I feel most alive and most connected to the world when I am creating. In college, I fell in love with painting. I received a very traditional art education as an undergrad, learning the foundations of painting, drawing, and sculpture. Our studio time was spent exploring still life setups and the human figure. In graduate school, I branched out and explored other ways to use materials while trying to find my own vision. Through my exploration, I discovered that my work always come back to portraiture.
Anona 2010, oil on canvas
There is something about painting a portrait that feels like a special connection that I am making with my subject. I want to invest the time to really see a person in a way that we don’t get to do on a day to day basis. I use portraiture to explore identity and personality, and how much we can really know each other. I feel a rush of adrenaline when a painting starts to form on the canvas, representing my personal relationship with and interpretation of the subject.
Anona 2011, oil on canvas
When my niece, Anona, was about 10 months old, I painted her portrait. At the time, I wasn’t thinking past that initial portrait. I just wanted to capture her as I knew her that day. Anona is now 7 years old, and I have painted her portrait every year since she was born. That first portrait started an ongoing project that, for me, is about more than painting.
Anona 2012, oil on canvas and Anona with her early portraits.
Anona and I live on opposite sides of the country, so I don’t see her very often. The distance and time between visits make it seem like she is growing up so very fast. It is amazing to see how much she changes and exciting to watch her grow into her own unique individual. Each year, I try to capture her in a way that feels true to my interpretation of her, and shows her personality. In a sense, the portraits become a representation not only of Anona, but of my relationship with her.
Anona 2013, oil on canvas
Anono 2014, oil on canvas
A theme that runs through my work is one of identity and what shapes our sense of who we are and how we present ourselves in this world. By painting Anona each year, I am watching her grow up and become who she is, while creating a lasting document of milestones throughout her life. All of the portraits of Anona live with her on the west coast. While compiling these pictures of the paintings today, I realized that this is the first time that I’ve looked at them all together. I love seeing them as a group and noticing how she changes from year to year. I’m pretty sure she enjoys seeing herself on canvas, as well. I am determined to add to this group every year, for as long as she will let me!
Anono 2015, oil on canvas
Anono with her 2016 portrait and Anono 2016, oil on canvas
Kelly Anona Kerrigan is an artist living and working in Boston’s Fort Point Artists’ Community. She received a BFA in painting from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. In addition to painting, she also enjoys designing and making clothing and costumes. Some of her favorite things in life are running, nail polish, and the Red Sox. See more of her work at www.kellyanonakerrigan.com
As the school closings started to come in this afternoon because of the impending blizzard, my 12 year old daughter texted me at work to say there would be no school tomorrow so could I please pick up a few things up from the store. For those of you that know her, you won’t be surprised by her forward thinking. For those of you who do not, she is fastidious, loves to plan, likes things to be orderly, and is often a worrier.
Her list made me smile in its simplicity and intent: hot chocolate, marshmallows and waffles. I knew at that moment she was picturing our snow day, with the white snow billowing outside in the frosty wind and with us warm inside, sipping cocoa and munching on waffles. Her perfect snow day.
With this in mind, I thought it might be fun to post a few suggestions on things you can do on a snow day.
Build a snow man, of course
Bake cupcakes, muffins or cookies and enjoy with a cup of hot cocoa
Pull out your art supplies, pens, pencils, paper, scissors and glue. See what happens.
Play a board game like monopoly or maybe a game of charades
Shovel snow – don’t forget to help your neighbors who cannot shovel
How do you like to spend your snow days? Leave a comment below and please share.
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here.
I decided early on that becoming a full time artist was my goal in life. I was 19 and a painting student at Bennington College, where the life of an artist was presented to me as almost a beautiful dream: a messy loft in New York City, ramen noodles for dinner, and the sudden discovery by a Chelsea gallery that would solidify my place in the art world… and would allow me to spend my life painting and traveling and in general just be cool.
Brown, Jenny. Gray Pearl Cephalopod. 2016. Pen, Ink and Collage on Paper.
I got an internship at Art in General gallery in 1994 (I was 20 years old), and I got my chance to live that fantasy. I slept on a couch in an apartment in Soho with people I barely knew, existed on pita bread and coffee for sustenance, and did embarrassing things like load all of the slides in the carousel backwards for a presentation at the gallery without realizing it. I was hungry and tired.
And I loved every minute of it.
After graduating from college the harsh truth set in: I wasn’t from a wealthy family or have a trust fund to fall back on, so I need to make money- not only to live, but to pay back the $30,000 I had to borrow to go to art school. I worked as a barista, a teacher, a waitress, a telemarketer, a medical secretary, and pretty much everything in between. I was broke but happy, and carved out time to make art between jobs in my bedroom. But I was tired- not only physically, but tired of people asking me when I would get a real job, tired of nervous calls from my family asking me what the heck I was doing, tired everyone asking me when I would get married and have children. Around that time I had the very good fortune to get to live and travel in Europe for two years. One night I was in Paris at a party and I told another guest, who was French, that I was an artist. Their face immediately lit up, and they proceeded to ask me all about my work and life like it was a CAREER. It had never happened to me before.
And it was all the motivation I needed to keep going.
Brown, Jenny. Effervescent Flowering Scallop. 2017. Pen, Ink and Collage on Paper.
My work progressed. I had always loved working with collage material and it finally started to make sense in my work. I applied to grad school year after year and was rejected. When I finally got into the School of Visual Arts in New York, I thought it was all coming together (btw it took me NINE years to get into grad school). I figured I’d get an MFA which would lead to a great teaching job, which would lead to financial security… which would lead to me getting to just make art.
But it didn’t work that way at all.
