We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeni Tomlinson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeni, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I have friends. I have friends that love my work. They may start as clients, but eventually we fall in love with each other. So much of my heart is tied up into the paintings and work that I create. To give those special things to someone requires a bit of faith that they will give it a space in their lives that will continue to protect it. I love to become part of my collectors lives and it thrills me to see my work in their homes and offices. It is a part of me that continues and grows with their families as well. I believe that type of connection creates close collectors and people who root for your success and watch your growth as an artist with joy and cheers. I try my best to keep my connections with emails, invites, social media and many other ways. It is important to collectors and to myself to attach my story and life to each work so every painting is so much more than just a decorative piece.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was that girl in class that drew everyone. I have old classmates that say they still have my simple drawing from twenty years ago as a prized gift. How cool is that? I slightly stumbled into the work that I have today. Newly married and still in college for Art, my husband and I made friends with a neighbor who was an interior designer who saw something in me and my work. I did a few small murals for her company and so flourished a new career. It was a difficult bohemian life that saw years with little return and other years with so much work! Who remembers the millennium baby? I painted a LOT of baby room murals that year. The housing crisis slowed much of the mural work, but my husband, Charlie and I learned to pivot and moved to building and restoring furniture. I learned to create beautiful finishes on antiques that would have been thrown away. Even so, the urge to paint art was itching furiously in the background. My ambition to be known as a fine artist in galleries and to win at juried shows spurred me to enter prestigious shows like Texas and Neighbors and the Unique by Nature show to name a few. I started to win in National competitions and to work together with my fabulous McKinney art scene. So many of the artists in this area are rooting for each other in such a sweet manner. We all want each other to succeed. It’s a great family. I want the world to know my work. I consider myself always in flux and growth. I want to paint what draws me and paint it well. Every new canvas is an exploration of trying to be better than I was or to learn something new. Every painting is NOT a winner. I have a stash of canvases ready to be painted over! And that actually makes me happy. That means I am willing to fail and learn and do it again. I paint what feels iconic. I have to see something that makes me feel a real pang of something. Nostalgia, yearning, love of beauty, the flash of shadow and flow of light. These things I hope come out in my work and draws the same yearning from the observer.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in the best town ever. It is a pretty big town, but it has retained so much of it’s charm in it’s downtown. McKinney, Texas is a Texas jewel. Let me invite ya to my backyard. I’d say let’s try out a few fabulous restaurants, like Snug on the Square for a tasty breakfast and phenomenal coffee. I wouldn’t know. Coffee tastes icky to me, but their Spicy Chai? It’s heaven. For a fun evening dinner, we’d try the Yard. It is a delightful outside playland with fun games in their tree shaded yard with a funky outside bar eatery and and swanky inside dining. Fabulous food as well. Rick’s Chophouse will wow with their fancy steaks. I would definitely sneak a friend to Cookie’s Restaurant for true Mexican Menudo on Saturday morning. They have so many authentic flavors of things that I have tried and have no idea what it was. Happy to adventure. For hang out, I would introduce everyone to the cool and low-key arts scene in McKinney. We have an amazing gallery downtown with around 50 juried and innovative artists. Diverse, talented and professional is the exact tone with a splash of funky. Walk down the street to The Cove, and visit every weekend with a different artist. Many of the artist friends would be seen there for a great glass of wine and captivating conversation. You have a beautiful Bohemian Salon there with artists, musicians, performers and lovers of all forms of people. It’s a great evening, especially in the Fall with the big door up and the night sky on display. So many neighbors in town would welcome you to their backyard firepit for sweet drinks and conversation. That’s the true beauty of McKinney. It’s a town of neighbors. Good ones.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many of my collectors are just normal folk. They don’t work at fancy jobs or have high titles. They are people who spend their money wisely and considerately. So, when they purchase my paintings, it means so much more to me than a corporate purchaser or interior decorator. When a gentle sweet lover of my work chooses my paintings, I know it will be in their family for the rest of their lives, and possibly their children’s as well. I become a cherished childhood memory to someone. A painting could become a start of a love of horses or guitars that creates something special in a lifetime. What an honor and privilege.
Facebook: Jeni Weems Tomlinson
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