Searching for a Sustainable Practice ~ Part 2
Kenny Jensen Blog Post # 9
My Background in Painting:
I have always loved looking at paintings especially the works of the masters – old and new. Some of my most impactful art/life experiences have been looking at paintings in local, national, and international museums. My relationship with actually making paintings is much more complicated and fraught. Since I was young I thought of myself as a painter, but I have also always been a curious explorer of many ways of art making as the wide variety of work on my website and IG profile indicate. I made paintings consistently throughout my schooling, from primary school on. In college I received a BFA with a double emphasis in graphic design and painting. During college I also sold several paintings including a few portrait commissions. However, my senior thesis project incorporated dozens of zany explorations incorporating interactive sculpture and installation, photography, video, performance, as well as many paintings at a wide range in scale, paint mediums and styles. It was over the top. Exciting, fun, well received, and yes, intense.
Post college I collapsed. Being me (and making art round the clock while hardly sleeping) is exhausting. When I finally got back up, I tried, but could not convince myself to be a painter. Nor was I able to find a lasting alternative practice to focus my expanding creative energy on. As I saw it, the abundant potential of life and the heavy weight that put on me demanded that I (insainly) explore everything all at once. I pursued a wide variety of expression, and took a deep dive into all the fields of learning that captivated my interest music, video, photography, installation, curiosity collection… During this time of general exploration I created series of 3 paintings exploring a concept that I have now returned to with my new work (more on this to follow). I have included images of two of these works completed in 2007. They currently live in my sister Rachel’s collection in San Diego. I just got these pics last week.
Looking back, something about the combination of structure and freedom that college provided was a good fit for my overflowing creativity, insatiable curiosity, and unstoppable drive to produce. I have always struggled with narrowing things down and with consistent discipline in my art practice and in life. I think that I could have really gained from the further structure, restriction and focused guidance that an MFA program could have provided, but for several reasons that was not the path I chose. I think it mostly had to do with fear and self doubt, which are still very present. Besides I could very well have been guided to forget painting altogether. As an academic loyalist colleague of mine recently regurgitated “Why paint? Painting is Dead.”
It is time for some resurrection.