Happy November 1st and All Souls Day! I'm really feeling the end of the year this week and contemplating what a year it's been. Part of that has me thinking about Identity this morning.

I think identity has a lot to do with my depression.  If you don't know who you are, then you are going to always try to fit into someone else's idea of who you are. And you will fail.  And you will feel like you are not good enough.  And I have never felt good enough.

I won't bore you with my life long history of trying to fit in, to be perfect, to be popular, blah blah blah. I'll just say that it seems to be a theme in my life, all my life. It's exhausting. And when you finally realize you don't want to try anymore, you realize you don't really know who you and where you fit it.  It's lonely and depressing. 

I guess I've always known a few parts of my identity. I'm a daughter.  But then my mother died and that part of my identity was severed. I'm still a daughter to my father. But my identity as my mother's daughter doesn't exist any longer. And it's weird.  So I'm trying to concentrate on a newly found hugely important part of me. I'm an artist. I don't know what kind of artist I am yet.  I paint happy puppies. But I also paint the dark macabre. Both are a part of me.  I'm thankful I have art in my life so I can explore who I am. And I hope my work can help me find my identity.  It's what I plan to work on this next year.  And maybe someday soon, I'll know exactly who I am and I'll be ok with myself.


Depression and creativity

I suffer from depression.

I'm prone to melancholy. I'm moody. I'm highly sensitive.  I cry a lot. 

I've had bouts of mild depression since I was a child.  It runs in my family (whether they want to admit it or not).  It's not constant. There are days, months, years when I'm mostly "happy".  But about every 3 years, something triggers and I fall into a depression.   I could probably name every trigger and every instant of depression.  The latest was triggered by the loss of my mom in November of last year.

If you've never been depressed, clinically depressed... it's hard to describe. It's different for everyone. But for me, my main "symptom" is the complete lack of desire to do anything that usually makes me happy.  I know things are bad when I don't want to read, hang out with friends, or most importantly...paint.  I'm sad when I'm not creative.

Since the day my mom died, I've started tons of little craft projects.  I see them as a way to be creative and keep my mind busy. I bought a ton of yarn and started and stopped at least 5 different knitting/crocheting projects.  I bought 4 adult coloring books with the fanciest markers I could find.  I might have completed one page.  I bought tons of fabric with the idea that I was gonna start making my own clothes. I made one ugly shirt.  I've bought and started at least 3 cross stitch patterns.  None are complete. 

It's odd. I want to paint. But I can't. I can do small works in short bursts of time. I push myself to do these things. Maybe to help me remember how much I love it.  But it doesn't last long. This is why I really haven't painted much this year.

These bouts last about a year or so. I'm on medication. It helps. Without it, I'd spend most days in bed. I'm hopeful. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm going to a painting retreat with my mentor and a group of very talented women next month. I'm hoping that experience sparks my painting desire again. 

I wasn't sure if I should share this or not.  But depression is a part of me, a part of who I am. It's the reason I can't fully express myself in paint right now.  

If you suffer from depression, or know someone who does, please know you are not alone.  Seek help. Talk to someone. 

If you need immediate help, PLEASE call 1-800-273-8255.





Time flies...

The saying is true. Time does fly when you're having fun!!

It's been way too long since I last wrote a post. So much has changed.  Here's a quick overview....

Quit my day job to begin painting full time, took a painting workshop in Raleigh, NC with Jeanne Bessette and 7 wonderful, amazing women, was in a couple shows, decided to focus on portraits.

Next on the horizon...

Heartfest, a fine art show is coming up the first weekend in February at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines, Iowa.  I will be there selling my animal portraits. I've applied to 2 other shows around Iowa this summer and I hope to be accepted.  My commission calendar is slowly filling up. Please contact me if you have any questions or are interested in hiring me.

I'll try to be a bit better on the blog posts. What can I say? I'm a painter, not a writer!! :)



Be careful what you wish for....

