"My work made a drastic leap in change on three occasions. The first was a move to Canberra, Australia to teach for a year, in 1992. I was teaching at an Arts College - Gr. 11 and 12 only, and when I stepped off the plane I panicked! I had never, ever seen those colours before, and of course, didn't know how to mix them, let alone teach others how to do it! Well, I learned very quickly, and colour became an even more important statement in my work." She has incorporated some of those Aussie colours into her Canadian-themed paintings, which adds a fresh new look to local scenes.
The next occasion was that of the Ice Storm of 1998. Jennifer's house was uninhabitable for 17 days, and when she returned after power was restored, all of her plants were, of course, frozen. For someone who revels in colour, this 'Ice world' of devastation was too much for her, and "I purchased EVERY SINGLE TULIP I could find in Brockville to perk up my home. The sun came out and so did my camera! When the 4 rolls of film were returned, a series of paintings was born! But not just any series! I couldn't imagine the strong colours of the tulips being shrunk to a tiny size, so I bought several 40" x 60" canvases (or larger), and literally enlarged them to 20x life size! What a liberating feeling!"
Jennifer worked on her canvasses by hanging them on the wall of her gallery, drawing big, and painting bigger. Colours became more saturated, and backgrounds were used as a complement to the flowers, rather than being "just a negative space to fill in." "When I used a blue-violet background to contrast the scarlet red tulips of my first painting, the colour leapt off the canvas and filled the room, and the background shapes took on a life of their own."
The response to these paintings at my annual Spring Studio Tour in May was overwhelming, and in June I sold the whole series to a doctor from Dayton, Ohio, for his health clinic: "Something lovely for the patients to look at while waiting for their doctors."
Each painting has now become a challenge: "Can I represent what I see with my camera in terms of design, what I see with my heart in terms of colour, and what I see with my head in response to nature?"
"I look for snippets of life which other people usually walk on by, and then enlarge it enough to have them step back and look again, and then walk through..."
With this in mind, the third break-through has recently occurred. She now takes photos with her digital camera, manipulates them on the computer, enlarges them to almost life size, and then paints in acrylics directly on the photograph to emphasize the subject matter.
Jennifer finds that she is not a complete person, these days, without being able to create her paintings. To that end, she has taken early retirement from her teaching career, uprooted herself from tranquil country living in the 1000 Islands area, and moved to Picton in Prince Edward County, closer to Toronto. Immersion in painting full-time, or in the 'art scene' will allow her to develop ideas and paintings that have previously taken a back seat to her teaching. Commissions, too, can be completed in a more timely fashion, so as not to keep her clients waiting.