My mother, Jodi Denike, grew up in rural Ovid, Michigan. She had a passion for drawing from a very young age. She followed her passion for art to Chicago where she went to the Art Institute of Chicago, though for not even a semester. She took art classes at Lansing Community College, although she unfortunately never was able to follow through on her passions. She ended up moving out west to Colorado where she met and married my father, and eventually ended up having three children--me and my younger twin brothers--and her art got put on the back burner. Later on she got her associates degree in graphic design and today she expresses herself through her current career. However, it is her ultimate dream (once us kids are all out of the house) to have an art room for herself to start drawing again.
The following interview is raw and real and honest. Italicized words within the answers are my own prompts and inputs.
How would you describe your work?
Realistic. Maybe a bit tense. Mechanical. The yearning to be more organic.
Is there “something” you are trying to express to your audience?
At the time I wasn’t thinking about my audience, I was thinking about me. I was still too young in my development as an artist. It was more what I wanted to express on paper than what I cared about anyone else getting out of it. It was my emotions and my desires that I was putting on the paper.
What made you stop?
Art school: I didn’t feel like I fit in. Everyone was trying to be too expressive and emotional and weird in my opinion. In my mind it was more about drawing and putting pictures on paper and pulling beautiful colors together. (You were solely in it for the art, not as some broken artist trying to prove something.) I loved art. I drew throughout my whole life up to that point.
Art in general: When I came back to Michigan I took art classes to continue my journey in hopes of being an art teacher, but I found I was interested in history and cultures, and then life . . . I followed my dream of going out West and with that, the dream of being an artist and doing art didn’t stop, but it kind of got pushed to the back burner. (Did Seventh-Day Adventism get in the way?) I wouldn’t say that, just life. I’d say getting married and having children. You were my focus at the time. When you guys were little, I volunteered at a private school that had no art classes and I taught art to them. (Did that fulfill a need within you to do art of any sort?) I think it brought back my love for it and something that I missed in my life. I don’t think it had ever gone away, it just got pushed to the back of my mind for a while. I think between doing the volunteer art classes and getting together with my best friend artist, that always kept it on my mind, not that far away.
Do you continue to do any of your artwork in your free time? Why not? Do you wish you could if you had the time?
Yes, but unfortunately it’s not for myself. It’s usually for other people. Creating something for them is a gift, is a token of friendship . . . just giving of myself. Would I like to? I’d love to get my hands on paper and pastels and really dig into some drawing again, but I feel like I don’t have the space. The space and the light, even the privacy for the intimacy that’s involved in it to be able to really be creative in that way that I’d like to. Someday when you guys are all gone that’s one of my dreams to be able to have that space.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Never a defining moment. For as long as I can remember, I remember loving coloring with crayons or drawing on paper, creating projects which I drew pictures. Just drawing, I loved it. That’s who I was. It kind of defined me. There was never really anything else. (Were you ever one to doodle in class?) Not on my homework, but on my notebooks, definitely. I’m torn between my left and right brain because I never wanted to mess up my papers, but I was always doodling. I think it’s interesting that I’m a graphic artist because I can remember doing designs, almost like font-type designs of my name back in grade school, and as I got older, in high school, I came up with class t-shirt designs. That’s the type of stuff I would doodle. I did a lot of word doodling, which goes hand in hand with what I do today.
Who’s your favorite painter and why? What do you love about their expression through their art?
Monet. I love that for him, it wasn’t about creating the perfect image, it was about capturing the moment, I love that he captured light and colors and how they worked together. Always changing.
Do you prefer a certain style over another? Why?
Yeah, and this is gonna relate to the previous question, but I very much like to use the impressionist style. That’s what I’ve really morphed into, which is interesting because when I first started drawing I was very much into realism. Capturing the images as close to perfection as possible. (What about its aesthetic nature do you find so appealing?) It’s not perfect, but it captures impressions/imprints of the moment. I think none of us are perfect, we’re all kind of messy in a way, which is some people might describe impressionism as something kind of messy, but it’s so beautiful when it’s complete.
Do you prefer a certain medium over another? Why?
I probably like pencil/charcoal/pastel. I think it’s a familiarity, the ease of use. The combination of precision with . . . I can make it messy, I can get my hands involved, I can be quick with it, but it’s precise, I can use it for whatever way I want it to lay on the paper.
What inspires you in your artwork? What things do you like to draw?
Nature the most. (Any particular reason?) It’s the most perfect composition. There are so many beautiful things in nature that are constantly changing that you can capture and I think I love that the most.
If you could have been guaranteed a job in an art career, would you have pursued it?
Yes. That is what I eventually did. I chose my career because it’s the closest to the art that I really wanted and I could make a living off of it.
As a graphic designer, how do you incorporate the art that you love into it?
I use lines and color to create a perfect balance and composition and that’s what makes me happy.
How much “guidance” are you giving when conveying this “something?”
I have to be very clear because my end result in what I do for a career is to help my clients sell themselves through their image that I’m creating for them. So I need to be as clear and precise as I can possibly be using color psychology . . . (Trying to avoid Escher-like images?) Yeah, definitely. Color psychology as well as hierarchy to lead my viewer to look at one particular thing first. I want their eyes to be drawn to that one particular design first.
I asked each question not knowing quite what to expect, but my mother surprised me with her eloquence in each of her answers. The following question and answer sums up interpretation of art in my mother’s own simplistic way, and there is a ring of finality to it, as though we finally have an answer that won’t leave us with a burning dissonance within us of what personal interpretation of art means.
If the audience interprets your work differently than you intended, do you feel you were not adequate in you expression?
Career: Yeah. The whole point of what I do is to help my clients sell themselves through my imaging. It’s very important that I succeed in portraying what I create in a way that is easy to understand or follow.
Personal art: No, not at all because I think art is different for everyone. We’re all trying to see something different. Everyone has and is going to have a different interpretation. Just like music lyrics, what one song may mean to one person could mean something entirely different to someone else. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means I’ve reached two different people in two different ways.