We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Krueger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, why did you pursue a creative career?
My health directed me into pursuing an artistic career. I have always been an artist; however, I was not completely sure that it could be something I could build a life from. I pursued clinical forensic psychology and anthrozoology before realizing I should follow my passion in art. I became ill in 2008 with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and have since struggled with the disease. Despite my struggle, I stayed in school and was determined to find a career path that I enjoyed but would also provide me with health insurance. I received my master’s degree in Anthrozoology from the University of Exeter in 2016; however, I have always been too ill to be dependable enough for any job possibilities. It was that moment that I realized there was only one thing I consistently turned to in my life even if I was ill, and it was my artwork. Art allows me to work when I am feeling well, take breaks when I need them, and gives me the freedom of off days when my illness flares. I work primarily in animal portraiture and have found that my degree in anthrozoology has not only given me the knowledge of human and non-human animal relationships, but also fuels my passion to bring conservation efforts into my artistic themes. Art has given me the opportunity to express my love for animals and conservation and has also allowed me to inspire and educate people to love the natural world around them.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artwork has developed quite drastically over the last year or so – especially during the pandemic. I developed my watercolor and ink style in 2013 after thinking my regular watercolor paintings needed something more. As I was in school, I continued to take pet portrait commissions, but it was not until a few years ago that I became a full-time artist and wanted to focus on conservation. Last year I saw a photograph of a tiger online and knew that I not only had to paint that tiger, but also that the painting had to be large. Through a bit of trial and error, and the help of an Italian artist named Irene Meniconi, I began my large painting series of endangered species. I cut watercolor paper into 3in x 3in squares and adhered them to a 36in x 60in wood panel. This allowed me to create a grid to draw the tiger accurately and added some great texture to the piece. I then painted the tiger in watercolor and stippled in archival ink over the top. It is still one of my favorite pieces I have ever created. Since the pandemic, I have continued to develop my work and push myself further. I mainly painted in oils in college and had a bit of an itch to return to them, but I was still very dedicated to my watercolor and ink style. A spark of genius, I think, led me to my current style of blending oils, watercolor and ink, acrylics, and whatever else I can find together. My ideas come from an intuitive place and usually I hope for the best as I carry them out. So far, this has been my most exciting journey in my art! Although the pieces are quite labor intensive, they are meditative and healing for me. My current series celebrates the wild horses of the United States and brings to light the need for their conservation and how we can build a healthy and balanced ecosystem where we can all thrive. For me, staying true to my vision and self, consistent in my work, and reaching out to other artists for help has been crucial in where I am today. I have not only grown in my business and artistic skills but have also been able to create a supportive network of fellow artists both locally and globally. My brand is based in my story. I am incredibly passionate about the animals of this world and conserving their habitats and want to share that love and passion through my art. I have donated many of my works to conservation groups, animal shelters, and sanctuaries over the years and have found that raising money for these groups is another one of my passions. It allows me to not only share my work with the world but also give back to my community. I also love painting pet portraits in my watercolor and ink style to celebrate the relationships we have with our animal companions. For I believe that animals and our relationships with them can help us bring more compassion and empathy to our world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are an incredible number of things to do, especially art related in Arizona. From catching a show at Comerica Theatre to Ballet Arizona to all the museums and galleries in and around Phoenix, such as the Heard Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum, you will never run out of things to do. There are so many galleries all within walking distance of each other in Scottsdale, such as On the Edge Gallery, Wilde Meyer Gallery, Xanadu Gallery, etc. that always make for a great day of exploring. A trip to the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, and Papago Park are also a must for visiting Phoenix! For places to eat, Green New American Vegetarian and Nami Vegan Sweets are a definite must! One of my favorite places to visit outside of the city itself is the Tonto National Forest. Besides being absolutely beautiful, the Salt River Wild Horses reside there, so catching a glimpse and watching them eat the eel grass is always on my list of things to do.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is completely dedicated to the love and support of my parents. I honestly do not know where I would be without them. When I became severely ill in 2008 with Ankylosing Spondylitis, they stepped into the roles of not just supportive parents, but my care team and advocates in the medical community. They attended all of my doctor appointments, stayed on the phone for hours with insurance companies, joined me at the hospital for every three hour infusion, would help me walk from room to room, comforted me when I was in inexplicable physical pain, and were always there whenever I needed them (and still are). They took on a lot of responsibilities for me, all while supporting me in whatever new idea I had for what I wanted to do with my life. They truly are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met, and I am grateful every single day to call them my parents.
Other: Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/jenwincreations