Interview: Jen White

Today we’re joined by Jen White. Jen is a phenomenal equine artist. She has a real passion for drawing horses and her work is absolutely stunning. Jen works with a variety of media, mostly traditional. She shows an amazing attention to detail and color, which results in the beautiful images you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Anatomy

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

For the past few years I’ve been marketing myself as an equine artist.  I play with other subjects occasionally but horses are my favourite.  When I started really limiting my subjects to equines, I began to have a lot of fun experimenting with how I wanted to portray them, the style I was going for in my pieces.  Right now I’m working primarily with watercolour as a base, but I also use ink, charcoal, pastel, and gold leaf.  Just about all of my current pieces are a healthy combination of two or more of these mediums.

In terms of what I’m actually doing with the work, it’s been a bit of a gradual journey down to road towards  essentialism, bringing the subject down to its very base elements. Currently I’m playing with muted colours, limited palettes, and seeing just how big I can go using watercolour as the base medium.

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November Wind

What inspires you?

I love the play of sunlight, I think that’s what draws me to a subject initially.  After that I’m looking for action or the emotion but it’s always the play of light and then colour that I see first.

I’m very inspired by other artists as well, I’m always at my most productive after going to a museum or a viewing an interesting gallery of work.  Something about what this person did with this colour or what that one did with the light or line work gets me revved up.  I’ll typically come back home and spend several hours in my studio working on new pieces and fleshing out ideas.

Right now I’ve been quietly working on a future series of anatomical work, attempting to portray equine biomechanics in a 2D format has been an interest of mine for a while.  I’m collaborating with some experts in the field over the next few months to hopefully bring the series together.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to draw and paint, I was that kid that carried around a sketchbook everywhere and spent hours and hours filling it with sketches of people and animals that I clipped out of magazines. I’d always been told that watercolour was difficult and temperamental, and I honestly didn’t like the look of a lot of what I’d seen of the medium, which put me off it for a long, long time.

At first I thought I’d like to be a hyperrealist acrylic or oil painter, so that’s the direction I went with a lot of work in my late teens and early 20s.  You can still see the reflection of that in my current work, I think, but it’s no longer the focus.  Once I realized that watercolour could be harnessed and directed I haven’t looked back.

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Sketches

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

The subject, horses, is the most obvious, I suppose. Aside from that, I tend to want to leave bits and pieces of the paper untouched or partly finished. I like mixing paint directly on the surface of the work and letting the unpredictability of the medium create some of the drama, or allowing the paint to run.   I think that the contrast between unfinished and hyper detailed bits is exciting.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For visual artists?  Quantity over quality.  Your skills won’t improve until you’ve put in hours of practice, and until you really have a solid grasp on your medium(s).  It’s easy to get frustrated when a piece doesn’t turn out the way you’ve expected, and the most common mistake I’ve seen in artists just starting out is to spend way too many hours on an ambitiously detailed piece before they’ve developed the solid skill base to pull it off, and then they get discouraged with the results and quit, or only do one once in a while.

So my advice is to fill sketchbooks with as many quick little life drawings or still lifes as possible.  Get good at drawing shapes, relationships, figuring out how to portray light.  It’s time well spent.  Play with your medium of choice, too.  Don’t be so in love with a piece that you’re afraid to experiment with it.

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Spring Rain

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demiromantic Asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

The subject doesn’t come up very often, quite frankly.  Not in the spheres I travel in, in any case.  The most common form of it I come across is just general heteronormativity, which I generally address by casually mentioning the struggles of people right across the LGBT+ spectrum, including asexuality.  My goal is to maybe make people stop and think, take a moment to question their views without trying to ram it down their throat.  I’ve found that in conversation buffering asexuality with other sexualities on the LGBT+ spectrum will sometimes open people up to the concept.

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Thor

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

It’s existence.  Erasure is the biggest problem we face right now.  There’s a case for societal heteronormativity and the hypersexualization of modern media, but I would say that the major issue for asexuality in particular at the moment is visibility.  In my experience, intolerance often stems from a lack of knowledge or understanding.

My own awareness of asexuality didn’t come until nearly a decade after all my peers were sexually active and getting married and starting families and all the rest.  And at first it was like, well I’m just a late bloomer.  Then it was that I hadn’t found the right person, that I was too focused on my career, that dating is exhausting.  But secretly I was so disappointed in myself.  I couldn’t understand why I felt the need to avoid or deliberately sabotage myself in social encounters that would lead to meeting romantic or sexual partners, and spent most of my 20s thinking I was somehow broken.

If I had known, if I had somehow been taught that there was a label for what I was, it would have been a great comfort and saved me years of confusion and many awkward, gut-clenching situations. Knowing that you aren’t broken, that there are others like you, and that you are valid… it gave me a sense of self-confidence that I didn’t realize I was missing.

