Jen Dixon is an artist that sells internationally. She works mostly in mixed media, abstract and figurative painting. She is also an illustrator, writer, and teaches life-drawing weekly. We met Jen initially through Twitter where her effervescent personality pulled us in and led us to her powerful paintings! She is a creator, an artist and is prolific in her output! We loved the strength, colour and compositions displayed in her paintings.
Originally from Indiana, she is an American and British citizen, living on the North Coast of Cornwall, England. The Palette Pages are very happy to introduce and share the wonderful artwork of a truly talented artist; thanks Jen for sharing. When we’re next in the area we’re very excited about meeting Jen in her studio and sharing an extended insight into her artwork, inspirations and creative surroundings.
Self taught or art school?
I have drawn all my life and taught my first art class when I was six years old. I have a degree in Industrial Design from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh as I thought it might be a more financially responsible way to earn a living but still be creating. Needless to say, I didn’t take that path after all. Industrial Design still informs a lot of the decisions I make in my fine art, and I’m glad I mix the two.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
I love Joan Mitchell. Any of her works from the late 1950s through the 1960s would be wonderful to have, but I’m drawn to Untitled, 1958, Oil on canvas 74.6 x 76.2 cm. It’s plate 19 in Jane Livingston’s book on Mitchell.
How would you describe your style?
My style varies, but mostly I’m an expressionist oil painter. Splotches, drips, swipes and scribbles. The illustration work I do tends to be more precise, with lots of pen and ink. My drawing is often very expressive and whether I’m working figuratively or more abstract, there is a kind of chaos trying to push through. I find mixed media work satisfying as well.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
I’m a book nerd, and collect art books as much as I can afford. Being able to curl up with a book from the MOMA before bed is my idea of heaven and I like the idea that the greats might settle in my subconscious mind over night. Don’t get me wrong though, seeing a work in person is aways the best. There’s nothing like seeing the actual texture of a work you admire.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
Without a doubt, I most closely identify with the Abstract Expressionists. I mentioned Joan Mitchell, but I dig Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler. Outside of that movement – and I may not like everything he did but – I respect and understand what Picasso must have gone through in needing to do so much, to constantly explore and try new ways of working. Richard Diebenkorn is so good. Cy Twombly makes me stop in my tracks with awe.
What or who inspires your art?
Those above, and also Egon Shiele, the St Ives lot, Francis Bacon. The humour and illustrations of Edward Gorey and Shel Silverstein are often in my mind as well.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
I have two-ish. I live in a house with several bedrooms, so I’ve got what I call my dry studio – where I illustrate at a stand up drawing desk or work with my iMac, scanner, printer – and I have my wet studio next door to it. That room is full of easels, plastic on the floor, paint up the walls and ceiling. I’m kind of messy with my paints (especially if I have music playing and perhaps a glass of wine in me) and so the spaces have to be separate. My drying racks are in the dry studio but there are drying paintings everywhere. Finished works (after varnishing) are stored offsite at my best friend’s house in custom built racks. He’s also my business manager, so he likes making sure I don’t accidentally splatter paint on my art.
Do you have any studio rituals?
There are things I do which make me comfortable, sure. I like incense, or perhaps a scented candle burning. Music is hugely important and so an iPod dock or the iMac is massively important. I wish I had just a bit more space for a “thinking” chair to study my work in the wet studio, but for now I’ve got my “thinking” compact stair stepper. It’s healthier this way, I suppose.
What are you working on currently?
Everything! I’m a production machine. I have three illustration gigs I’m drawing (a children’s book and two posters), and always multiple paintings. I mostly work on abstracts, but there is a portrait series in progress based on vintage pornography. I’ve got four of nine done on that.
Where can we buy your art?
I sell through my own website jendixon.com, etsy.com/shop/jendixonarts, or through artfinder.com/jen-dixon, and a few odd printed bits can be found by me on RedBubble and Zazzle. Mostly I sell directly to people I meet or through my own site though.
What are your ambitions?
Representation is always on my mind as I’ve got work coming out of my ears and really need a gallery working with me. At the same time, I’m reluctant to give up the commissions and can’t bear the idea of losing up to fifty percent on one of my works. Art is a bit of a luxury item to buy, but I also have bills to pay. I would like to be in a position where the work I do to promote myself is still where the majority of my sales occur. It’s not easy being both a production and promotion machine. I’d like to find that balance.