Jenny Doh is a painter, teacher, and book editor/publisher based in Santa Ana. She recently visited the Getty Center and picked up a book called Some Japanese Flowers in the Getty Store on her way out. Using the colors in the book as a reference, Jenny painted her own flowers and posted the process on Instagram, which led to her work being featured on #GettyInspired and on buses around town.
I asked Jenny what inspires her and how her art has evolved over the years.
What types of things do you paint?
I’ve painted birds and moths, but actually I’m painting other things these days. I wonder frequently if I should just focus on one subject, but my personality and temperament are such that I just can’t stick to one thing for too long. At this very moment, I’m doing a lot of oil portraits and also dabbling in landscapes. I also do flowers and [did] paper boats.
My late brother took his life two years ago, and in response to that I painted paper boats for a good two years. It was the most tragic and most beautiful thing that I’ve gone through, the grieving and reflecting and thinking and expressing through art.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration in every person, place, and thing. Art in museums, galleries, studios, the street, food (I love to cook and eat), music (I love to play—cello and ukulele mostly—and listen to it), literature and poetry, good movies, good conversations, coaches and people at my gym, my family, my friends, and the details of the current times that we live in.
I don’t take it lightly that I get to wake up every day and pursue the expression of my point of view through art with uninterrupted focus. But what inspires me isn’t just the happy stuff. I am inspired to respond to things that are opposite of happy. There was once a person who commented on social media that she liked my “whimsical angst,” referencing my paintings. I really loved that she picked up on my angst and that she described it as whimsical. I really love that so much.
What else do you do? I snooped through your Instagram a bit and found that you have a pretty cool book of creative exercises available for pre-order!
Yes, my newest book is titled Craft-a-Doodle Deux, a sequel to Craft-a-Doodle, which came out a couple of years ago. In my former life, I was a magazine editor. I was editor-in-chief/director of publishing of Somerset Studio and its sister publications. I did that for about six years, and then I decided I wanted to start my own company and offer my publishing services to book publishers.
The next book in the pipeline is Creative Lettering for Kids, which has grown out of the success of two prequels: Creative Lettering and More Creative Lettering. And then we are talking about a few others including a solo painting book that I am very excited about.
You also have an art studio.
Yes, I run an art studio in the Artists Village in Santa Ana, California. I teach in my studio and host visiting teachers. The studio was just a 12-month experiment in my mind when I decided to open it. We are now in our fifth year, and it’s been great. It takes the pressure off of trying to find a gallery/agent to get my art hung and seen. The city hosts an art walk the first Saturday of every month so there is a nice walking audience that comes around every month.
As a fine artist, how do you feel about sharing your work on social media?
Sharing my work on social media is a great release for me. I feel there is a part of me that I describe as “exhibitionist.” I mean, I really love expressing and sharing and showing snippets of my work and my life, and engaging with the world that way.
Ironically, I go through moments when I want to shut it all down and crawl under the sheets and hide from everyone and everything. Same thing with the studio. As much as I enjoy interacting with actual humans who come through the studio either for a workshop, private lesson, or monthly art walks, there are times I want to say “everybody get out,” and shut the doors and leave. But I don’t do that of course. Or at least I haven’t yet.
I have a feeling I’m not alone in these types of feelings. It’s just much too much at times, you know? And sometimes it feels so phony, and I wonder to myself, am I phony? I don’t want to be. I want to be creating from a sincere place. So then the day goes by, I connect with my family at the dinner table, read some, think some, and the sun rises again, and it feels right again to create and share with sincerity as much as possible.
Text of this post © J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved.