Featured Artist, Jen Schneck
Jenny Schneck is a surreal portrait artist and owner of the Bleu Palette Art Studio in Sycamore, Illinois. Her work has been described as “frightful, yet alluring" and “awesomely freaky.” Drawings of serene female subjects surrounded by chaotic environments dominate her art, with a focus on contrasting isolation, solitude, and peace with pandemonium. They can simultaneously illustrate our inner thoughts and the reality of the world around us.
She has been drawing for as long as she can remember, and her first creative influences were the Pre-Raphaelites, the Art Nouveau movement, and 1980s unicorns. Jenny’s female subjects are always based on real people and are often autobiographical.
Using pencils, ink, and watercolor, she plays with the contrasting themes of life and death and tells her visual stories using universal symbols. Her work invites the viewer to take a closer look, to search for the hidden messages of each piece found in clues to what the subject may be thinking.
When not found with a pencil in hand, Jenny spends her time at Bleu Palette, planning and teaching art lessons and workshops, reading romance novels, and loving the Midwest life with her husband and three daughters. Looking for a conversation starter should you meet her? Jenny is inspired by the faces of people she meets every day, fairy tales from her youth, and her morbid-yet-often-comical fear of birds.
Interview with Jen
Who is Jen Schneck?
I feel like I am someone who is constantly moving forward. For better or for worse. I find it difficult to stay still or not be running toward the next...something...even when I don't know what it is I am searching for. Curiosity I guess. I am always looking for the next thing to discover. I love teaching art. I want everyone to experience the joy and uplift from making art. Creating really teaches you who you are, or what you hope to become.
Where did your Art story begin?
My art story is as old as me. I can't remember not creating. The majority of my childhood memories were about making something. My dad was an art teacher, and my mom an artist herself, even though she does not refer to herself as one, she was always making something and a huge supporter of all things art. We did not have coloring books, but paper and pencils in constant supply. I was handed art materials of all kinds my whole life, "do something with this." I was not instructed WHAT to do, but allowed to safely be creative as I wished. It was so freeing and I was very lucky in that way. My dad had a ceramic studio in our basement, wheel, kiln, all of that. He would spend evenings and weekends in his studio listening to the Beatles or the Eagles and I would search for a spot with minimal clay dust, and draw. He never forced ceramics, he always encouraged us to make the art we felt we needed to.
What does Art mean to you?
Everything! To me it's everywhere and a driver for most of my decisions. It is a distractor too--always on my mind. Often keeps me from "important" things or focusing on the moment, because I am thinking about lines patterns colors I see. How I can incorporate them into a project or a lesson. It is communication where words fail us. It is history that is not diluted by words over time. It is our defining trait as human beings. It is our savior in sadness, grief, happiness. It is our voice to the world. Why is that limited to only a few people? That is a right for us all.
I create because…
I have to. The feeling of not creating is like trying to repress a sneeze. Too uncomfortable. I can't imagine a situation where I would not be trying to do something artistic.
My inspiration comes from…
People. Their emotions, especially the hidden ones. Faces I read all day long thinking "who are they? what are they thinking? what am I thinking about that I cannot speak but would like to say?"
How do your ideas formulate before you begin to physically create your work?
For me it does usually come as a spark. A fast brush fire. Something will trigger an idea, usually a small visual, that I will then place into a piece that amplifies that image and the story I want to tell about it.
How has art played a role in your life?
It has driven every decision! I have left jobs that were wonderful and lucrative because they did not involve art. I finally gave up searching for a non-art job! My soul just rebelled too much against it.
What has the Bleu Palette brought into your life?
Bleu Palette is the greatest gift I never knew I wanted. Work that does not feel like work. A true passion project. Watching others discover their creative voice, or even the awareness that they HAVE a creative voice, is even more exciting than creating something myself. It's like seeing your greatest belief brought to life. The feeling that I get in holding someone's hand or voicing encouragement as they cross over into the belief and knowledge that we can ALL make art, it is indescribable. Helping people find patience, hearing their own inner voice. Breaking through the barriers we constantly tell ourselves about why we are not artistic or capable? It is a powerful experience everyday and such a bigger thing than I ever thought a little public studio could do. Even if art is just a social tool in the moment, in my belief, is no less valuable. The health benefits people get from the socialization, the laughter, the uplift...it has brought a lot of joy and purpose to my life. It has forced me to be stronger in areas I needed help in too. I am pretty "shy" and quiet. I have to rise above that every day. There is no time for that. It carries into my life outside of Bleu. Keeps me working with others in mind, gets me outside of myself.
What is your “why” behind being an artist and then opening your studio?
At first it was about creating a job for myself, I couldn't find the right job so I created one. Now I see it is so much more, it's a purpose. A need I have to be helpful and motivating to others. To be the voice of encouragement and support that I was blessed with, and many are not. So many people have been told they are wrong or "they cant". Important people in their lives. It is hard to break through. But when we do? magical.
What were some standout points/people in your life that guided you here?
My parents, my parents, my parents....they are 100% the reason this studio exists. They gave me time to find my own way, and when I was lost? They brought me home! Cheesy I know, but all truth. The gratitude I feel daily is the driving emotion in this entire process.
Posted October 2020