Interview and photos by Steev Riccardo
A few days before Webster artist and poet JenniFire D’Andrea had a meet-and-greet at the Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster, we were able to get together and talk about what makes this unique and talented artist tick.
Although it was only recently that I discovered the work of JenniFire, thanks to Deb Horan at the Booklover’s Gourmet, we found that we had an immediate connection—or maybe several.
We both love music, both are writers, and both grew up in the same neighborhood on High Street in Webster. Therefore, we were able to connect and talk at length about just about any topic.
JenniFire’s work is simply electrifying. She is a fantastic artist, on the verge of something really special. Here is our interview straight off the tape.
SR: How did you get started? Was it writing or painting first?
JF: It was always drawing and sketching since I was nine. That is the earliest I can remember.
SR: What or who were you influenced by?
JF: My Dad was into art a lot. He did a lot of murals for people in their houses. He was a hippie. In exchange for sleeping in their house and meals, he would paint their walls. Sometimes he would bring me along and I would get to see it and I always thought it was so cool.
SR: So would you say your father was your biggest influence indirectly?
JF: Yes. He would always tell me to be creative, he would say to me be independent. He would talk to me like I was an adult and made me feel equal. He would really encourage me, he was really cool. (Jenni’s father Edward Boucher passed away several years ago.)
SR: When you started creating was it more as a poet or a painter?
JF: It was more as a painter. I started to use paints after I started sketching things. I did a few watercolors and they came out really nice and realistic. I actually hadn’t even been in painting class in high school because the teacher didn’t want me. She said I was dreaming and wasn’t good enough.
SR: So the art teacher didn’t get you.
JF: No, she didn’t get my style; it made me want to prove to her that I was good anyway, no matter what she said.
SR: We won’t mention her name then (laughs).
SR: What was it like for you going to Bartlett?
JF: It was just a place to pass time. It was just friends. I went through the motions, I did it, and graduated.
SR: When did you start coming into your own as an artist?
JF: I’d say around 2004 when I was in my late twenties. I was with a guy who was really supportive; we lived together for about six years and he really supported my ideas, which was something that I wasn’t use to. It was my first secure relationship. He helped me get into a better job so I was able to afford materials, and getting materials is what usually makes me feel really inspired and important. If I can get a new fresh canvas and spend my money on brushes and paints, as I was doing then, and I was producing a lot.
SR: So the support from your boyfriend helped you get what you needed to do your art?
SR: When did you start to realize that people liked your work?
JF: The first moment that I can remember was one time when I had a lot of friends over my house like, you know, a party.
SR: Was this in Webster?
JF: Yes this was in Webster and sometimes I used to do my artwork right there while everyone was having fun. I would be inspired.
SR: And just start painting? That’s cool.
JF: One time I did an oil pastel of a woman’s silhouette, a pure black silhouette of a woman with her hair flowing in the wind and it got really quiet and I looked around and everyone was staring at it.
SR: So it was your immediate peer group that made you feel that you had talent?
SR: Was there a point where you realized, ‘OK my art is really good, people might want to buy it?
JF: That happened about maybe a year ago. I started selling more, so it was more like, my goodness, people want to actually hang it on their walls. I mean, I sold a couple things here and there through the years, but recently I have been selling a lot through my Facebook page. It’s highly visible and people are sharing my art, people that enjoy my work.
SR: Before these sales started happening, how did you get your art community going?
JF: My friend Danielle and I teamed up and thought that if we get enough of our friends together and put it in a magazine it would be highly visible to everybody outside of town and in town and then maybe people would want to get together and have an art fair, but it never reached that point. The magazine (Nights And Days) did well in Worcester. We went to “Start on the Street,” an art fair, one year and we had success but we never got anything going in town. There were never enough people interested.
SR: Tell me more about your actual day-to-day inspiration. I watched the video that you have on line and I was blown away. You created a painting in less than 3 minutes. Is it always that easy for you?
JF: Yeah, I don’t know, it’s like magic. What I do is wake up early, like 4:30 or 5, have some coffee, I set up everything in the kitchen so I get the natural light coming in and then I blast my music, put whatever I am in the mood for on, and get immersed in it and that helps and then I go in and I take my colors and I just know.
SR: You mentioned lighting, is that important for you as an artist?
JF: I don’t know, you can see the color at its truest. It’s pure. I work under a lamp too, at night. Whatever kind of light I can get.
SR: Do you have any influences as far as painters go?
JF: I do, but I try to really keep away from people I am inspired by. I tried to not paint like them, but I like Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Picasso, and Monet.
SR: They all kind of had painful lives, didn’t they?
SR: What about writers or music?
JF: Pink Floyd is huge; I think they are a magical type of band. A lot of their music is locked in my paintings forever.
SR: Now I’m guessing you are more into the Syd Barrett era rather than Rogers Waters or David Gilmour version?
JF: Yes, I am more Syd Barrett definitely. He was an artist too, and he was crazy (laughs) and I can relate to his lyrics, there is something deep going on underneath that I can see.
SR: Did you lose interest in them when Syd went crazy and Roger Waters took over the writing? Did you like Animals and Wish You Were Here too?
JF: No, my favorite album is Dark Side of the Moon, I have to say. I love Animals too. I love Pink Floyd but Roger Waters is a little too stuffy for me. I didn’t lose interest in them; I just happened to really focus on the Syd era.
SR: Don’t you love how Roger always refers to Syd though, he still talks about Syd even now?
JF: Yeah, I do. I’m glad he doesn’t let him fade away. He respects him.
SR: What about writers, being a poet and all, do you have any favorites?
JF: Kurt Vonnegut, he’s awesome, I love him, and he definitely had an eye of what was going on during his time. He’s witty. I really like him. Bukowski, of course, who doesn’t?
(We pause and talk about Bukowski for a few minutes)
SR: Tell me about how you paint, your technique--
JF: I get an image in my mind of colors and patterns and of course I can’t draw it out because it’s abstract, so I have to do it right away so my abstracts are done in like ten minutes or a half an hour. I take my colors and usually put them right on the canvas and I usually use a palette knife to make thick textures and then I will scratch lines into the paint because now I have something to work with and I can either take a comb through it or take my brush and scratch lines in there and just kind of go to work on that. Whatever it is, it takes place in the space of a couple of songs.
SR: Do you ever draw with a pencil or paint with a brush?
JF: I do, but it’s rare. I have short attention spans so I don’t like to work on a painting very long. Years ago I would work on a painting for maybe a week but now my average painting is done in an hour tops.
SR: Where do you hope that your art takes you ultimately, or does that even matter to you?
JF: I don’t think it matters, I don’t think I have thought about that, I just want as many people as possible to see it. It’s as simple as that. I just want to do it and be happy and then let other people see it and be happy.
One thing is certain JenniFire has succeeded in making at least one person very happy with her art. She’s good, really good.
- Wednesday, 25 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News