I moved to NYC and immediately went into a downward spiral. The relationship I was in at the time came to a dramatic end. I found myself in New York with nowhere to live and and it was too late in the school year to quit. I had to borrow $50,000 to live and pay for school, work 4 part time jobs, and was almost laughed out of my classes for showing an interest in “paper ephemera.” I got sadder and more tired. I abused alcohol to almost a life threatening degree (which was thankfully a short lived phase). I felt I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I was now EIGHTY thousand dollars in debt with no plum spot in a gallery, or really much to show from my time at school but a piece of paper.
But something kept me going.
I wanted to survive and make art.
I moved back to Boston to be by friends and figure out my next move. By then I had discovered that no one really cared that I had an MFA or had lived in New York. Unable to find any decent paying job in the art field, I took an office job that had nothing to do with art. Art was relegated to nights and weekends. Other artists I knew told me I was a sell out for taking a job in the corporate world. People in the corporate world didn’t take me seriously because they assumed I was a flake and not committed to my day job. I felt like I couldn’t win. But I kept showing up. Slowly but surely, I had a little money in my pocket and the confidence to keep working on my collages. And slowly they got better. Life was quiet and studious.
A few years later I met my husband and moved to Providence, RI with him. Not only did my husband truly believe in my work, but in Providence I found artists and friends and galleries did too. I got out of my comfort zone and started sharing my work on social media, and found another incredible community of artists and colleagues online, many whom I now call real life friends. I made the wholehearted decision to make my flowered-sea-creature-alien collages and be just happy with having the chance to make them.
Brown, Jenny. Wandering Coral. 2017. Pen, Ink and Collage on Paper.
Right now, I am proud to say I work with 5 different art vendors and galleries. Some months, I make great money on my art and make almost as much as I do at my day job. Sometimes I go for months without even selling a print. And people still feel really inclined to share their feelings about my lifestyle, whether it be too corporate or too artsy in their view.
I think the real point of this story is to tell people that being an artist is really about committing to a whole life of art: the uncertainties, the doubt, the financial stress, the sudden successes. Someone recently said to me, “isn’t it WEIRD to really want to be an artist but spend all day in an office?” Another said, “don’t you wish you had never gone to school and didn’t have any loans so you could do whatever you want?” I honestly believe that all of these experiences, even the painful ones have taught me that I am TRULY committed to being an artist. Because some of the experiences really are painful. And yet I keep going towards my goal.
I am proud to live a life of non-conformity, complete with all the criticisms that come with it. I see people everyday who are unhappy and anxious and feel stuck and sometimes even tell me they wish they had been brave enough to pursue what they love, rather than be behind a desk all day. I hope they find the courage to take a step in that direction of what they love, even if it’s a little one.
I can’t promise them it will be easy, but I can 100% promise them it is worth it.
Jenny Brown is visual artist living and working in Providence, Rhode Island, whose primary mediums are drawing, collage, and works on paper. Her work brings to life a mythical world of sea creatures and celestial beings, realized through her love of paper ephemera.
Her recent collage works focus on a dream of representing harmony amongst different elements of the natural world (flora, fauna, the moon, the sea). An abundance of flowers in the work represent the hearts and souls of these fantastic creatures. Branches and tentacles share their yearning to be connected to the most basic elements of life which created them…water, mineral, and the stars.
Jenny studied art at Bennington College and received her MFA from School of Visual Arts in New York. She is a featured artist in Issue 3 of Create Magazine, as well as part of the recently released “Craft Companion,” published by Thames & Hudson. She has also been featured at recent pop-up shops at West Elm & Anthropologie in Providence, RI, as well as Kate Spade in Pasadena, CA. Her work is currently available at Collier West in Brooklyn, NY and Good Eye Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.
‘Remember my friend, one kind word can warm three winter months … ‘ I am not entirely certain who to assign credit for this (C. Bronte, R. Hunter, S. Freud and even B. Dylan comes to mind) … sage and prudent advice, this however stands.
I fondly recall my grandmother once describing winter as the most misunderstood season … I never really pondered the ‘W’s’ (why, what, where, when) of this statement until now – my own interpretations, selected by my love, illustrate the profound ‘winter’ beauty of North Idaho’s – Selkirk Range.
A proper winter is as brilliant as it is austere – in the higher latitudes, where the days are severely shortened, one covets an occasion revealing beaming rays of sunshine, serving to shatter the loneliness of the ‘sheltering’ long winter nights.
A proper winter is silent … listen carefully – unadorned silence can be beautiful. Savor the gift of long stretches of solemn quiet as the accompanying winds pressure recognition of proven adequacy (or, inadequacy for that matter) … forcing reflection and gently encouraging correction.
A proper winter transforms the heinous trepidations of collective materialism – rough textures become smooth, abrasive debris reappear as ‘artful’ snow fashioned ‘pretty’, while the unfinished tasks of Fall become forgotten and return a sweet clarity to the landscape.
A proper winter makes the green lichens and Alpine Firs … opulent and greener.
A proper winter forgives the forthcoming and seemingly endless sprinkling rains – making the prosperities of the Spring rebirth even more scented and respectably pleasant.
A proper winter has me yearning and desirous for the past, present and future warmth of my true love – to you Q!
Krister Allen lives (for now) in Sandpoint, Idaho. He is an architect, avid sailor and skier…oh and happens to be my true love.
Sometimes something small grabs your attention during your morning routine that makes you pause. While sipping my coffee and perusing theSkimm in my inbox, the quote of the day caught my attention:
“The fishes loved receiving this anonymous postcard from a fan!” – A California aquarium on some fan mail it received – and apparently read aloud to its exotic fish. The fish flipped.
I clicked the link for further details on what this could mean. So happy I did. A photo is below. Someone took time to write out a postcard for the fish and the aquarium staff read it to them. In case you cannot read it below it says:
Dear fish, You are the best fish ever! Some fish are thought to be scary But you are great!
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