Wolf in Acrylic
Interview with Jenny Heidewald
Interview with Jenny HeidewaldArtist Spotlight
by Constanza Ehrenhaus
Tell us what made you become an artist.
This is one of my favorite stories to tell, because I remember the exact moment that I decided I wanted to be an artist! When I was in the fourth year of my life (or early fifth age, I am not quite sure), I saw my mom drawing the Hand of God reaching through the clouds to people below. I was amazed; it seemed to be magic, an image appearing where there had been nothing before. I said to myself, "I want to do THAT!" So, God literally had a hand in it.
What are your tools of choice?
.005 mechanical pencil with HB lead, kneaded eraser, Pigma Micron pens in all the colors, Strathmore Bristol paper. I use a 12 Pelikan Watercolor Paint Pan Set, with a couple Holbein pan colors (Indanthrone/delft blue is the best color for shadows), and a tube of a rose color. I use a #5 Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Art Brush, and the best paper I have found is Fabriano extra-white, hot press. I also utilize my printer in my works, once I get my design finalized I'll print it on Fabriano paper, re-ink my lines then paint. The printer that I have has water-soluble ink, which is nice; when I want to do some art without hard lines, I can blend those out.
Why do you favor colorful line art instead of fully colored work?
I gravitated towards inked line art because it is the best way to get a scanner to pick up the picture. In addition, I am a messy sketcher and end up with lines all over the place, so it is easier to ink the ones I want and then erase everything else. The kneaded eraser is THE best eraser for this; it leaves no crumbs. I have to be careful to let the pen dry a bit before I erase because the pen has smeared on occasion; I think it is because of the pencil underneath. I eventually got bored with just black all the time, and started experimenting with colors. The yellow pen is the only one that I have trouble with scanning, since it is so light. Pigma Micron pens are archival, and fade proof, which is important to me. Unfortunately, they only have fourteen colors, which is limiting at times. I also use Faber Castell Brush markers, but they have much larger tips, and I do a lot of detail work. Another thing about line art is that it is fast to complete most of the time. I have a limited amount of attention and patience these days, if I don't get something done right away there is a chance that it will never get done.
Tell us about your Sketchfest self imposed challenges of taking up so many prompts per session.
I am not quite sure when that started happening! I do know that discovering how great ACEO size (2.5 x 3.5") is to work with was a huge factor. I can complete smaller works faster. At the beginning I'd try to do a round number, around twenty each time. Then someone, I think it was artist Sarah Aiston, jokingly asked me if I'd done my fifty sketches yet, and I said, "Is that a challenge?" This was back when Sketchfest was only twenty-four hours long, so I really had to hustle to get fifty! That is the highest number I've done, though my husband asked me a few months ago, "Are you done with your one hundred sketches yet?"
Is that a challenge?
I haven't gotten that far yet, because I stocked up on sketches to do while Ellen was on maternity leave, and I need to finish those first before I take on doing one hundred! It is in the back of my mind though, maybe in December. Sketchfest is such an awesome thing, thank you to Ellen for coming up with it! I also have to say thank you to all the fans of my work, because if the ACEO's haven't been selling so well (I donate half the proceeds to Sketchfest or EMG-Zine), then I'd probably be doing less art.
Tell our readers about your work at EMG-Zine. How long have you been doing it? How do you come up with the topics?
I did one walkthrough in 2006 with the painting Absolute Matte. After that I'd just submitted art here and there until July 2010. Since then I have only missed three months. I think Ellen had asked me if I could write about framing, so that is what I started with. It has been my only two-part article for EMG-Zine; I wanted to be thorough! I hadn't submitted any other articles because I figured I didn't have anything to write about that would be useful for folks; then I decided I would just write about the theme. Some were easy, like roses; others it took me some time to figure an exact subject. "Games", for example -- I struggled with that one before deciding on archery.
There are times when the subject ended up being so broad that I'd get overwhelmed and had to focus one part. For the theme African Mythology I became fascinated with the cultures that live in the Omo Valley and decided to do an "African Skin Walkthrough" in their style instead of trying to make sense of all the different myths of Africa.
