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Places where you may view my artwork.

If I weren’t an introvert, I might not be a painter.

Yesterday I went to my daughter’s school to help with a teacher appreciation lunch. It’s the end of the year, and all the kids were gathered in the central lawn with a photographer to take the official group picture. It’s a pretty large school, so that’s about 700-800 kids. My daughter is quite popular and lots of her friends stop in at our home after school, so they know me too. So as I’m walking by this enormous group of teens I hear “Jen!”, “Hey Jen” over and over. I just started waving like a celebrity…but inside I’m thinking, “Boy, what a difference 30 years can make to your middle school fame!” I was such a painfully shy child at that age. To make things worse, we moved to a different state between my 7th and 8th grade years and I remember well-meaning friends telling me that this was my chance to “reinvent myself” at a new place. I think someone even gave me a book! Oh, if only I could pass on the wisdom of age to the children I know now and tell them they will find their way. They don’t need to change. It will all be OK. I do tell them, but you know how we humans are. We’ve got to live it for ourselves before we believe.

I spent years trying to overcome my shyness, but even in my most talkative moments, someone will invariably come up to me and tell me how quiet I am. More than once someone (who later became a friend) told me their first impression of me was of someone who was aloof or scary. Guess I’ll never be one of those people who cheerfully tell prospective employers they’re “a people person.”. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my introversion. Without it, I would not be a painter…a job that requires hours alone in my own mind pondering life, connecting to God applying layers upon layers of paint to express myself. I wouldn’t be able to soak in the wisdom of books, listen attentively to a friend in need or find deep joy in pondering patterns in nature. It is who I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Are you a fellow introvert? Take comfort…I found this great Ted talk by Susan Cain (Author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”)

And I do step out of my shell once in a while. If you’re in the San Jose area this weekend, I’ll be exhibiting and selling work at the San Jose Made event in San Pedro Square. Here’s the scoop: www.sanjosemade.com

Bees in the Hive, You Know How I Feel!

The Organization of Bees © Jen Norton

The Organization of Bees

School is out today, which means my house is bursting and buzzing with about 10 extra teens, mostly girls. Energy, laughter, food on the floor and makeup strewn all over the bathroom… How do so many kids, each manageable when isolated, become such a force of chaos en masse?

Compare that with bees…also female…who buzz en masse, seemingly in chaos, but who actually live quite ordered and productive lives. They each know their job. They don’t get distracted like we humans. Like our children, our lives are intertwined with theirs. Their seemingly small movements literally support this planet’s life forms.

Bee photo and sketches

I am currently part of a group show with my Allied Artist West friends up at Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA. Our show features paintings either painted on site, inspired by the center or its philosophies, or other beautiful places in California that are meaningful to the artist. I chose to work from a picture I took of their beekeeper tending the bees on the property. When I work from a photo, I first trace everything, including the border. Then, I assign black or white to each shape I’ve traced to make a pattern of lights and darks that I like. In this case, I decided to make the background dark to play up the “hotness” of the day in the foreground. This becomes my roadmap for my painting. I refer back to it often as I add color and texture and all the other fun stuff! Like bees to a hive, I return to it to stay true to my original intent.

I’m pretty sure Presentation Center is going to purchase the original painting for their property. Prints of this piece can be purchased here.

Celebration of Craftswomen!

$1 off Celebration of Craftswomen

Print this postcard for $1 off!

Join me this Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday, November 11-13 for the Celebration of Craftswomen at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. If you come, be sure to print this postcard for $1 off the entry fee. To get your postcard, go to the Craftswomen site, click “ABOUT THE SHOW” and scroll down to the yellow button that says “PRINT A POSTCARD”. This is a great show by some really talented women artists. I usually end up buying a few treasures and gifts while I’m there! Plus, proceeds benefit the Women’s Building in San Francisco. See you there!

The Santa Cruz Grows Seed Library

Seed Cabinet top (detail) by Jen Norton

Seed Cabinet top (detail)

Seems I’m on a bit of a role with this painted furniture work…and I’m having a great time with it! Take a look at my latest art project, the “Santa Cruz Grows” Seed Library. Commissioned by the Santa Cruz Reskilling Expo, this piece will be permanently housed in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. It features my carved and painted vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as wonderful poetry by Santa Cruz poet Ellen Bass.*

If you are a local gardener in the Santa Cruz, CA area, you can drop off your properly-saved seeds to the library or pick up any free seeds you’d like to try left by other local gardeners. Don’t know how to save seed? Well then, you should definitely attend the Reskilling Expo, where they will teach you how, plus lots of other sustainable practices. Promote local gardening!

The Seed Library will be officially unveiled at the Reskilling Expo on Saturday, Sept 24, 2011.

