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(Image courtesy of Jeanette Crooks)
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Artist of the Week: Jeanette Crooks

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at gmwynkoop@sbgtv.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been Creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Jeanette Crooks: I’ve been creating all kinds of arts and crafts most of my life, but more seriously over the past 10-15 years. I studied art in high school in the early '80s where I learned to paint in acrylic and watercolor. I have dabbled in many other mediums since then. My main focus now is Found Object Assemblage (sculptures made from found objects, recycled, and discarded items). I’ve also found a renewed love for watercolor this year, after 30 years of putting it away! I paint landscapes, pet portraits, and pretty much anything relating to nature.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
When I’m doing assemblage work, my process is a bit quirky like me. My studio is what I like to call organized chaos. Everything I need to start an assemblage is basically at my fingertips, but I have so much cool stuff, it’s hard not to get distracted. When I figure out a theme, I just start gathering different objects and set them in a pile, then I start glue-ing, drilling, mounting and painting. Once it’s all together, I like to add encouraging words or funny captions to my pieces. That’s my favorite part! People really get a kick out of that. I usually create my best work at 2 a.m. when all is quiet, nobody needs me, and I’m in my own little twisted world!

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from?
I’ve always had a love of antiques, old dolls, toys, miniatures and anything holiday related. I’m a huge fan of recycling too. When I do assemblage, I feel like I’m reviving something in these objects that were either once loved, or served a useful purpose in someone’s life. It really starts to come out in my work. I feel good about using recycled items in my art. I like to think I’m doing my small part to keep stuff out of the landfills!

Do you have a specific beat you like best, nature, food, profiles, etc!
Nature, undoubtedly is what I am drawn to when I paint. With my assemblage, that is anyone’s guess! That has a mind of its own.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special?
My commissioned pet portraits are very special to me. While I’m painting a cat or dog, I feel connected to them because it’s an animal someone loves or has loved. That brings such joy to me to immortalize them for their owner. With my assemblage, sometimes I get attached to my pieces. If I really like how they turned out, I will keep them around until the newness wears off, before I’m ready to let them go out into the world. Some pieces I’ve sold before anyone had a chance to really see them. That’s why I take photos of everything I make so I have a visual record of what I’ve created.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I suspect two marriages, one divorce and five kids had something to do with it. Mostly, my mother teaching me how to do crafts at a young age would be an experience that stuck with me and my sister the rest of our lives. We were taught to look at what we had and make something out of it. I remember making hand puppets for a school play in 6th grade and making Christmas ornaments and clay jewelry and we just loved doing it. My mom always encouraged me to create. It was in her nature to add all the little “over the top” details to whatever she was working on. I like to think I got my tenacious spirit and attention to detail from her. When my mom passed away 11 years ago, it made me realize just how short life is. She had started learning how to paint just six years earlier and she was amazing at it! I felt like she never really had enough time to nurture that talent. I’m paying homage to my mom now, when I paint. It’s her...gently speaking to me...encouraging me to keep going!

If we want to see more of your work where should we go?
My assemblage art, paintings, jewelry and greeting cards are available seven days a week at Grand Leader Mercantile, in downtown Everett. I’ve also recently launched a website www.crooksycreations.com where I sell small works and jewelry. I’m also on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram at Crooksy Creations.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on that you’re really excited about?
I plan to further my art education by taking classes and workshops at the Kirkland Art Center, where I met Che Lopez, a fabulous Watercolor Artist and teacher there. He has taught me so much already, I can’t wait to learn more! I want to learn how to paint people next. I have a year long online class I will be taking called “Let's Face It,” where I hope to learn how to paint portraits and the human figure. In 2020, I will be participating in several shows showcasing my assemblage art as well. I sell at a show twice a year called Oddmall, at the Monroe Fairgrounds in May and November 2020. Anyone that knows me, knows I’m the most excited, when I get to sell my art in person!

How do you take your coffee?
Double tall cinnamon dolce latte, with whip, no sprinkles.

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