If we could have some form of representation, some canonical character or real life person talking about their experiences in some form of media… that would go a long way towards helping our cause, I think.

wip

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Take your time and do your research.  It’s never too late to figure out how you identify, if labels are important to you.  And switching later on is ok, too.  I spent a few years identifying as an aromantic, and as I get older my complete aversion to having a romantic partner is mellowing out a little bit.  Nothing is set in stone.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find/chat to me at equineart.tumblr.com, or check out my website jenwhite-equineart.com

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Thank you, Jen, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Alison Kilvington

Today we’re joined by Alison Kilvington. Alison is a wonderful visual artist who specializes mostly in digital art. However, she does also use traditional media. She is mainly an equine artist, but enjoys drawing many other subjects whenever she gets a chance. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I’m namely an equine artist. I do like to draw other creatures every opportunity I get, but I always seem to default to horses. In terms of medium, I mainly use digital art because it’s convenient and I can take my laptop and tablet with me virtually anywhere. But this also certainly does not mean that I can’t do traditional! I particularly love to use watercolors, first time I used them, something just naturally clicked. I also use colored pencils as well as graphite.

What inspires you?

Generally music, like for most people. But in other cases its movies, watching another artist draw, or just strong feelings. No one thing truly inspires me, but as long as something pops in my head, it’s going to come out sooner or later.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I never really “got interested”, art has always been a fundamental part of my family. My mom used to paint, my aunt likes to sew, my grandma made funny poems, and my great-grandfather built buildings, and during the Great Depression, he sometimes exchanged his work for some old records in return.

I have known for pretty much ever since I first scribbled on a wall that I wanted to be an artist. It was something that was always so vital to who I was as a person, that even when I was considering other careers, I knew I would still be an artist regardless. Unfortunately, I don’t consider myself “creative” enough to be a freelance artist, so I’m currently going to college with hopes that I’ll make myself into an animator someday.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Hm, not that I can think of! However looking at my art, I notice that they all have similar trends, in that I prefer to use darker colors, and have been drawing a lot of trees and mountains in my backgrounds lately. And even though I only rarely draw them, red roses have a lot of symbolic meaning to me. I don’t really want to say exactly what, but they mean a lot to me and I am obsessed with them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just to never quit. You’re always going to look at the thing you just made and say “Well, this is utter crap.” No matter the skill level that you are at. It’s something every artist faces. You’re also not going to like your own art. My friend once told me that my art was better than hers, which I still think is total crap, she’s better than me. This is something that’s always going to happen, and I’ve learned to just deal with it. I’m not as bad at art as I was a year ago, that’s something that always makes me feel better. It also helps to envision how much better you’ll be in 5 years from now. I know that if me from 6 years ago looked at my art now, I’d feel totally in awe.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ummmmmm… A sex-repulsed asexual, I think. I know for sure that I am ace, no doubt about that, not sure if I’m exactly “sex-repulsed” though. As for the romantic spectrum, I’m a hetero-demiromantic, though this is iffy because I’m attracted towards hatred as opposed to close friendship or something of the likes. I say demi though, because it’s only described as a “strong emotional bond”.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Thankfully, no! Not only are people in the horse art community super inclusive, but the people I know in real life also haven’t treated me any differently. Given, I’m not open about it because it’s nobody’s business, but the people I have told were supportive. There was this one guy who kept claiming that he hated me and wanted me dead, but when it came to my sexuality, he was very supportive of it. And it also turns out that my sister is pansexual.

However, I do know of people who are homophobic, such as my brother and step-brother. When my brother tells my step-brother that his demeaning language towards females isn’t cool, he gets teased about being gay. But on the flip side, when I was watching Ellen one day, my brother came in and said “She’s a lesbian.” For no real reason, and explained it by saying that he was only stating a fact.

I’ve been very fortunate.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we can create clones of ourselves or something. However, my college has a very active LGBTQ+ program (my roommate’s mom is actually the head of the LGBTQ+ services here), and inclusiveness is in abundance! It also really helps that the building most people go through is where the services are located, so whenever people walk through, there’s ALWAYS going to be something regarding the LGBTQ+ community somewhere.

And to emphasize how inclusive my college is, this week just so happens to be the college’s pride week. I go to NKU, if anyone’s wondering. I’m very lucky that I go to a place that’s so accepting of everyone, I know it’s not the case for some places.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing wrong with any of us. It’s everyone else who can’t understand. Because we do not fall victim to the earthly notion of wanting to bang someone we see, we are obviously gods.

But in all seriousness, there really is nothing wrong with you, and you can even use your orientation to embrace yourself. You are a perfect and beautiful human being, and even though words can hurt, you are stronger than them. Words can be like chains that have been wrapped around your ankles, but chains will not cause you to lose yourself. Sometimes you feel like you died inside because you can’t escape the chains, but just remember that in due time, they will become old and brittle and will break apart when you make an attempt to leave again.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I just wanna say real quick that I think it’s interesting that there are so many asexual artists out there. In one of my high school art classes, it turns out that there was a guy who was also asexual, which is really intriguing! I wonder why that is?

Anyway, I flip flop between websites I post my art on, however for the past six years I haven’t failed to post on DeviantArt. I do have Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and FurAffinity accounts for my art, however I almost never use them.

DeviantArt: http://wittch.deviantart.com/

Tumblr: http://deadliestart.tumblr.com/

FurAffinity: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/nighttmares/

Thank you, Alison, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.