Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell, Fine Art and Illustration.
Welcome to my website and thank you for stopping by! As a professional artist and illustrator, I paint in a representational style nearly always incorporating people, especially children, into my narrative work, and using composition and color (or sometimes bold black and white) to invite you, the viewer, to participate in the story. Please visit my Home page below my Intro illustration to see the trailers for several of the 5 children's picture books I have illustrated, 4 for Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. and one for United Way.
In addition to freelancing and commission work, I have also done a series of 24 black and white paintings I call "Faces of Human Trafficking" to help raise awareness and educate about the scourge of sex trafficking in the United States of America. These 24 paintings have been exhibited in a wide range of public and private art centers and galleries as well as government and church settings in Central Florida where I reside. Wherever I speak on the topic of human trafficking, I bring some of the paintings with me to help my audiences make a powerful visual connection to the true stories told to me by survivors and the information I share. To respect the privacy and dignity of these survivors, the faces in the paintings are not theirs.
A Wright State University graduate, I taught art full time in the public schools of Ohio and Florida for 17 years, and after returning to freelancing, taught part-time at various art centers, museums, and a day shelter for the homeless as well as presenting workshops at a variety of venues. I've exhibited paintings in numerous juried shows and exhibits including: the Museum of Florida Art and its former DeLand Museum, the Orlando Museum of Art, Tampa's Carrollwood Cultural Center, DeBary's City Hall and Government Center, the African American Museum of Art-DeLand (solo show), the Gateway Center for the Arts, the Brevard Museum, Casements, the Florida State Capitol Building, the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton's High Street Gallery, Orlando's City Factory Galleries, Casselberry's Art House, Nashville's Parthenon Galleries, Nashville's Cheekwood Art Museum, the Volusia County Florida Health Department Headquarters, St. Ann's Catholic Church, DeBary, Fl., Orange City United Methodist, First United Methodist of Port Orange, Daytona's Tomoka United Methodist, and the art galleries of the Universities of Tennessee, Dayton and Mt. Saint Joseph.
As a freelance artist, some of my corporate clients have been Universal Designs, the Natural History Museum of the University of Florida, the Florida United Methodist Church Conference Headquarters in Lakeland, 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, the former WCEU-TV, and the News-Journal Corporation. I've also done and continue to do many private sector commissions for individuals and schools. In addition to painting, I still enjoy teaching private lessons at my Tampa studio.
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 usually 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, George Tooker, 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 beloved family, 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.