Jeanette is a super awesome artist I found on Etsy last fall. I wanted to commission some paintings for my critique partners inspired by their novels, and she basically read my crazy-person mind to get them just right. It’s been a lovely experience working with her, and she did a fantastic job. She even agreed to let me interview her!
These are a few of Jeanette’s favorite things…
Book: The Stand
Song: Eleanor Rigby
Show: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Movie: Fight Club. I know I’ve never even remotely been the target audience for this movie, but I love it’s cynicism and dark humor.
Fairytale: The Little Mermaid, both the Disney and original Hans Christian Andersen version
Motivational Quote: “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” -Bob Ross
Buffy AND The Little Mermaid—a girl after my own heart!
What does your art mean to you?
I don’t have a ton of sentimental attachment to my work, except that I want it to look good. I paint because I enjoy it. I’m not trying to make a big important statement. I don’t think my art will change the world. I just want to make something aesthetically pleasing, something fun to look at.
What medium/media do you prefer to work with?
I work mostly with acrylics, with markers and pens sometimes thrown in. I’d love to work with oil paints more, but they stay wet and malleable for up to six months, and I just don’t have the room to let them sit out.
Who is your biggest artistic influence? Why?
Weird as it sounds, I’m pretty sure I’ve been more influenced by art teachers than anyone famous, especially my high school art teacher, Eric Kuehn. He taught me most of the basic rules of composition and design, and when I screw up, it’s usually his voice that I hear words of criticism or encouragement in.
What’s the one piece of art you’d love to own?
Do you have any other hobbies?
I read a lot – sci-fi, fantasy, a little horror – and I’m starting to get back in to comic books, but only in trade paperbacks or graphic novels, so I can cherry pick the good stuff. I do some pretty nerdy tabletop gaming, although I haven’t mustered up the courage to go full D&D yet. Oh, and I spend way too much time on the internet. I guess that’s a hobby.
It’s totally a hobby. Describe that moment when you knew you were an artist—when you knew that this is what you’re meant to be doing with your life.
Is that a feeling I’m supposed to have…? Honestly, I don’t know if this is what I’m meant to be doing with my life, but I like doing it. It’s extremely gratifying to hear when other people like my work too, especially when they like it enough to spend their money on it. That still blows my mind.
I browse a lot of other art and color palettes. Usually an interesting color palette will inspire me, and then I’ll try to figure out what to do with it. When I do character or any kind of representational work, I start with a vague idea of what I want and then just collect a ton of references until something clicks.
And what keeps you motivated?
Etsy, Facebook, friends and family, and clients… basically just knowing that there are people out there who want and even expect to see new stuff from me.
What kind of music puts you in the mood while you’re painting?
I typically either listen to 60s and 70s type rock – The Beatles, Queen, The Rolling Stones – or to a customized Pandora station that I don’t know what the genre is called – Fiona Apple, Ben Folds, Muse, Regina Spektor.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got a small series (4 paintings) of baby dragons that I’m working on, a set of 3 baby elephant paintings commissioned for a girl’s nursery that are “due” in May, and maybe a few 80s cartoon nostalgia pieces that are ruminating.
Do you work on multiple projects at once or focus on one at a time?
I usually have several things in various stages of progress at a time, although saying I work on them all at once may be stretching it a bit.
Some kind of comic book probably. Time would definitely have to not be an issue, because I work crazy slow.
What about when you get stuck? What keeps you going?
I stop and step back. That may sound like a terrible cop-out, but it’s way worse to keep working on something when I’m frustrated with it. If I can’t tell what is wrong with a painting, I take a photo of it and look at that instead of the physical painting. I’m not sure why, but there’s something about getting that kind of distance from a piece that allows me to see errors better. And then, after a day or so of not painting (mostly ;)) and only looking, I can usually get back into a painting without too much trouble.
What do you think is the hardest thing about painting? The easiest?
The hardest part for me is keeping it simple and deciding it’s done. There always seems to be one more thing I can add, one little something that doesn’t look quite right. And I don’t know if this is the easiest part, but my favorite is mixing and combining colors. There’s something very satisfying about getting the right color combination to pop on canvas.
Do you have any painting or drawing books you’d recommend to those just starting out?
I had a ton of specialized “Draw the Marvel Way” type books when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend any of them. They’re more about developing style than skill.
Look at things. Collect references and inspiration. If you want to draw or paint a horse, don’t just assume you know what it looks like. Get as many pictures of horses as you can, study them, and look at them while you work. Google is your friend.
Great advice! Thanks so much Jeanette! We can’t wait to see what you paint next!
If you’d like to check out more of Jeanette’s work, you can find her here:
Jeanette Koch is a full-time geek who makes her spending money as a Pharmacy Technician. Sources close to her claim that she was born an overly friendly talker, but years of practice have enabled her to grow into a healthy, well-adjusted introvert. She has three friends, watches cartoons and comic book movies, and falls asleep on the couch by 9 pm. Like a rock star.