..cuz you just might get it. I think that's how the saying goes. Though I think you're supposed to use that saying when you're not happy with what you've wished for.   I'm the complete opposite. I'm extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way in the last month.

It's been a very busy month for me.  In June, I was getting ready for my first "real" art show,  ArtFest Midwest. It was held at the Varied Industries building at the beautiful Iowa State Fairgrounds on June 28th and 29th.  Wow, what an experience!  I met so many interesting people, vendors and customers both.  I even sold a few pieces. :) I had more people tell me how happy my work made them. That's a wonderful thing to hear. My favorite comment of the weekend was "Your work has such great energy! I just want to stand in your booth and absorb the happy!"  Awesome.

My booth. Basic and does the job! Come in and absorb the happy!

My booth. Basic and does the job! Come in and absorb the happy!

Right after ArtFest, I got a call from a friend of mine who is the co-founder of City Sounds, a project to put public pianos in Des Moines, asking if I would be interested in painting one of the pianos. Ummm, HELL YES!  So I quickly got to work on that project.  Again, another fantastic learning experience!  Having never painted what is basically outdoor furniture, I had to reach out to other artists online and do a lot of research thru Google university, to figure out the best way to tackle the piano.  But basically since the piano is outside 24/7 and this is Iowa, it will not last forever. And it's not supposed to.  The other piano was done by Jon Pearson and Rachel Buse with Art Beacon.  Their piano is located on E.4th and Locust, across from the yummy Zombie Burger.  My piano is located outside the Des Moines Public Library.  Both will be out until mid October. If you're in town, stop and play!!

Workers installing the piano at the Central Des Moines Public Library

Workers installing the piano at the Central Des Moines Public Library

And last but certainly not least, I was interviewed this morning for a weekly local TV segment called "In The Artist's Studio".  I'll post a link to that when it's available!

Wow, seriously, be careful what you wish for! Because if you want something, you can have it! I wanted to be "out there" with my art and here I am! 

Playing around

The last couple of weeks I've been continuing with my journey of letting go. I'm playing with colors, adding new textures to the paintings using papers, doodling.  It's been fun. I've created about 12 pieces, all fairly small, in this style.  All are pretty basic color combinations and all figure a natural element, like flowers and leaves. Not sure if I will continue on with this particular style or if it was a stepping stone to the next. I love these moments of manic creativity!

The Journey Journal

My last post was about trying to let go of the need for perfection and to just experience the painting as it is.  It's been a huge struggle for me. The first couple paintings were incredible. Then the critic in my head showed up. I'm not giving up though!

I recently signed up for an artist's workshop in September. It's all the way in North Carolina...which means I'll have to fly to get there. And I HATE to fly.  Like, I need to be medicated.  So, you know I must really want  to go since I've overlooked that whole flying thing!! The workshop will be total immersion into abstract painting. I have no experience in abstract so I'm anxious but excited.

Since I'm also very impatient and don't want to wait until September to learn, I've been watching a lot of videos on YouTube about intuitive and abstract painting. One artist in particular named Donna Downey does a weekly vlog called "Inspiration Wednesday". She paints in a journal with all sorts of fun stuff.  I thought it was a great idea and playing in a journal will be easier for me then a canvas. Canvases can be intimidating.

So today I did my first experiment with a new journal. It was extremely fun and frustrating to do.  I originally thought I'd do a journal entry once a week like the artist. But considering I'm so new, I might try for 3 times a week.

Here is the end result today.  I used my favorite colors so I wouldn't over think things. I need to work on not letting the colors get muddy.

5-26-14 journal

5-26-14 journal

Letting go

I belong to an online artists group on Facebook. It has really been a source of inspiration for me. It's a place where we can share techniques, business tips, and just plain vent. It was created by artist Jeanne Bessette.  She's an amazing artist, mentor and teacher.  You should check out her work!!

