I have a strong connection with drawing and painting as far back as I can remember. When I was just ten, I used to love to sketch and paint the beaches, gardens and hillsides of my native Connecticut. Before long, I was also focusing on animals. A love of nature, of capturing with a blink of an eye the beauty and solitude of our God-given surroundings, propels me. Art has and always will be my refuge. I think one of the reasons for my success is that that feeling comes through in my work.
I am lucky in that I can work in many mediums. I have never tried to limit myself. I paint and draw. One thing that binds my work is color. Color is everything. I spend hours mixing colors, just to capture that certain hue.
ON HER COLORED PENCIL ANIMAL PAINTINGS:
My animal paintings come from my soul. There is something about having a pencil in my hand and capturing the essence of these beautiful creatures that makes me feel incredibly peaceful.
Helen’s work has graced the pages of books on colored pencil art, and is recognized for her stunning, vibrant portraits of animals – images made even more powerful when one discovers that these intimate paintings are actually colored pencil drawings. Be it slumbering rhinos or four-horn sheep, Jennings draws with great accuracy and expertise, skillfully infusing her work with light and shadow, a virtual kaleidoscope of color. Her mastery of technique called burnishing, whereby colors are blended and smeared, gives her drawings a “painterly” look. It also leaves one with a sense that her images are intricate constructions of pure color.
When I choose an animal that I want to draw, I sit for hours, just observing and photographing, capturing the various subtleties of its behavior. Back at my studio, I always begin with the eyes of the animal and work them to near completion before anything else. To me, the eyes speak volumes, revealing and emotional truth that comes through in my paintings.
ON HER IMPRESSIONISTIC LANDSCAPE, FLORAL, AND FRUIT PAINTINGS:
Simplicity, peace, balance, color. That’s nature’s magic. And, that’s what I try to capture in my landscape, garden and water scenes. I like to think that my work serves as a reminder, underscoring the often ignored truth that real peace resides in ourselves and nature.
I like the undefined structure of the impressionistic style of painting. It lets me create a mood through the build up of color and natural brushstrokes. And, it is very in keeping with the spirituality of nature – It has no borders; it is there and all encompassing; it’s unwavering in its intention; and it makes us feel.