Obstacles and Inspiration: Featuring Jen Tolman
Jen Tolman is an artist we've been working with for over a year now. The first painting she brought us, "Beacon of Light", was a small painting of the Savior. We were immediately taken by the gentleness and humility with which she portrays Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, our customers were too: the painting sold within 24 hours. Since then, Jen has been working to complete a show for our gallery, so with much anticipation, we introduce you to Jen Tolman, our featured artist this August.
Jen, your paintings have such a unique looseness and airiness about them. Does this reflect a certain creative process you use when painting? Where do your ideas come from?
Meditation and listening to something inspiring are both ways that influence where my ideas come from. Hardships and trials have often felt like the biggest problems getting in my way, but they’ve also been my main source of inspiration for my artwork.
When I am working on a piece, it is very important that I have my space clean and that I’m not stressed or rushed. If there are negative emotions going on I just can’t paint and choose not to paint.
My mood, cleanliness, beauty around me, (whether that’s just a light airy place to paint in, or surrounded by artist friends, or nature) is how I keep my mind fresh and ready to put my brush on the canvas.
What brought you to painting?
I’ve kind of always felt this need deep down inside to do spiritual paintings since I can remember. I mostly used pencils growing up, but when I was in Jr. High, my art teacher introduced me to oils, and I was hooked. I was inspired most by religious art and at that time I only really remember Walter Rane and Greg Olsen being the main religious painters I knew of. Walter Rane's work was completely captivating and inspiring to me.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to become the painter you are?
For me personally it’s been the obstacle of my health that has brought me to be the type of painter that I am. Anywhere from the ideas I come up with or even the style or way I paint has all been a directly influenced from it. I’ve learned to paint cleanly and intentionally with my strokes so I don’t get paint on me (I used to be the messiest painter and paint got everywhere). I’ve also learned to paint loosely because otherwise my carpal tunnel can flare up. Those are just some examples.
What do you believe the role of art is in the home?
Art is SO important in the home. It can uplift, it can connect with someone who is feeling a specific emotion or going through something in particular, and original art teaches. There really is a code of learning ingrained in originals that you can’t get from a print. Why do artists study originals? There was a thought process and learning curve that had to be figured out in order to create the piece and I feel like you can see that when you look at the brush strokes close up and the genuine paint colors applied. So much knowledge is instilled in originals and that spirit of learning is there. It’s also influential like music.
What paintings have been the most personally moving to you?
A lot of paintings that have inspired me the most are paintings that have been done of Christ. When the Carl Bloch originals were showing at the Museum of Art at BYU, I went and viewed them and I was drawn to tears. There are also several other paintings that evoke emotions in me that are really moving; “She Will Find What Is Lost” by Brian Kershisnik is a deeply touching piece.
What paintings do you remember from your family home?
I don’t come from a “artful” family, so there wasn’t a lot of art in our house unless it was from children’s books, but there was a print my mom had hung in our house by Greg Olsen of a angel with a little girl. I loved that print and would look at it often.
What paintings do you have currently in your home?
I love the textures and depth from real paintings, so most pieces I have hanging are originals done by artists I admire, or pieces that I just love. I also have my own artwork of spiritual works and ocean paintings up as well. And I have a print of Christ by Joseph Brickey and one by Minerva Teichert.
Join us Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 4-7pm for the opening reception.