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(Image courtesy of Jenna Howell)

Artist of the Week: Jenna Howell

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 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?
Jenna Howell: I've been painting and drawing for about 9 years and teaching for over 3 years. I currently focus only on watercolor and pen, but I have worked with a variety in the past.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My process with a watercolor painting begins with thick, bold strokes with an over sized brush, full of juicy paint. It is fascinating to watch at this stage when rich color is dropped into a shiny wet area. The pigment seeps and swirls together, and we can see that the water is in control. Not the artist. Watercolor is unique in its way, and is the reason I favor the process. Then comes my favorite part- the details. I use a variety of pens as well as my small liner brush to begin adding small interesting strokes to the piece of art. I believe that these final touches are what make a painting visually interesting.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration comes from many areas. Lately, it has been from interesting color combinations. I truly love taking time to test clever color combinations and then begin brainstorming ways to apply that to a painting. Other times, inspiration strikes when I visually connect with my surroundings. Walking past the beach I may see just the sliver of a house, the roof top and awning, everything else is covered in trees and my mind wanders to how I would create this scene into a painting.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Honestly, I really enjoy doing a variety of subjects when painting. As you will see in my photos, I paint a lot of florals, landscapes and some animals. Whatever I am inspired to paint that day!

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I have done a watercolor design for both my own, and my sister's wedding inventions, which is of course a really special thing to do. Most of the art I think back on as being special, were commissions I have made for others. I absolutely love creating a very meaningful piece and hearing how it has touched them or their family. I believe art should bring happiness to the home.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
In high school, I began turning to art as a way to escape reality, to solely focus on making something beautiful when surrounded by chaos. Over the years, what I create and the style in which create, has definitely changed. I battled depression and anxiety, amongst other issues, but after my mother passed away, I made the decision that I no longer wished to be miserable. I vowed to remain steadfast and happy, and to use the love she left behind. What started as black and white pen drawings of skulls and dark images, transformed into flowers and bright images. It's a representation of my commitment to always remain positive.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am continuing to teach more workshops and host lovely watercolor sketching classes on Alki beach. I find such joy in sharing my love of watercolor with others and watching them discover their abilities as artists!

Lastly, how do you take your coffee?
I recently was gifted a lovely espresso machine, so I am currently loving at home lattes. My dad owns the best local coffee company called Casey's Coffee, so as long as it's Casey's, I'll drink it.