Anyway,  I've been artistically blocked for a few weeks. I've been constantly questioning my choices, my techniques, basically everything about me as an artist.  Everything I talked about in my last post.  I haven't even been able to enter the studio. I walk in and walk right back out.

Yesterday, after reading so many posts from other artists about just letting go, I decided to do just that.  I grabbed a canvas I had already started work on and wasn't happy with where it was going.  I covered in in yellow gesso because I've realized a plain white canvas scares the crap out of me. Then I just sat there and stared. And stared. And stared some more. Forcing myself to stay in the room.

So I turned on some obnoxious dance music. I love me some Ke$ha. I took my favorite blue and put a ton of it on my palette. I closed my eyes, stuck my fingers in that paint and just started playing.

AND IT WAS FANTASTIC!!! The second I applied that paint, I was lost. Lost in the paint, the colors, the textures, and music.  A little voice in my head tried to bring up all my insecurities but I told her to shut the fuck up. And I continued. And I let go. And I painted from ME.

Below is the end result. And I love it.

Love Tsunami  24"x 24" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas  $1150

Love Tsunami

24"x 24" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas


Managing Separate Art Styles?

This week has been a roller-coaster ride!! I was very fortunate to be accepted in to 3 art shows this spring. I'm so excited and nervous but most of all, happy! 

But I find myself questioning my art. I was accepted into those shows with my whimsical art.  I started making those as a "break" from my "serious" artwork.  I love making them, but I don't want to be known only for those works. 

Am I the only artist out there who has two very separate styles? And how do I successfully manage and market both? 

Would love to hear from others about this!!

Contest winner

Last year I held a Facebook contest in order to get more followers.

Whoever brought the most people to my page, would win a free 12" x 12" portrait.

Well, after a too long of a wait, I have finally completed the portrait! He's the father of my good friend and muse, Tress. I hope she likes it!!!

I painted him on a wood panel. Wood panel is a new thing for me. I love the smoothness of it. I also love how the grain of the wood comes through the paint when you look at it from certain angles.

I knew Tress, of anyone I know, would be the most receptive to me trying out the experiment on her.

The final product!  12"x12" acrylic on wood panel

The final product!

12"x12" acrylic on wood panel

Tress's dad, the reference photo

Tress's dad, the reference photo

King George

Too many months ago I was hired to paint The Beatles.  I say too many months because it's taking me too long to complete!!  It's so intimidating to paint the portraits of 4 legends!

So far, I've only completed George Harrison. He was my favorite Beatle and I really wish I would have had the chance to see him perform live.

I love the touch of purple in the corner!


The bookworm

I completed the below painting today.  She doesn't have the usual first name title. I found the inspiration photo on the internet and there was no name listed. She reminds me of a sexy librarian.  Or perhaps I'm stereotyping women who wear glasses and have their hair up!

This painting went fairly quickly. It took about 16 hours to complete.  I really enjoyed painting her. I love the contrasts of the blue, black and red.   

She's hanging in my kitchen right now.  And I kinda don't want to sell her!!  I did list some prints on page.  Otherwise, the original is going to hang out at my house for a while :)

The Bookworm  12 x 24 Acrylic of gallery wrapped canvas

The Bookworm

12 x 24 Acrylic of gallery wrapped canvas

Contest Time

It's time for a Facebook contest!! 

I would like to get more traffic to my page and subsequently, drum up some more business.   I'm asking for people to "like" my artist pge and refer their friends.  Whoever refers the most people by October 31st, will receive a 12 x 12 portrait.  The portrait can be a person or animal.   12 x 12 portraits are a $96 value, so in my opinion, well worth bugging your friends to like my page.

Contest Rules: 

1. Make sure YOU like my artist page!  

2. Refer your friends to also like my page:  JenniferBoes-Artist

3. Those friends MUST post a comment with your name so I know who referred them. 

4.  At midnight, October 31st, I'll tally the results and whoever wins will be contacted     the next day, November 1st. 

5.  Send me a good quality photo of the portrait you want painted by November 7th and I'll get to work!

6.  Delivery can not be guaranteed by a certain date. If we have trouble communicating about what you want or you take longer getting a photo to me, the longer the portrait will take!   I usually can get them completed within 30 days.

