For the past week, Kettle Art has been bringing you interviews with the six artists that make up the current “Forces of Nature” line-up.

Today, we turn the spotlight on Jennifer Gregory Portz.

Enjoy …

Jennifer Gregory Portz

Kettle – Please tell us a little about yourself (give a brief bio).
Jennifer – ART is one of my first memories, always drawing.  My birth mum was an artist & my dad was an artist, I truly feel I was born this way.  As my mum died when I was 3, Dad remarried after meeting a great lady at Parents without Partners.  My awesome stepmom gave me constant art support.  This artful support was never ending & magnified by my father in his late life.  Both parents wanted me to ‘get back to art’ after years of ‘regular jobs’ which happen when folks get married & have children like I did, though they’re both gone, my Dad’s little sister of 82years old is quite enthusiastic for me since she took care of me & mum Vi way back.
Kettle – How long have you been pursuing the creative life?
Jennifer – I have pictures of myself in front of my mum’s paintings & I do think my crayons were pure JOY amongst a tragic beginning of early parental loss.  I would say the answer is always.
Kettle – When did you first discover your creative side?
Jennifer – When I was 4, my new stepsister pointed out the EYES I drew on a person (cat-eye slits in round circles) were “wrong”  !  I remember precisely saying I LIKED them that way.  EYES were the first things I drew. Mother said perhaps it was the only thing I remembered about mum Violet, but they are flashcube memories.
Kettle – Do you have formal training, or are you self taught?
Jennifer – I was born with a natural gift it seems, & in elementary years students were constantly begging me to ‘help’ them with their drawings.  Mother enrolled me in private classes at community centers every summer which I ‘earned’ with chores.  All thru school, ART was what kept me sane since I hated school.  Fred Jones Fine Art School at Oklahoma University during the early 80s was nothing less than pure Heaven.  I went for a Painting Degree, but got close with 3yrs towards the 4yr TL, so God made lemonade of my lemons since then.
Kettle – Could you please describe some of your latest work?

Jennifer – Eyes in flowers being observed by wonderment is one piece.  Eyes lost in the grass, much like me lost easily and wanting a GPS!  Eyes feeling watched is another piece.  Eyes entangled nearly in little tiny wildflower type eye-flowers wondering how did I get here so close?

Kettle – How did you decide on the medium with which you work?

Jennifer – Acrylic has been my favorite medium since first discovering it in Art school in 1981. Acrylic is natural to me, unlike any other medium.  I do enjoy collage, so I have done those occasionally since being inspired by my sister in the 70s, but for a much more huge portion of my life, acrylic is my mainstay. 

Kettle – Where did you find the inspiration for your most recent work?

Jennifer – Forces of Nature made me instantly think of my Eye-flowers that I used to draw in Ink back in early 90s.  It so happens that Mother thought my petals of Eyes were wonderful & pun intended: eye-catching!  Translating ink into paint turns out to be a lot of work as I’m quite a details freak.  I have always looked at nature from afar.  I’ve never been a huge outdoors person from early childhood I was always forced outside, ha! 

Kettle – Have you shown at Kettle Art in the past? When? What shows?

Jennifer – I have so far entered For the Love of Kettle for the last 2 years–because I am inspired by Frank Campagna, really dig Kettle Gallery and what Kettle means to the artist community.  Getting into Art Conspiracy has been a huge blessing, as it’s been a road to great artist friends to be in shows with.  Having a small group show with great artists at Kettle has been on my bucket list.

Kettle – What most intrigues you about your latest show at Kettle Art? Why?

Jennifer – Kettle Gallery is a warm place to show first of all.  The artists that I’m in the show with are all dear hearted women, and the variety of talents they express in their individual mediums makes me feel proud to be with them.

Kettle – How did you approach the work you created for this exhibit?

Jennifer – With my enthusiasm, I did no pre-planning drawings before beginning, I went into straight painting on canvas. 

Kettle – What do you want viewers to take away from your work at this show?

Jennifer – EYES make you think about things closely, so I want people to be more observant in this precious world we have.

Kettle – Is there a particular message you are trying to convey through your work?

Jennifer – Eyes are the windows to the soul people say all the time.  I would like people to remember a very personal feeling towards others and nature, to be more thoughtful of their own impact because of the eyes they see in my work.

Kettle – What artists have influenced your life & work? Why?

Jennifer – Picasso is the first artist to EVER impact me.  He made it look QUITE fun when he painted on the glass towards the camera and he made it look like a snap.  Drawing was a snap to me, painting has been a learning road beginning in watercolors which I didn’t love when I was little & acrylics in Art school at OU.  I became a professional muralist after my 2nd child because I wanted to make ‘bread-n-butter’ to help my family and still be the mom I wanted to be.  I knew the famous artists were either discovered with the right time & right place OR they were working like mad doing professional portraits to make a living.  I wanted to WORK and I wanted to CREATE.  There are other artists that I enjoy, but Picasso’s work has always gotten to me because he expressed in so many different styles so I strive in my mural work & my personal expression as well. 

Kettle – If you could collaborate with another artist (from the past or present), who would that be & why?

Jennifer – Just from experience, it takes quite a unique arrangement for artists to work together on a project so I’m in awe of those who do that.  I have very few artists I would feel able to do that with.  I must say my friend Julia Schloss I feel I could naturally work with at some point as we have different styles that don’t collide & similar goals.

Kettle – Describe yourself in 5 words.

Jennifer – 1) enthusiastic  2)friendly 3)artistic 4)funny 5)conscientious

Kettle – What 5 words would others use to describe you?

Jennifer – 1) Friendly   2) Hyper 3) Funny, 4) Thoughtful  5) Artist

Kettle – What is next for you creatively?

Jennifer – Next show I’m included in will be Cool Waters 3 at The Kessler on August 13 with Julia Schloss.  I’m very excited because I really do enjoy painting water from all the murals I’ve done, so I’ll be incorporating the ocean & eyes, very fun!  After this show I’ll be gearing up to enter some little fun works for Lake Point Fall Fest as I love to serve artfully. Art Conspiracy 7 will be something I do NOT want to miss this year, so I keep my eyes peeled J

“Forces of Nature” is currently showing at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum. The show runs through mid-July. Please come by and check out the work in person. You won’t be disappointed.