The Artfinder Blog

Jennifer Glover Riggs on how she uses experimentation and alternative processes in her paintings

We spoke with Connecticut-based artist, Jennifer Glover Riggs, to learn more about her striking paintings and the alternative processes she uses to create them. Jennifer's focus on energy, motion and contrast in her work establishes her as a standout among the Artfinder newbies.

Embracing methods of experimentation and risk taking, Jennifer uses unusual materials such as hammers to paint by impact, or feathers to move the paint across the canvas. In doing so, she is able to capture varying senses of energy and evoke emotional responses from the viewer.

Keep on reading for more about Jennifer's artistic process and how one can actually paint with a hammer!

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a series of layered paintings using acrylic paints and resin. First, I add a layer of acrylic paint, then a layer of resin, then another layer of paint, and so on. Some of the paintings have up to four layers of resin on them. I love this collection because the layers of resin provide an amazing amount of depth. I’m also experimenting with a couple of exciting new ideas and techniques that I hope to use in my next collection.

You do not use conventional means to create your works. Can you tell us about your process?

When I work, it’s just me and the painting - everything else fades away. I work quickly and intuitively, constantly adjusting and readjusting as I make each mark. I like for my paintings to have a lot of energy, motion and contrast, and I’ve found that using unconventional tools such as hammers and rubber mallets to paint with helps me capture this energy. These tools also create very unpredictable marks, so I constantly have to reevaluate the piece. This happens fluidly and intuitively as I paint. I often go through periods of “binge” painting where I’ll paint non-stop for several days in a row, followed by quieter periods where I’ll plan my next experiment and finish up my pieces with resin.

'Harmony' by Jennifer Glover Riggs, $145/£112/€133

Can you tell us a bit more about the role experimentation has in your artwork?

Experimentation is vital to my art. Before starting a new project, I spend days or weeks working on experimental panels to play with a new technique or idea that I have. This is a very important part of my process because it is through taking risks that new techniques are born. I'm not actually much of a risk-taker in my life, so being able to take risks in my art has been very liberating for me. The key for me during the experimental process is to stay open to all possibilities. Often, I’ll I begin experimenting with an idea that ends up not working out, but during the process I’ll discover something else that is new and exciting, and this begins the process all over again.

What is the difference between acrylic paint versus using encaustic paint in your work?

I started out experimenting with encaustic painting (melted beeswax) three years ago. I had been interested in it for years, but finally decided to take the plunge and teach myself how to do it. I bought books and supplies, and watched tons of YouTube videos. As I became more confident in my work, I decided to create an Instagram account to show my work. While browsing through artwork on Instagram, I stumbled onto fluid acrylic art and was blown away. In some ways, encaustic and fluid acrylic techniques are quite similar. Both media allow for a lot of motion and flow. I decided to give fluid painting a try and just fell in love with it. I’ve actually come full circle a little bit, because the new layered series that I’m working on reminds me quite a bit of working with encaustic. I also hope to get back to encaustic painting a bit again this summer.

Jennifer at work

As you rely a lot on flow and movement, at what point do you decide that a painting has been completed?

When I first started working with encaustic and fluid acrylics, it was really hard for me to know when a painting was finished. I've got about 100 muddy messes to prove it. I can't tell you how many times I’ve made a deal with myself to add just one more mark, only to end up with a mess. It's become more intuitive for me now to know when a painting is done. I often get butterflies in my stomach and a rush of excitement as I get close to finishing a painting. I've realized that once that feeling starts, it's time to stop. Sometimes this feeling is very strong, and I’m sure the painting is done. Other times, I will put the painting aside to look at again another day.

What inspires the artwork you create?

I love for my paintings to have a lot of energy and motion in them. I want my paintings to feel alive, and for you to feel that energy when you look at them. Sometimes the energy is calm and mellow, like in my painting "Harmony". Sometimes it’s a disturbing, chaotic energy like in "Butterfly Fight Club". When I paint, I hope to evoke an emotional connection and response from the viewer. That response doesn’t have to necessarily be a positive one. A couple of my paintings kind of freak me out, because they have a lot of tension and disturbing energy about them. I’d like it if the viewer loved my work, but I’m ok with them hating it too, as long as they think or feel something when they look at it.

'Butterfly Fight Club' by Jennifer Glover Riggs, $495/£384/€454

How has your experience selling online been so far?

Selling online has been challenging for me. There are so many artists on the online galleries, that it can be difficult to have your artwork seen by customers. Artfinder is unique in that they really take the time to reach out to artists and get to know them. Their staff is super friendly and helpful, and they really want to help you succeed. I see selling online as a long game that requires patience and persistence, and I thank Artfinder for providing the opportunity to showcase and sell my work.

What’s next for you?

I'm looking forward to being part of several local art shows this summer. I've also got a couple of new ideas percolating that I'm really excited about. Other than that, I have no idea! I’m excited to see what comes next in this art journey!

'Portal to Another Realm' by Jennifer Glover Riggs, $125/£96/€114

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