Seed Library poem by Ellen Bass

Detail of poetry by Ellen Bass

* Poetry by Ellen Bass for the Seed Library:

And under the earth, the god of roots
Goes on painting the lustrous fringe
With a brush so delicate—
Only one sable hair—as though
There were all the time in the world.

 

Santa Cruz Grows Seed Library by Jen Norton

Seed Library located at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

A Serenade in Lavender

Lavendar and Bee Painted Chair by Jen Norton

Win this chair and benefit the Symphony of Santa Cruz County!

Normally my work is confined to two dimensions, but every once in a while I get to expand my flat universe. Such was the case last week when I was invited to submit a painted chair for the Symphony League of Santa Cruz’s “A Rare Chair Affair.” Creative chairs fashioned or decorated by local artists will be auctioned off on August 20, 2011 to benefit the Santa Cruz County Symphony and their Youth and Family programs.

My friend and marketing expert extraordinaire Kirsti Scott provided a nicely-crafted but worn chair from her garden. Its well-weathered character inspired the French country bee and lavender theme I chose. Working with its inherent grain and personality, I carved, stained, painted and varnished it into a piece of happy cottage charm. It would make a lovely place to sit and sip your morning coffee!

Is this chair destined for your home? Bid on it at the Symphony League’s Gala Reception on Aug 20, 2011 at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, CA! Click the links here or call 831-662-8908 or get your tickets to the event. Bee Happy!

—Update: The chair sold at auction, raising over $500 for the Symphony League! It also won a 3rd place prize at the benefit event. —JN, Aug 26, 2011.

 

 

The Heart of a Servant

“Preparation” by Jen Norton

“Preparation”, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24"

I’ve been busy putting together my Open Studio show for this weekend, which is much like putting together a big banquet. Each piece must find it’s spot, hung in agreement with the work next to it. Loose artwork must be framed or varnished, dressed up and ready for the party. I want patrons to feel they’ve arrived someplace special and we’re happy they’re here! With the theme of table-setting in mind, I thought I’d share my painting “Preparation” with you today. This piece is all about doing everyday, mundane tasks with a spirit of service. It’s about the unseen workers who put their heart and soul into their work so others can experience something new and wonderful. It doesn’t matter if it’s a concert, a product launch, a benefit event or a simple dinner for your family. To make something out of nothing, someone had to put in time and effort to make it happen. And if they did it with love, they just might create something bigger and better than anyone expected. In my perfect world, we would all strive to approach life from the point of view of a servant.

 

Smart Apples

Smart Apples by Jen Norton

Smart Apples, Acrylic on paper, 12 x 12"

Apples and school just go together. I don’t know how many kids still bring their teachers apples now that we have Starbucks gift cards, but the correlation still holds. This piece is acrylic on paper and meant to play up the school-apple connection. Remember learning Cursive writing? And that brown-ish ruled newsprint paper? I performed my “Art Triage” and painted this over an older piece, using it as a base. I love the freeing quality of destroying what no longer suits me, and painting into something that isn’t sacred and white. And in researching apple names to include, I found lists with hundreds of varieties to choose from! Creativity and abundance, it seems, is unlimited in the fruit world. This painting will be available at my Open Studio on May 21/22, 2011.

Time flies when you’re making art

Gift Baskets by Jen Norton Art Studio

Gift Baskets made from Jen Norton artwork. $95-$125

Yikes…I’m looking at the date of my last post, and it’s over a month ago! Well, I have a few excuses, really. There was spring break, of course. And then I’ve been busy madly painting lots of new food-related artwork to whet your appetite at my upcoming spring shows! In addition, I’m now offering gift baskets made from my artwork and I will have some available to purchase and to order at my Open Studio later this month (Mark your calendars for May 21st & 22nd). They’re great for gifts, school auctions, or to celebrate special events. The three shown here were purchased for a recent auction at the Presentation Retreat Center in Los Gatos, CA. I now have Gift Certificates available. Purchase one for Mother’s Day, and let your mom pick out something unique at my Open Studio!

Stay tuned…Later this summer, you might find my gift baskets in my Etsy store. But for now, what do you think of them?

 

Change your oil, enjoy art!

I’ve got an exhibit of about 25 pieces of art up at the Lexus Service Center in Santa Clara. If you’re a Lexus owner and in need of an oil change, you’ll get to enjoy a little art while you wait. Even if you’re not, you can still take a peek at the art as well as the cars on display…and make yourself a cappuccino while you’re at it! The center is located at 300 Martin Ave in Santa Clara (facing the airport) and the show will be up until Feb 27th, 2011.

Jen Norton artwork on display at Lexus Service, Santa Clara, CA.

Lexus Service Center, Santa Clara, CA

Jen Norton artwork on display at Lexus Service, Santa Clara, CA.

Lexus Service Center, Santa Clara, CA.

Jen Norton artwork on display at Lexus Service, Santa Clara, CA.

Lexus Service Center, Santa Clara, CA