Finds Creativity in the Routine
Jill Jensen knows a thing or two about methodical problem-solving. With an educational background in material science and chemistry, Jensen spent the early years of her career as an engineer.
“Part of what I’ve learned in science training is that you don’t quit,” Jensen explained. “If the first thing doesn’t work, you come up with a solution and you keep going.”
When Jensen left her engineering role to start her family, she applied that same diligence to her other passion: printmaking.
“There is a rhythm [with printmaking] that comes into play,” she said. “Printmaking is process-oriented and there are multiple steps to get from the idea or image in your head to the final piece of work.
I like the process of methodically going through the steps of coming up with ideas. I draw the ideas out on tracing paper, so I can turn the paper over and transfer the image to a block. Then, I carve the plate.”
When Jensen creates her original designs, they are only contour drawings with no details, which allows her a bit of creative freedom to add elements as she works. As Jensen explores the possibilities of each design, she incorporates color pencil sketches within the print or will add embroidery or machine stitching to add even more texture and visual interest.
Jensen’s printmaking has evolved over time to incorporate additional media largely because of her daily and weekly commitment to creating something every day.
“I have both a daily art practice and a weekly art practice,”
she explained. “I make sure that I do some sort of artwork every day, usually a drawing in a sketchbook. I made the rule for myself that I can’t go to bed until I put something in a sketchbook—it may be pen and ink, pen and ink plus watercolor—but something has to be done every day. And then I have my weekly practice. I have the rule that between Sunday and midnight Saturday of that week that I must do a miniature art quilt. It can be related to something that happened that week—like a holiday or something—or an experiment in mixing colors or carving a new printing plate.
It changes size each year, but it is the same size for the entire year. On the backside of each miniature quilt, I journal about what happened that week. Each one has a weekly number and then the date that I did it.”
Jensen has been committed to her weekly practice for 22 years, only missing her midnight deadline twice.
“If you stop, you lose momentum,” she said. “Knowing myself, I realize how important it is for me to make something, no matter how small it is. To keep the ball rolling.”
Jensen will be participating in a solo art exhibition at The Lynchburg Art Club for the entire month of January. Her work is available for purchase via jilljensenart.com, and she is currently accepting commissions.