a chair? Is it something new?

I have lots more thoughts on this subject, but it’s already kinda getting away from me, so I’ll stop here. I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts on inspiration. Do you have a certain way you get the juices flowing? Thoughts on how to just start? Do you hype yourself up with music? Start the flow with meditation? Treat it like a job & start every day at a certain time whether you want to or not? Draw in your sketchbook, until you feel like your sketchbook pages can’t hold a particular idea? Email your thoughts so other people can get inspired from them!

Let’s learn about a complementary contemporary artist in each issue (CCA)! I thought of this artwork that I saw a long time ago at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Too on the nose? I must have been thinking about this when I talked about stacking chairs. Art has a way of creeping into the crevices of our minds. I think one of the interesting ideas here, is what type of chairs/tables/bookcases he is using. They look like objects you’d find in a school. So, what does that add to your understanding of this work? This is in addition to what we already talked about above - how has the function of these normally utilitarian objects been altered? If we think about just these two things, what might the artist be trying to start a conversation about? 


Sculpture of chairs & tables stacked on top of each other. Looks like they are from an elementary school.

Humberto Diaz, Failed Dream, 2019, Used furniture and objects. Havana, Cuba

Alright,  that’s it for now. Have an arty week.


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