Artist of the Month

LaVerne Kyriss

Jenni Long worked for her dad in his photography studio in Columbus, Ohio. “I managed the business and he did the creative work,” she said, “until he decided to retire. Then I took over as the photographer. I had always explored creative endeavors and crafts, but I never considered myself an artist.”

When Long and her husband Bob decided on their own retirement, they moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. “There I started taking a series of art classes. I started with watercolor as a media and because I was painting representational works, I quickly learned that I needed to take a series of drawing classes and other basic foundational classes,” Long explained. “I was painting for fun and still did not consider myself to be an artist.”

In 2008, the Longs left the Big Island, moved back to the mainland and settled in SaddleBrooke. “By this time, I was ready to try a new media and even a new style. I have always been drawn to bright colors—particularly the red, orange and yellow hues,” she said. “I also loved abstract work with soft, flowing, blended edges, but I didn’t know how to begin. So, I took a class, actually several, through the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild.”

“Right away, I loved the freedom of working in acrylics. It was fun, easier than working in watercolor and much more relaxed. If I wanted to redo something, I could paint over it,” she explained. “The biggest benefit I got from classes was permission to begin putting paint on the canvas. I often had a hard time starting to paint.”

“Robbie Summers, a fellow guild member and mentor, also encouraged me, and many others. All the guild members have been supportive in the ten years I’ve been a member,” she reflected.

Long says color is often the driving force in the work she’s creating today. She explained that she generally works with a pretty standard palette—heavy on the red to yellow quadrant, supplemented with complementary and contrasting hues and accented with black. “I keep a color wheel out all the time. I’m constantly referring to it as I work on a piece,” she said.

“I generally know how much of the piece I want to be in the different colors and an idea of the composition I’m aiming for,” Long noted. “As I develop the painting, it begins to take form and sometimes ends up quite different than what I originally imagined. I work in multimedia so I collect various papers and objects. I love texture and have a tool kit ranging from molding paste and glass bead gels to sand.”

“The best boost for my productivity was moving my painting area into a corner of my family room. It encourages me to paint often,” Long said. “I have to be inspired to paint. I can’t force it. The beautiful surroundings outside my windows help provide that inspiration,” she smiled.

“Today, I am an artist,” Long reflected. You can find her work in the SaddleBrooke galleries and at Abstract Art in Catalina.