Another factor in starting my EMG-Zine writing career was that I wanted to save up enough to have Ellen design a website for me. When she was doing awards for the one-year anniversary of Sketchfest, she totally surprised me with the prize of her designing a website for me (still in the works on my end)! I donated what money I had earned from the articles back to EMG-Zine, but writing had become a habit, and procrastinating on writing as well. Part of the reason for the procrastination is that I am terribly detail-orientated and it takes a lot of time; sometimes I don't feel up to it. I usually end up with a ton of reference books from the library, and lots of web research before I am happy with what I have written. It's a lot of work and concentration, but it's important to me that my facts are correct, and sometimes it's hard to figure out who has the correct facts. I'll be the first one to admit it is stressful at times working on a deadline, but I've learned a lot, and I wouldn't trade the experience.
I have to give a huge thank you to our editor Jennifer Broschinsky, who has put up with my many extension requests! Also, thank you to my husband, Alexander D. Mitchell, a professional writer, who co-wrote the "Aquatic Monsters" article, and is my editor. I am sorry for the torment, my dear; one of these days I'll get the hang of semi-colon use!
What would you like to achieve with your work?
Gosh, I've never really thought about that. For the EMG-Zine articles it is easy -- I want to help others with the subjects, kind of like a "Cliff Notes" version. I used to hope to achieve realism, so that I could draw a real looking elf. *Laughs* Since my art is mainly something I do as a creative outlet, I guess mostly what I try to do is achieve a quirky uniqueness. I like to look at regular subjects from a different angle; try to come up with something quirky or hilarious, or better yet, both. One of the artists I really admire is our own Ursula Vernon; her bighorn pears are so cute and crack me up at the same time. What a brilliant mind!
What is your dream job?
This is a tough question; I've been trying to figure it out for most of my life! When I was asked in the fifth grade, what I wanted to do when I grew up I was flummoxed as well, and said "a horse trainer". My little sister grew up to be that. Me -- I turned into an artist. I guess ideally it would be where I could draw whatever I wanted, and get paid really well for it, so then I could procrastinate to my heart's content. I've also thought that being an animator would be cool; the new CGI stuff is amazing! I've always wanted to make a movie; I'd need a good story first though.
Then there is archeology, though I know there is more tedium than discoveries. I love ancient places, and dinosaurs, the past has always fascinated me. Along that line I have toyed with the idea of becoming a conservator, I love restoring old photos, and fixing things. I also think it would be cool to be a gardener. Framing is neat too, I like seeing all the art, also working at an art supply store was awesome, getting to see all the cool supplies, and learning about them. I like being able to help people, too, feeling useful is great.
What is with Tangled?
That goes back quite a ways! I was obsessed with princesses when I was little, and they "always" had long blonde hair. I fixated on Rapunzel because of her beautiful hair. I'd had an ad of a Rapunzel figurine that had the most beautiful hair; I can't find it now, since it was so long ago. It has been a life long goal of mine to have hair down to the floor, so I've never had a haircut, though I've gotten trims, and I did have bangs when I was little. I grew up in Arizona where the dry heat didn't really like my hair that much. In Maryland it is doing a lot better; right now it is to the middle of my thighs when wet. I'll admit to being jealous of the ladies who have long, thick hair, since mine is a little scraggly.
Over the years I was thinking that it wasn't fair that Disney hadn't done a movie on Rapunzel yet, and when I discovered that they were finally going to make one it was an instant obsession. The original film was going to be Rococo/Baroque themed, which is one of my favorites; unfortunately, they switched it a bit. I am glad they didn't keep the original story line though, which was something like Rapunzel got turned into a squirrel?
I identify with Rapunzel as well, up in her tower watching the world go by. I have some quibbles with Disney on how they portrayed their Rapunzel after she got out of her tower; I have to keep reminding myself it's just one interpretation of a story! It is hard not to nit pick something dear to one's heart.
I loooove drawing long hair, all those ways to style it, or swirl it around the picture, not to mention it can cover up pesky shoulders. With Rapunzel it is a little difficult because my yellow pen doesn't really show up, and I end up using orange in addition to it.
Where to find Jenny's work:
Facebook album for the Steam dreaming coloring book art I did.
And various other galleries for you to look through :)
Sketch Fest Gallery
Portrait Adoption Gallery
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