Art has been a lifetime passion for Jenna Alexander. “Art has brought me immense joy my entire life,” she says. “It’s important for me to always find time to create; it balances and centers me.” This passion led her to Maryville College in Tennessee to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. Soon, she met Za, her future husband (a local St. Augustinian) and married, found out she was pregnant, and opened her business all in rapid succession in 2013.
As an artist, Jenna discovered she could combine her linear strength for deadline-based, focused projects with her creativity by creating series of works with specific goals in mind. Her latest of these projects is called “Stripes & Buns.” The inspiration for this project came when her family took a road trip up to Maine last summer. “Somewhere along the way, in the long car rides, a vision came to me,” she says. “I sat on it for over six months, sketching, journaling, and planning.”
For this series, she photographed over 230 women at her uptown studio all wearing stripes (mandatory) and buns (optional). From these photographs, Jenna painted playful illustrations of 16 women and created 29 oil paintings on canvas.
Jenna’s other works and projects have had similar moments of inspiration. Last year, her series was based on oysters that Za had collected for their family and neighbors to enjoy over a roast. “The oysters struck me a certain way, and I decided at one of the roasts to base an entire series on them,” says Jenna. “My neighbor even chimed in saying I should call it “Salt Run Series” because that’s where Za got the oysters.
And then there is “Naptime Botanicals” which came about during her first-born child’s naps. “I was craving to create, but time was limited with a baby,” she says. “During one of Jensen’s naps, I sat down with chalk pastels and created a Florida orange. Since then, I’ve made more than 20 botanicals – all inspired by my quiet time when the baby’s sleeping.”
Finally, her first series, “Even Me,” started after a trip to Tanzania where she painted the children she taught in an orphanage. The dozen portraits from this series are now on display at the Lincolnville Museum.
Jenna lives by the Annie Dillard quote, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” For her, this means finding the perfect balance between her business and her family. “It’s very important to me that my kids Jensen (4) and Navy (2) know they come first,” she says. “When we’re inside, we’re mostly painting. Our kitchen table is covered in paint, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I frame the kids work on the walls, so they know their work has value and needs to be seen.”
Jenna has received overwhelming support from the community of St. Augustine. “Support comes in many ways, and this town has it down.” For Jenna, the greatest reward of her art is making her clients happy. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” she says, “to have someone excited, happy, and inspired about something that came from my hand. It makes me feel like I’m on my right path, and that is my dream come true.”