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Jenn Weinshenker ~ The Work

The Art

The, "Faces of a Woman," series has turned out to be a lifelong source of inspiration. These canvases portray what it means to be a woman.

"The Accident," series began that first year after the accident. In the beginning I could paint for maybe ten minutes a day. These paintings were emotionally and physically, extremely painful to create. Each one took about a year to paint and evolved on the canvas.

"The Journey," is a series of nine canvases that took seven years to complete. Each painting has a meaning all its own. These paintings were inspired by nine Jewish Holidays and the Holocaust survivors and WWII vets that I interviewed before the accident, for a book I was writing. Each painting wound up encompassing my own journey of self-discovery as I learned how to live again, after the accident.

"Scapes," are landscapes of places that I have loved. A few were done at certain events. The Fair was painted at the Lilith Fair in Michigan. Rainbow Farm and Woods, were painted at the Rainbow Farm Campgrounds in Cassopolis, Michigan. Elation and The French Countryside were paintings I did from color pencil drawings I worked on while I was in London and France.

"Life Stories," are mostly family portraits. Each one is inspired by someone I love and all of the things they love. The first one I painted many years ago.  It is a scene on a Lake Michigan beach on the north shore with my children and our dog. The others were done after the accident. They began with Blue Heron which was a birthday present for my son Matt when he turned 21. I thought of all of the things Matt loved and they somehow made there way onto the canvas. He loved the blue heron that used to land on the weed island in front of our old house. He loved to catch froggers and snakes and turtles and he loved the lake. So all of those things are in the painting. The blue heron itself is actually a symbolic side profile of Matt sitting by the water's edge, leaning forward with his head resting on his hand.

The next one I painted when my son Steve had turned 21.  It was his birthday present. I call this one Farm Eagle. Steve loved playing the guitar outside at sunset. And I loved listening to him play. One day, at sunset, while he was playing; a pair of golden eagles flew overhead. I didn't want to move because I didn't want them to go away. One of them stayed high but the other circled lower and lower until it was maybe 50 feet overhead. I don't know if it was Steve's playing the guitar or the glint of light that shimmered from the strings, I'm guessing it was both, that drew the eagle to him. But it was such a profound moment that it turned out to be a major source of inspiration for the piece.

Nesting was painted for Karen. She had fallen in love and Frank. He and his daughter Lizbeth had become a wonderful part of her life. Many years earlier she had put me in touch with her mom who had also survived a brain injury. Melinda was hugely responsible for encouraging me to read and to keep trying everyday, even if it was only a sentence, to keep working at it. If it wasn't for both of them in my life I don't know if I would have even thought that I would be able to read or write again. I was so happy for her when she found such a wonderful partner that all of those things came out on the canvas. Frank is the peacock in the tree, watching over his girls. Karen and Lizbeth are embracing each other. And our family and our love is represented by the lotus flowers in the tree.

Rebekah's 21st birthday painting, City Hawk, was inspired by her love of Chicago. We were often awestruck at the beauty of the sun setting over Chicago and the lake when we were going home from Columbia College. Every now and then I would see a red-tailed hawk in the city. The strength and freedom of the hawk became another source of inspiration for the way the city spread out along Lake Michigan. The hawk is resting at the feet of the city, on the other side of the park, at the lake's edge. It has fish, placed like legs sitting in the lotus position, in the water. This came about because Rebekah felt so peaceful whenever she went to the lake. And the third eye in between the eyes of the hawk is the sun giving off this beautiful light while at the same time it is setting, from our view. It is like the Tao. It represents the all of everything that never leaves, even when we can't see it or touch it or hold onto it.

I'm still enjoying the creative process of my work.   Below is, "Unchartered Waters."  This was the only oil painting I created in 2010.  The past couple of years I've painted several.  They have been added to the galleries.  

The older I get the more freedom and pleasure I derive from the, "not knowing" aspect of allowing an image to become while I am "being."  I don't need to understand it. I'm just digging going with the flow.

The Writing

When I'm working on a creative non-fiction story or an essay or a poem, I begin with a steady flow of whatever I'm feeling. I examine the content and focus in on one image, one memory or one thought at a time; drawing as much from it as I can. Then I chisel it down until hopefully, the reader is transported elsewhere. With my memory problems I often use other resources to further describe what I am feeling about a time in my life or an issue. If it is a memory from my life I ask friends or family or even track down where I was through paperwork and address books, in order to maintain accuracy and create some form of context to the original source of inspiration. Some times these pieces seem to flow from my fingertips to the page effortlessly, and other times years of revision and research and life experience are required before the composition feels right.

Expressing myself creatively through painting and writing are as natural to me as breathing. Hopefully, this will continue until the day I give and take my last.