Happy Feature Friday!
We are so excited about today’s feature with Jennifer Stables of Jenny Dale Designs. The characters she creates in her pieces are so adorable and each one has so much life and personality! We love that she takes the creativity to the next level by accompanying each piece with a poem that tells more about the character and makes for a unique addition to each purchase. Although her art is amazing for a child’s room we still think a lot of these would be great on any wall! They would totally add a quirky touch to your desk space or reading nook. You can tell how much of herself Jennifer puts into these pieces and the happiness that her characters bring to so many people. Keep reading to hear about how she got her start and inspiration.
: I am an artist, an educator, and a mother to two beautiful boys. I have a cat named Stretchy-Cat, I collect rocks, and I love Back to the Future. I grew up in a small prairie town called Bow Island, which has a population of about 1500 people. Currently I live in the town of Okotoks, Alberta, Canada (just south of Calgary, Alberta, Canada). I create artwork primarily for children’s rooms and nurseries and I write poetry to accompany each one. Art has always been a part of my life and I have been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001 and my Bachelor of Education in 2005 from the University of Calgary. My artwork is sold worldwide through my business, Jenny Dale Designs, and through Oopsy Daisy Fine Art for Kids.
: Creating illustrations for children’s rooms and nurseries allows me to be creative and express love in all of my work. I feel a sense of freedom in making this kind of art. I can allow my mind to dream up the most fantastical characters and I bring them alive through the poetry I write to accompany them. I like to tell people that I play with paint to create the images, and then I play with words to create the poems. My art is about love and joy, and I couldn’t think of a better audience to share that with than children.
: All of my artwork is very special to me. I want people to know that each illustration is created with love, care, and joy. The poetry I write to accompany each piece helps bring the character to life. I am not only telling the story of the character, I am sharing a piece of myself through the poetry. Some poems are an outpouring of love and emotion, while others are simply playful rhymes. Either way, my hope is that they become a way for children and their parents to engage with the artwork, and that they offer a window into who I am.
: Childhood inspires me! Children know how to marvel at the world. They know how to be present in each moment– to experience the joy and wonder of life. I draw inspiration for my illustrations from my own childhood memories, my experiences working with children as a kindergarten and art teacher, and my experiences as a mother. Vintage patterns, toys and objects also inspire me. There is a beauty to them that sparks my imagination. I also find inspiration in nature and I often feature animals, insects, and birds in my illustrations.
As for my poems, inspiration comes my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother used to write poetry for us when we were growing up. Each time she’d visit she’d open up a journal that we kept in our bookshelf and she’d add a new poem to the book. My mother inspired me, too, by reciting poetry to my sisters and me every night before bed. I grew to appreciate the melody and rhythm in poems, as well as the story and emotion that could be communicated in such a beautiful, compact form.
: I use art to help children become better observers, to ask questions, and create theories about what they encounter. Teaching through art allows me to share my gifts with my students and it helps them discover their own gifts. I don’t see art just as an isolated subject matter. I believe that art can help children engage in every part of the curriculum– be it math, science, or language arts. My work as an educator is greatly influenced by the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and their approach to teaching and learning. They believe children are infinitely capable. They also believe that children express themselves in “a hundred languages”. They don’t just read, write, and speak… they dance, they sing, they play, and they paint! The role of teachers is to give them the opportunity to express themselves through song, through dance, through play, and through art. Art can become a language for children if we provide them with thoughtful guidance, and the opportunity to explore a variety of mediums and subject matter.
: I can see the Rocky Mountains, foothills, and prairies from my house in Okotoks. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is at my doorstep. Deer, rabbits, and birds visit my backyard (a hummingbird even flew into my kitchen yesterday!) When I drive into the mountains I see bears, moose, and mountain goats. I watch the prairie sky glow with such magnificent colours that I stand speechless in awe of its beauty. I fall asleep to the sound of coyotes and crickets in the fields. There is inspiration all around me! Animals, insects, and birds become my subject matter. Nature’s colour palette fills my canvases, and prairie fields and grain elevators find their way into landscape paintings.
: I have many…
Fourteen years ago, when I was teaching at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal, there was a little girl who was extremely anxious and shy. Each day she would arrive in tears with her head down, frightened to speak to anybody. I truly empathized with her. I, too, was extremely shy as a child and I still feel some of that anxiety today. When she arrived in class I would sit next to her and just draw. I would notice what she was drawing and I would draw the same thing on my page. She would notice my drawing and smile. By the end of the class we would be talking together. She would be 19 years old now. I think of her often.
More recently I was working with middle school students (ages 10-14) and I had an 11 year old boy (one of the “cool” kids) come up to me at the end of the last class and said, “Mrs. Stables…I just wanted to say thank you. I mean it. This experience has been awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever become an artist but it doesn’t matter. Thank you for this experience.” My heart melted!
: When I paint I am able to lose myself in the moment. I lose all track of time and I feel immersed in it. There is something satisfying and magical when you are able to sit back and look at a completed piece and think, ‘yesterday this didn’t exist…now it does!’ Art has always been a way for me to express myself and to restore my soul.
: Be brave and never be afraid of making a mistake. You need to take risks in order to grow as an artist. That might mean that a painting you’ve worked on for 20 hours ends up in the garbage. It’s ok! The art you create doesn’t exist on a canvas or a piece of paper– it exists within you. It’s a never-ending journey! Have courage. Play. Love. Share.
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