Jenny is self-taught, picking up the brush late in life when the children had left home. She has discovered techniques enabling her to work on canvas using watercolor and since 2003 she has religiously stuck to these methods. She explores and pushes boundaries, harnessing traditional form which allows the techniques to have an expression of their own. These techniques come into play with her series – Florida Flowers, Cool, Calm & Collected and Petites Fleurs.
Being surrounded by sea is a huge source of Jenny’s inspiration – never does the sea or sky look the same, giving endless excitement to her color book. The moods of the sea inspire her in a poetic and spiritual sense and each painting in her Cool, Calm & Collected Series comes with its own poem. This series is created using a wet-on-wet technique and Jenny follows her intuition as to where the painting is going.
Florida flowers feature in many of her paintings too. The series Florida Flowers are inspired by the beautiful, and some exotic flowers she sees in her neighborhood and are painted on canvas prepared with torn tissue paper glued to it. This creates an impressionistic style as if dried flowers were used. Concentrating on three colors she creates stunning paintings offered as duos to brighten any room.
Jenny sells internationally through her website www.jennybleackley.com as well as galleries locally in St Petersburg, Florida and in the U.K. Please contact her for further information, to visit her studio or for sales.
Can you tell us a little about how you got to where you are now?
Jenny: I have lovely memories as a child, sitting with my mother painting and drawing from magazines and photos. Growing up I wanted to go to art school but it was in the 60’s with sex, drugs, and rock & roll – not something my parents wanted me to get into. A nine to five office job, then a family and when the children left home I started to paint. I found an excellent teacher who, incidentally, was at art school with David Hockney, and attended class once a week. She taught watercolor with so many exciting techniques one of which was how to paint on canvas. That was in the UK 2003.
In 2011 we bought a place in St Petersburg, Florida, initially as a vacation home. At the time little did I know the City was a great arts destination and exploding in the most exciting ways. A neighbor found me a studio and this helped us to decide to move here permanently in 2013. The ArtsXchange is a complex of 25 studios in St Petersburg where I now have my own. Finally, later in life I am doing what I have always wanted to do; be an artist amongst an array of talented artists and in a City growing by the minute with artists and museums and exciting hip venues.
How would you define your visual style?
Jenny: My style is an impressionistic fine art.
How long have you been pursuing your career as a full-time artist?
Jenny: I became a full-time artist in 2013, when I acquired my first studio.
What did you leave behind to follow your passion in art?
Jenny: I was a massage therapist working in a medical setting.
Would life be different if you didn’t act on your creativity?
Jenny: Yes, I hated the nine to five office job. I had to find some creativity to maintain my sanity – massage therapy is creative and intuitive – we called it active meditation. When I met my husband, I told him I wanted to paint and was working towards fitting this into my life, the massage therapy gave me the autonomy to do this. He said he was very happy for me to follow my passion and has always encouraged me – this was yet another wonderful milestone.
What challenges have you faced in your creative work?
Jenny: Working with watercolors is challenging in itself, also finding the time to create all I desire; having a place to leave all my art materials to pick up where I left off the day before is a dream. Generally, the most difficult challenge is getting my work known, and out there so it sells.
What are you inspired by? Where do you go for inspiration?
Jenny: Ever since I have been in Florida I have been inspired by the different fauna and flora around me; palm tree debris; the amazing flowers, grasses, and tropical bush. Just walking in my neighborhood at any time of the year is an exciting discovery of flowers. Also, visiting the botanical gardens and State Parks give me unending inspiration. I love being by the sea with its ever-changing colors and moods. It reminds me when, as a child I would spend weekends sailing with my father and brother.
It brings back those halcyon days on the water.
What are some of the artists that you admire?
Jenny: Having spent most of my life in the UK, European artists have been a heavy influence; W.J. Turner, Monét and some lesser well know UK artists still alive; Kurt Jackson, Rose Hilton, and Jessica Zoob.
When it comes to being an artist, do you feel that being self-taught is an advantage or a disadvantage?
Jenny: I’m not afraid to say I am self-taught. I guess I was a free spirit as a child and don’t like being told this is the way I should do it – I’d rather explore, learn on my own and use the techniques that I work best with to create my own style.
Do you ever wish you had professional training?
Jenny: Sometimes I do but only to learn other art forms like sculpture or ceramics, again it would be a time issue and if I had a creative block these would be something I’d take up.
I have stuck rigidly to the challenge of watercolors, they are unpredictable with always something new to learn.
What advice would you give to other self-taught artists?
Jenny: To enjoy what they are doing and not feel inferior to those with many initials after their names. Listen to your heart and follow your passion and you will develop your own unique style which doesn’t have to be through years of structured teaching and someone else imposing their ideas. Practicing a few techniques on your own is key.
How can people follow your news?
Jenny: I produce a monthly newsletter, usually before we have a 2nd Saturday ArtWalk when tourists visit our studios in the Warehouse Arts District in St Petersburg. However, since Covid-19, it will be a while before we can do that again. I am still producing my monthly newsletter and if anyone wanted to receive it they can email me email@example.com.
I also have a website with information and contact details: