Schoolhouse Art Studio: Jenny Vorwaller

Seattle native Jenny Vorwaller is our next featured artist in our Art Studio spotlight series. The collection of paintings she created for us explore the significance and beauty of flowers as they relate to the human experience. Jenny shares with us a bit about her design influences, how she maintains a work/life balance, and her decor style mantra. 

How would you describe your work and yourself as an artist?

"Painting has been my dream since as long as I can remember. Growing up in Seattle, becoming a lover of nature just felt inevitable. I’ve lived in many places, but the Emerald city’s harmonious relationship to the outdoors is why I call it home. It’s so lush that regardless of the season, I get to see my favorite color (green) showing off in all its glory. It’s a place that has fostered a lot of individuality in terms of how to shape my career. I learned to paint by observation, a lot of practice, and by trusting myself. I’m still learning all the time."

What does your creative process look like from start to finish?

"The start of a painting is similar to that moment when I hear an amazing song and I just can’t help but get up and dance. There are no wrong moves at first. I never use any preliminary sketches, but there is always a new idea of what I want to express. I love pushing the boundaries of what I know about color. As a painting develops, I like to pinpoint an element to focus on, and let the rest fall away through abstraction. I absolutely love the tactile nature of a painting, and you can see that obsession come through in all the texture I build up in the surface of my work. It takes a lot of patience, which is very rewarding."

"I find that listening to music is absolutely essential in order for me to lose my tendency to overthink my process, so I can keep the sense of freedom I want to express. I never want to make the same thing twice, which helps when I begin and also "let go" of a painting and decide that it is finished."

What do you hope to communicate, or have people experience, with your art and this series in particular?

"This series is a celebration of flowers: their vitality, delicacy, and the happiness we find in them. Flowers can be a beautiful reminder to savor the moment, and they carry such charm. I hope my fascination with them comes through in my paintings."

Are there any rituals or routines you follow while creating?

"I'm in the studio Monday through Friday. Keeping disciplined hours means paintings get made! Having my kids actually brought me more focus than any class or extra amount of time could give me. I procrastinate less, and instead of leisurely sitting with a cup of coffee and slowly deliberating about what my next move is (like I used to), I just make it instead. That doesn’t mean I’m rushed, but I find that when I’m in my studio, I know what I want to do next because I’ve been eagerly anticipating it. Keeping that balance has been a real gift. I like to keep many paintings going at the same time, rotating my attention on them keeps everything fresh. There’s always something productive to do in my studio as well. Little tasks like priming new panels, sweeping piles of scraped paint, meeting a new collector, researching a new subject, getting feedback from other artists, all of it is meaningful to me." 

Where do you go when you’re craving inspiration? 

"Lack of inspiration for me means feeling stuck, so I literally want to move my body to get going again. Even something simple like a bike ride, just taking a walk or playing in my garden is invigorating. I like exploring new-to-me music. But I get most of my revelations in books, and I love to have many things to read at a time. It’s also vital to inject spontaneity in my life, in and out of the studio. Sometimes it can take more effort, especially when I’m in a rut, but purposefully creating an unexpected moment, experience, memory - that serves me well. Those I admire seem to keep a relentless curiosity about the world. That’s what keeps me going too. And I’m a total Pinterest addict! Cannot stop pinning!"

Who are your artistic or design influences/heroes?

"I think Belgian designer Dries Van Noten is a total genius. The way he approaches everything is remarkable to me. If I could choose one person to dress me for the rest of my life… he’s the one. I’ll also never forget the first time I came across Ghanaian Sculptor El Anatsui’s work. His grand pieces are made from recycled liquor bottle caps, milk cans, aluminum printing plates, and reclaimed wood. He really demonstrates the creativity of resourcefulness in such a powerful way. His installation during the Venice Biennale in 2007 left a really stunning impression on me when a Palazzo was completely transformed with his work draped on the facade of it."

What role does art and design play in your own home? Tell us about your decor style.

"I want there to be a little bit of enchantment in my home, a place for dreaming and relaxing. A lot of the art that I have collected over the years has serendipitously ended up having a landscape theme. I have a lot of plants! And there is a touch of blue everywhere.  I can’t live with clutter around me. I always make it a point to find some treasures to bring home with me whenever I travel because special, considered items incorporated into regular days make them not so regular. I'll intentionally put different textures next to each other, like placing a blue velvet pillow on my cotton striped sofa, clear lucite chairs under a rustic wood table. I approach my home like I do a favorite outfit, I don’t like anything to feel too precious that it can’t be really worn in. I want comfort and ease, and to find myself really reflected in it. My only criteria is: if I love it, it works. And I like not being too serious by arranging things in an whimsical way so the mood at home is playful and lighthearted. It’s exciting to keep changing things up. This past winter, I went from dramatic black walls in the main living area a sophisticated white, and it is like a breath of fresh air has moved through the house ever since." 


| Shop Jenny's original work in Schoolhouse Art Studio