7.  You get the portrait and are so happy you cry with joy.  And I do a happy dance since I made someone smile! 

Questions? Contact me!! Don't be shy! 


Busy busy busy

Yea, I've been busy.  And that's a good thing!!  A few weeks ago I hung my paintings are Ritual Cafe for my very first public showing.  I was so nervous and excited.   Below is the main wall and I'm pretty proud! 

Main wall at Ritual Cafe

Main wall at Ritual Cafe

I was very lucky with the timing of the show.  The end of June is the annual Des Moines Arts Festival which happens right across the street from the cafe.  So it was like vending at the Fest but without the hassle and cost of applying!  This weekend is the annual 80/35 Music Festival, also happening right across the street from the cafe.  Again, a lot of exposure!  The paintings will be up until July 31st, if you're in town, go get a delicious coffee and vegan treat and see my paintings!!

Getting ready

I'm getting ready for my very first real public showing.  Which means I'm spending approximately 95% of my time twitting out and 5% actually working!

I'm super excited and super worried.  The same old nagging thoughts are going through my head. "Are you ready?" "Are you good enough?" "What if no one likes your work?" "What if no one shows up to your opening reception?" "Are you just crazy to think you can do this?". I could go on and on with what my ego keeps yelling at me.  But then I tell myself,  "I just have to do this". I HAVE to put myself out there. I'm already out here in internetland. Now it's time to be real.  No regrets.

If you're in the Des Moines area, I would love for you to stop in and see my paintings. They will be on display at Ritual Cafe from June 14th until July 31st.  The opening reception is on Saturday June 15th from 4 pm - 6pm.  

It's official

I signed up for my very first art festival today. It's official....I might just be legit. It's scheduled for May 25th so I better get my ass in gear and figure out a display, oh and yea, get some paintings completed!! YIKES!

East Side Art Festival on May 25th in Des Moines

Painting a Bob

It occurred to me today how frustrating my painting process is. But I think that's part of what I like.  When I first start a painting, I get extremely annoyed because I can't seem to "see" the finished project yet.  I start to question my talent and wonder if I should just give up, sell my paints and move on. Yes, I'm that dramatic.

But then, I persevere. I take a break and come back to the painting and just tell myself to complete it, even if it's crap.  But sometime in the third day, I start to "see" what I was hoping to see in the first place and I get excited to finish it.   As weird as it sounds, I think I enjoy that high I get after the low. 

Here's the latest painting.  I'm entering him in my first group show next week.

He's available as a print at my Society6 page

Bob Dylan   18 x 24 Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

Bob Dylan

18 x 24 Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

I'm crazy and I like it!

I guess I must be losing my mind.  But I'm ok with it.  Today I was approached with another possible commission.  Two portraits of two very beautiful little girls.  I already have one in the works. Oh and I have a show in 2 weeks and instead of just showing a completed piece, I've decided to start a new portrait.  All this while working full time at a boring desk job and being a wife and mom.  Yep. I'm nuts.... and I like it!

She's finally done...

Today I made it a priority to finally finish my painting of Tress.  Tress is one of the best people I know.  I met her 20-mumble mumble years ago at college.  The first day of class (art history class to be exact!), a girl walks up to me and asks me about my t-shirt. I was wearing a Lollapalooza t-shirt. That t-shirt made me a lot of friends. I miss that shirt.

Anyway,  we struck up a conversation about our mutual love of Perry Farrell and I'm so glad I did.  I haven't seen Tress since college but we've kept in touch through email and facebook.  She is by far the nicest, kindest, generous and loveliest person I know.  I think she's beautiful, so I needed to paint her.  She doesn't know. :)

So.... I give you....a sneak peak... of.... Tress

Full view is available in Portraits