Artist Interviews 2021
By Laura Siebold
You have probably seen this type of ocean-themed artwork pop up in galleries, Farmer’s Markets and cute interior design shops across the U.S. recently. It is hard to pass by
without noticing the special glow of those glossy ocean-inspired resin art pieces.
Jen Brennan, based in Capistrano Beach, makes resin art pieces that are beautiful and useful at the same time. Having worked with various mediums like ceramics, wood, metal, graphite, pastels, oil paint, watercolor, ink, mural painting, trompe l'oeil since the start of her artistic career in 1984, the focus of her current art is on acrylic paint and resin art on wood panels and functional objects. For her abstract ocean-inspired resin art pieces, Jen uses mostly functional household objects like tables, food trays, serving boards, coasters, bottle openers, utensils, license plate frames, and ring dishes. We asked the artist to describe the process leading to the “layered” resin design:
“With my ocean themed art, I use a 2 part epoxy resin called Art Resin that I mix pigment into, and then paint multiple layers of the tinted resin on a surface. After 24 hours, I add another layer and so on until I get the look I want. Most pieces take about a week to create, depending on the amount of layers I use.”
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Jen moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1981. The family’s southward movement to Capistrano Beach, CA and her high school years spent in the beach community of San Clemente, CA were decisive factors in Brennan’s choice of an artistic career. She started painting holiday windows in San Clemente and pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from the University of California Irvine, graduating in 1991. After focusing on family life and teaching art in an educational setting in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1992, Brennan relocated back to Capistrano Beach in 2015. In her role as an art store manager, she continued to be inspired by art supplies, and tried out resin for the first time.
Inspired by the beach scenes close to her home, Brennan started selling her art in 2017. In her interview, she voiced her initial worries about “leaving my ‘day job’ as a store manager to become a full time artist”: “It was difficult to price my pieces, and I wasn't sure about the value of my work. Over time, that has gotten a little easier. My customers keep me inspired to continue to paint and sell.” In her collaboration with Warlock Woodcraft, Brennan focuses on creating larger artwork for private and corporate customers.
Picture: Jen Brennan with one of her larger pieces, a collaboration with Warlock Woodcraft
Brennan’s art used to be on display in Pacific Gallery Laguna Beach, however, the gallery gave up its physical location on March 1, 2021, and will continue to exclusively sell online; a development caused by the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, Brennan and other local artists have struggled with gallery closures, canceled events, and fewer tourists visiting the beach cities. While Brennan is grateful to have turned her dream of being a “working artist” into reality after a pandemic-related lay-off from her retail job, she hopes to find a future location in one of the nearby Orange County beach communities to showcase her work physically. Individual art pieces can be purchased on her website at the moment.
In the wake of the pandemic, Jen Brennan has welcomed the “therapeutic” effects of painting in her life and is constantly “looking for new ideas”. She continues to be inspired by the ocean, beach life, and her love for nature: “If I'm not in the water, I want to be painting it!”