Introducing Local Artist… Jenny Hobbs

Hi Jenny - thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed by For The LOVE Of ART for our local artist interview series as part of our monthly blog! You’re our very first interviewee and we are super excited so let’s start with the basics… how did you get into Art?

Jenny: My first reaction to this question is as long as I can remember I have always been into art. As a child all I wanted to do, and I remember at primary school I painted a picture of our cat Jess (yes he was black and white, like Postman Pat’s cat Jess), and it was considered good enough to live in the Headmistresses office. Looking back I don’t recall, as a child, how important this moment was but I know my parents did - they have always encouraged my art.

It’s so lovely to hear that your parents were encouraging of your creative talents, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that, but I think it makes a big difference - especially to confidence levels when pursuing something that is so personal.

How did you find your own style (or are you still finding it?!) and how did you invent the Swish?

Jenny: Good question and you’re right, I think every artist is searching for their style as it is always evolving. I am drawn to abstracts inspired by the colours in nature and I still feel like I’m finding what it is that makes it my style with those and having great fun doing it. As for the Swish, there I do feel like I have found my style and am focussing on that as much as I can. I think I realised a year or so ago, rather than trying lots of styles it’s better to focus in on one and see where that takes me. Once I realised this, it became apparent that once I really started to think about the amount I could do with the Swish, it was vast - so watch this space with what I have planned. I invented the Swish back in 2017, where I was playing around with paint and a palette knife and the shape just came and stuck. I love how I can move the paint around with the Swish and some of the paint mixes and some stays nice a crisp.

Jenny is the inventor of The Swish

We love your Swish too! – it is wonderfully textural and the variety of colours and references to art history are limitless! Why did you decide to do a 100-day challenge? That is quite a commitment!

Jenny: This year was the 4th year I had participated in the 100 day project and I’m already looking forward to doing it next year. It is a commitment but one I love and in fact when the project completes I miss it terribly. Initially I decided to participate as I’m a sucker for an Instagram challenge and before the 100 day project I had only ever done challenges which lasted 30 days max, so thought 100 days would be perfect. When you read the premise of the challenge, it is all about turning up to do something - anything - for 100 days. It doesn’t have to be art, it doesn’t have to take very long, it just needs to happen for 100 days. It is very relaxed, if you miss a day, start late, it doesn’t matter it’s what you learn from it that counts. I’m quite strict with it, I do start on the chosen day and make art everyday and I always learn a great deal about my work and ideas in doing it this way.

I think there’s a lot to be said for that idea of turning up every day and being accountable and I can imagine that it teaches you plenty about yourself and about the chosen challenge. This brings me to the next question, is being an artist your full-time job?

Jenny: I would love to be able to say yes to this but I have a full time job. A friend told me a good way to describe this recently that “I am an artist who happens to have a full time job”.

Haha, we love that! Perhaps the forced absence from being able to create makes you keener to get back in the studio and get your ideas down on paper? We are so interested to find out, what inspires you to make art and what is your biggest source of inspiration?

Jenny: The paint inspires me and what the palette knife can do to create juicy textural marks you want to touch. Until recently I would have said my biggest source of inspiration is nature, mainly the sea. But recently I have been using art history as my source of inspiration so actually I think Colour is my biggest source of inspiration.

We love this answer; we can learn so much from colour and from art history! It is a shame that this is not really taught much at school anymore. What was your art education like at school?

Jenny: I studied art at GCSE, A level & Foundation course level, I also studied art history & media at these levels but continued along that path at degree level.

Wow, that is a heavily creative timetable, sounds perfect! Do you think you can teach creativity then?

Jenny: Yes, why not, I think we all have it as children but some of us forget, it just takes finding something that captures your imagination creatively to realise it’s still there.

"I think we all have it [creativity] as children but some of us forget, it just takes finding something that captures your imagination creatively to realise it’s still there."

As artists, we are always trying new things – what new techniques/styles/media would you like to learn more about over the next few years?

Jenny: I have this vision of making my Swishes thicker and more sculptural somehow, I’m not entirely sure how yet but will enjoy exploring. I also have some ideas around introducing resin to my work so I am in the process of researching countless you tube videos at the moment to work out how to do that.

That sounds really interesting, we can’t wait to see what comes next for you on your creative journey! Where can we come and see your artwork and/or where can we buy your artwork/prints of your artwork?

Jenny: Currently my canvases are on show in the Picture This” Gallery in Bournemouth until 27th June and some of my Swishes are on show as part of the “Celebrating the Old, Inspiring the New” exhibition at Poole Lighthouse until 31st July. The best way to buy any art from me is through my Instagram page @jenwa_art - I do have a website but it is in its early stages at the moment.

We love your Insta account – it’s simply bursting with colour. Bit of a ‘desert island’ type silly question now, but if you could only use 1 media for the rest of your life, what would it be?!

Jenny: A small set of acrylics, a magenta, a yellow and a phthalo blue & white, it’s all you really need - you can create anything with this.

Where do you see the value of art/the arts in 21st Century society?

Jenny: Right up the top, I think you can learn so much from art - either making or viewing it. I listen to a lot of podcasts which talk about the artists working now and there is so much good work out there. The thing that strikes me the most is the variety of work out there and the elitism surrounding it is reducing which is making it accessible to so many more people.

Totally! I started For The LOVE Of ART because I have a passion for being creative and I love sharing my knowledge to see others enjoy making art and watch them progress. I think that everyone is an artist, but often people are held back because they think they are ‘bad at art’ or they feel that art isn’t accessible for them - If someone reading this would like to get into art, but is not very confident and feels a bit worried about having a go, what advice would you give to get them started?

Jenny: Have a go, don’t worry if it’s bad, even artists at the top of their game make art that they perceive as bad; you can’t make the good art without learning from the bad. I use the word perceive as what in your eyes could seem bad in someone else’s they absolutely love. Practice, my uncle (he is also an artist) said to me a few years ago, don’t worry about quality too much focus on quantity, and wow that was the best advice I could have heard, free yourself from worrying about it being “good”. Believe in your work and that will shine through.

“Even artists at the top of their game make art that they perceive as bad; you can’t make the good art without learning from the bad…free yourself from worrying about it being ‘good’.”

We couldn’t agree more - once you let go of the idea of perfection, it is truly liberating and that is when the real creativity can burst out!

To finish then, who are your favourite local (Dorset/Hampshire) artists - and why?

Jenny: Kate Marr is a fantastic local artist who creates the most beautiful landscapes and seascapes. Sarah Good creates the most incredible, high quality, fluid art, its beautiful.

Thank you so much Jenny! What fabulous answers; really thought-provoking and hopefully everyone reading this interview will feel as inspired as I do to crack on and create – maybe even committing to some kind of challenge!

Jenny is a member of PAINT Dorset - a collection of 7 artists who meet on a regular basis to talk all things art and support one another. In 2019, they put on a group show at the BIC and they all go on art trips together. Jenny says, “It’s really great to find your tribe, as they say. I’m sure lots of artists have supportive families, but really art isn’t their passion so finding a group of people who get it is a game changer.”

Jenny Hobbs is an abstract painter based in Dorset on the South Coast. As mentioned above, you can find Jenny’s artwork on Instagram @jenwa_art , Facebook - Jenwa Art and on her Website - www.jenwaart.co.uk.