Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell, Fine Art and Illustration.
Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell, professional artist and illustrator, paints in a representational style, nearly always incorporating people, especially children, into her narrative paintings. Her captivating, colorful work invites the viewer to participate in the story. Currently, in addition to freelancing, Houdeshell, is enjoying illustrating picture books for children under contract to Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. in Saint Louis. (Please see 3 of the trailers for the books on her Home page below the first illustration.) Recently, she has also painted a series of 24 black and white "Faces of Human Trafficking" to help raise awareness of the scourge of sex trafficking in the United States of America. These 24 paintings have been exhibited in a wide range of public art settings.in Central Florida where she resides.
In addition to working on commissions, Jennifer recently completed illustrating James Byers' picture book, THE FOSTER OPOSSUMS. Previously published picture books which she has illustrated are these three by Guardian Angel Publishing: THE VETERANS' CLUBHOUSE written by Kristen K. Zajac, THAT'S A LOT OF LOVE
, written by Jennifer Bond Reed, EBENEEZER'S COUSIN
written by Kristen Zajac (published in English and Spanish) and one book published by United Way of Northeast Florida: PETER AND THE SILENT SIREN, written by Gigi Morales David. That book, Houdeshell's first, was a contract resulting from winning a statewide United Way competition for Florida illustrators, part of an innovative grant that funded the initial release of 10,000 copies of the book. .
Houdeshell, a Wright State University graduate, who taught art in the public schools of Ohio and Florida for 17 years, has also exhibited paintings in numerous venues and locations including the Museum of Florida Art and its former DeLand Museum of Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Carrollwood Cultural Center, Florida's DeBary City Hall, the African American Museum of Art-Florida (solo show), the Gateway Center for the Arts, the Volusia County Florida Health Department, DeBary Florida's St. Ann's Catholic Church, Orange City United Methodist, First United Methodist of Port Orange, and Tomoka United Methodist churches of Florida, the Brevard Museum, Casements, the Florida State Capitol Building, the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton's High Street Gallery, Orlando’s City Factory Art Galleries, Casselberry’s Art House, Nashville’s Parthenon Galleries, the Cheekwood Art Museum, and the galleries of the Universities of Tennessee, Dayton and Mt.Saint Joseph.
As a freelance artist, some of Houdeshell's clients have been Universal Designs, the Natural History Museum of the University of Florida, the Florida United Methodist Church Conference, Walt Disneyworld Village, United Way of Northeast Florida, the Lawrence E. Whelan Hospice Grief Center, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Orange City's United Methodist and First Congregational Churches, Volusia County Baptist Church, Volusia County Schools, WCEU-TV, and the News-Journal Corporation. She has also done many private sector commissions and murals for individuals and schools and has taught at various museums, art centers and at a shelter for the homeless and at a summer camp for children with cerebral palsy. She still teaches private lessons at her studio in Tampa and occasional workshops at various venues.
The main body of my work is figurative with an emphasis upon child nurturing relationships, religious themes and the extremely important social justice issues of human trafficking and homelessness. I work in oils and alkyds due to the brilliance and depth of the hues and the textural qualities of the paint. Often, I use a verdaccio underpainting with multilayered glazing, a technique that originated during the Renaissance, because it adds a richness of color that I find aesthetically pleasing. Over the years, I have been inspired by the work of Kathe Kollwitz, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Michelangelo, Vermeer, Irving Amen, and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Susan Jeffers, Caroline Binch, and Sibyl Graber Gerig are my favorite illustrators, and Lewis Hine and David Parker, much admired photographers.
I believe in commitments: to God, to my wonderful husband and daughters, and to my work which is my affirmation of life and the power of love. Art is a spiritual link with my Creator. It is the lilting, haunting melody which leads me through my life both in times of sunshine and of shadow. Sometimes it dances joyously, bright and free. Sometimes, it is more subtle, submerged beneath life’s demands, but like an underground river of pure water that sustains and refreshes. Art can calm me and lift me. It can make urgent demands and wear me to a frazzle or gift me with bursts of energy I didn’t know were possible. It occupies so many of my waking thoughts. It is hope, my inspiration, a holy thing, a gift from God. It is my life’s blood as surely as that which flows through my veins, and when the end of my earthly days comes, I can say through my art work and my students left behind that I believe in the precious uniqueness and creative potential of each individual and in the sanctity of life.