Studio Visit: Jenny Barrett

Studio Visit: Jenny Barrett

Jenny Barrett, 66, of Champaign is a watercolor painter. The watercolor painter recently chatted with The News-Gazette's Melissa Merli.

Wow, is that Chicago city scene a watercolor painting?

Yes, and I'm so glad you asked because people have a concept of watercolor, that it's very washed out. I like to do vivid colors and representational painting that looks more like a photograph. I'm really happy that this painting was selected for the Parkland Alumni Exhibition (Sept. 26-Nov. 5.)

Did you study with Don Lake at Parkland?

I never took courses with Don Lake. I studied with Jamie Kruidenier before she retired, because I didn't take up watercolor until after I retired in 2010.

Did you make art before that?

Not really. When I was a kid, I did a lot of sketching, just on my own. I liked to draw. When I was 13, the Art Institute had a summer course for children, so my sister and I paid the fee ourselves because our parents thought art was totally frivolous and they were poor.

I enjoyed that, and they thought I had potential and asked if I wanted to take more classes, but I couldn't afford to. I didn't really do any more art until my last semester at UI-Chicago. I had a very good drawing teacher, and she was very encouraging, but life intervened and I went to graduate school for a master's at NIU and then I was working on a Ph.D. in history at the University of Pittsburgh and Jim (her husband, Jim Barrett) got a job at North Carolina State and I started taking computer science courses there. When we moved back to Illinois, I entered the master's program here in computer science and worked at CERL-PLATO. When they closed that down, I went to the psychology department and worked there until I retired.

Show me more of your watercolors. Is that one of a deer in a field?

Yes, this is called "Meadowbrook." If I see something interesting, I take a picture of it and I go home and play with the colors and try to look at it from a different perspective. This was accepted into the Illinois Biennial at the Tarble Arts Center.

It seems like your work is accepted into a lot of shows.

Yes, I've been fortunate. Every show I've entered, I've been accepted. I've been in a couple at Tarble. My painting "Polish Patchwork" was at the Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists' annual members show. It was the first time I submitted something with them, so I was very happy to get best of show. It's the one displayed now at the C4A (Community Center for the Arts, Urbana). This one, "Galway Bay," received the Roc's Blackfront Merit Award at the 2014 Illinois Biennial at Tarble.

This one of the Millenium Park band shell was entered into the Parkland student show, and it received a merit award, and then Parkland bought one that was part of the student show. It shows Krakow through a stained-glass window. They have a gorgeous square, and the building is 1,000 years old.

I try to find complicated scenes, either from a macro or micro view, just to have a different perspective. I like it when people ask, "What is that?" With the Pritzker Pavilion (Millenium Park), some people asked if it was a ship.

Tell me about the Country Bend Painters who have the group exhibition (through Oct. 15) at C4A.

It's a group of us; most of the members had been Don Lake's students. We decided to meet informally once a week at an older member's house just to paint and offer each other moral support.

Topics (1):Art

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