Raleigh-based artist Jen Matthews knew who her influences were from an early age – Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Frank Stella and her father. Most people wouldn’t have known that her father, who served as the chief of police in Jen’s hometown, was also a gifted photographer, artist, and master woodworker. His talents combined with the brightly colored prints in the 80s clothing store her mother owned, were the defining influences on Jen’s early art.
What began as puffy painted apparel and wild murals in her room turned into a lifelong journey for Jen, whose work is still defined by the bold, non-symmetrical, playful style of the 80s. One look at the bright colors in her work can take Jen’s audience right back to the Lisa Frank binders of their youth. While she doesn’t shy away from fun and funky styles, Jen’s work is anything but haphazard. Her canvases often start with big, loose strokes and Jen loves the process of tightening her lines and bringing detail to her pieces as they progress. You will find a mix of abstract and graphic styles in many of her paintings.
Jen's studio is filled with handmade paper, thread, scraps, spray paint, and pieces of art her children have created. You will find jars of brushes, sponges, squeegees and spatulas. One of the most unexpected materials Jen uses is sticks from her yard that have been carved by her children — the perfect tool for mark making.
Like many creatives, Jen’s work as an artist also serves as an escape and form of relaxation. The Director of Design at a creative agency, mother of two, and wife, Jen retreats to her home studio for her mental health and because of the joy she finds in creating art for others. She hopes her work reminds viewers not to take things too seriously.
Jen took her art to the next level in 2020 when COVID forced her to spend more time at home and she was able to focus on creating with less distractions. This time at home allowed Jen to work side-by-side with her daughter Laney, a gifted painter who has been creating since before she could walk. Laney’s portraits of dogs are in high demand and the opportunity to create together with her daughter reminds Jen of the days she was sketching alongside her father.
You can see Jen’s work on select episodes of HGTV’s Bargain Mansions and find some of her floral prints at Artfully Walls. She is available for commissions and would love to create something special for you.
Charlotte Russell Contemporary, Raleigh, NC // Gallery 1401, Chattanooga, TN // Dress the Room, Charleston, SC // Art House, Charlotte, NC