We are thrilled to have Jenny Cochran Lee as our next artist in our 2015 series of Art Lessons: Color Explorations. Some of you might be familiar with Jenny's videos, "Add to, Undo, & Redo: Stress-free Collage Techniques" and "Collage in the Round." If you're new to Jenny's work, you're in for a treat. Her use of color and mixed-media techniques is refreshing, appealing, and approachable. Jenny's May lesson, Pastels with a Punch, is all about creating sewn paper flowers from monoprinted deli paper. So. Much. Fun.
We caught up with Jenny and asked her a few questions about her background, her life as an artist, and her Art Lessons. Don't miss the sneak peak of June's Art Lesson at the end! ~ Jeannine
Q. Are you a self-taught artist or have you had formal art training?
A. I have taken art lessons off and on throughout my life, but I am mostly self-taught. My mom got me started with sewing and embroidery and she always encouraged any creative interest. I've always been interested in learning new techniques, so I take classes in many different areas. Even though I mostly work with paper and paint, I recently took a pottery class and taught myself how to crochet using books and the Internet. Even though I don't use these techniques in my core artwork, they inspire me to look at my work in new ways and keep me focused on the joy of creating.
Q. Your color sense is unique-you innately know how to use colors to make certain collage elements pop, and you pair colors most would never think of. Where does this color sense come from?
A. I am not a technical person, so I rarely look at a color wheel or think about color theory. I choose colors based on how they work together and how those combinations make me feel. I also think I am drawn to color combinations that I notice in the world around me-both in the natural world (June bug wings, mangos, or bright yellow pine pollen collecting on my car windshield) and the world I see online or in magazines (old quilts, the latest Anthropologie catalogue, or paint swatches at the home improvement store.) I've got a keen visual memory, so I think these colors just stick in my brain and sit there, waiting to be used.
Q. What is your approach to using color when you're creating a collage or working in your art journal?
A. I typically do not have an end color theme in mind. I usually start with a lighter favorite like turquoise or yellow and then start adding fabric scraps and paper scraps. As I add scraps, I notice color combinations and contrasts that randomly occur. I make my next color choices based upon what is happening on the canvas or paper.
Q. You seem pretty fearless when it comes to manipulating paper, incorporating unusual elements in collages, and trying new techniques. Have you always approached art this way?
A. For many years, I thought my art needed to look like "art." I struggled with drawing and painting in traditional styles. I also got bored with it. One day I just realized that life was too short to make art I didn't enjoy. Even if my art were bad, it would make me happy. Since then, I've always made art an adventure and followed that I-wonder-what-would-happen-if kind of spirit.
Q. What do people have to look forward to with your series of four Art Lessons?
A. I think my lessons will encourage artists to take a playful approach to art and to try new tools, techniques and colors.
Q. I know you're encouraging people to join your Facebook group, Art Lessons with Jenny Cochran Lee–what will they get out of being part of the group?
A. I'll be available to answer questions and offer help if anyone is struggling. I also think group members will enjoy seeing what other artists are doing and how they are adding their own spin to the lesson.
Thanks, Jenny! Now, here's that sneak peek of the June lesson, due out soon! You won't want to miss it!