Jenny Belin is a redheaded, Los Angeles expatriate. She began taking art classes when she was very young, and then studied art more seriously in high school and college. She graduated from Skidmore College, with a bachelor's degree in painting, and then moved to New York City, where she currently resides Her work is largely autobiographical, inspired by the photographs and diaries that she kept when she was a child. She has worked as a professional artist for fifteen years. Her drawings have appeared in the New Yorker and in the NY Daily News. She has exhibited her work both in New York and Los Angeles. She also shows her work at the Brooklyn Collective, a community based art collective in the neighborhood where she lives. In addition she has spent the last several years running her own pet portrait business which has provided an opportunity for her to meet many wonderful neighborhood and celebrity pets.
What do you find interesting about painting portraits?
In general, I am easily charmed and highly attracted to all kinds of people. I think that the portraiture I do is narrative. There is usually a story that I'm trying to relate, which is based on the impressions I have of someones personality and mood. My hope is to create an emotional portrait, and one that honestly conveys a piece of a person's individuality.
When I am given a commission to paint a portrait of an animal, my first concern is to capture the likeness of the subject that I am hired to paint. Just like I do with people, It is important to show an animal's personality and unique character. "Personality" might not be the right word here... But I am an animal person, and I have always felt that animals have their own individual personalities, psychologies and temperaments. An animal portrait should give insights into charm and character just as much as any other kind of portrait should.
I mostly work from photographs. I always ask my clients to send a few different pictures. I ask for favorite pictures, ones that are special to the pet owner. I also want to hear the stories behind the photos that are sent to me. I usually work from a combination of different images
What do you like about working with water based materials acrylics, gouache, and watercolor paints?
Gouache, acrylics and inks are all familiar to me. With the commissions that I do, I often have tight deadlines, and so water based paint makes the most sense-when I send a painting off in the mail, I need for it to be completely dry!
I learned to love gouache during a year I spent in college, when I studied painting in Paris. There is something really lovely and fluid about Gouache, especially when it is wet. Oil paint is a lot of fun too, I would like to start using oils again in the future. But I also hesitate to use it in my home. I'd make big messes, and then probably blame them on my cat!
Many thanks to Jenny for sharing her fantastic portraits and animal paintings.
What do you think of Jenny's paintings?