Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions

Our own Jennifer Orkin Lewis answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.


Q. Where do you find inspiration? Do you go for walks in town, look at nature shows on TV, or just start scribbling and see where your muse takes you?

A. I find my inspiration everywhere. I may see a story in the newspaper or magazine that interests me. On a walk I may see some cute little critters, or a person that is dressed in a striking way. A garden is always inspiring. In summer I will paint a few beach and pool scenes; in winter, a snowy walk. There are also themes I love to paint and always go back to exploring, such as flowers, crowds of people, cats. Since I’m painting something new in my sketchbook everyday I can’t spend too much time contemplating what I want to paint. The main thing for me is it has to feel right for the day. It doesn’t work for me keep a list of prompts to follow. The painting usually has relevance to my day or my mindset. I sometimes wake up with the exact image in my head but other days I need to think about it a little longer. 


Q. What’s your schedule like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night?

A. I work full time. I usually get up to my studio by 8 or 8:30 AM. I try to get my sketchbook painting finished by 10 AM. I keep a list of the projects and am very good about judging how much I have to do on each one to be finished by the deadline. As I do the work on each one I cross it off my list for the day. I try to get to the gym at least 3 days a week and/or take a nice long walk. It wakes me up and refreshes me to continue working. By 7:00 PM I’m finished. There’s no more energy or creativity left to work at night unless I am really crunched for time. When things are a little slower I try to get out for tea with a friend, or go to a museum. I try to keep the weekends open for personal time. I do paint in my sketchbook each weekend morning for 30 minutes or so and may do a few hours of work so the week is a little less intense. Spreading it out!


Q. Do you begin by sketching or planning a piece of art? Or do you just dive in and see where your pencil takes you?

A. When I am doing my personal work I do a quick, light pencil sketch, mostly so the piece is centered correctly on the paper and to give me a bit of a guideline. I don’t really draw it out with any detail, just the general shapes and placement. Then I dive in with paint and experiment and play. I think of my personal work as a time to learn and explore. When I am doing client work I sketch it out with much more detail so I can show what I am thinking before we move on to color. Because the pencil sketches don’t look at all like the final piece I will sometimes sketch in paint so my idea is more accurately depicted.