Thursday, January 8, 2009

Artist: Jeannine Peregrine

The following feature was conducted and is now presented by the MC7C duo. Do Not copy+paste this elsewhere! Direct link to it!

Self-written bio

My name is Jeannine Peregrine (sounds like Janeen Pair-a-grin) and I am a mid-thirty-something Southern Californian transplanted in Suffolk married to a soon-to-be-retired U.S. Marine. We have no kiddies, just two kitties.

Two days a week I am a bookkeeper in Franklin, the rest of the time I'm a self-taught, mixed media collage artist, writer, blogger, and housewife.

My artwork has been published in national magazines and independent zines including Altered Couture and Somerset Studio, in the book 1,000 Artists' Journal Pages, the forthcoming book Exhibition 36, and exhibited in local art galleries.

I love reading, cookies, and old movies.


How long have you been creating? What got you started doing art?

I've always made things. I remember when I was a little girl, pulling a chair up in front of the TV and playing with scissors, paste, paper, and crayons. I always had art supplies - crayons, paper, paints, tape - and I loved coloring books, writing little stories, painting little pictures. We always had art class in grade school so I was exposed to all kinds of arts and crafts. When I got to high school, I didn't even consider taking art as an elective because I couldn't draw realistically (something that, sadly, many people think disqualifies them from being an artist). Art then became something I did as an afterthought. After high school, I got into rubber stamping and making greeting cards and eventually that evolved into collage, mixed media, and art journals all of which I've been doing for eight years.

Describe your work to someone who has never seen it before.

I create collages on paper, canvas, and occasionally fabric, using all kinds of media, including paints, colored pencils, oil pastels, pencil, tissue paper, and vintage papers. Focal points for my work are primarily copies of old photos from a lovingly tended collection of vintage photos I find on ebay and in antique stores. I love to work with old photos because the figures in them are always blank faced (from standing for long periods of time while waiting for the photographer to set up and take the picture). These blank faces allow me to project my own stories and context onto them. Most of my pieces feature individual, solitary figures. I love to combine the old photos and papers with simple drawings.

I would hate to pin down my "style" but I exist comfortably on both whimsical and introspective (darker) planes. I am not fond of cluttered collage so I aim for simplicity and understated in most of my collage work. When I create my collages, I've always got some kind of storyline running through my head as I work. I hope the viewer can catch a thread of that story without me having to whack them on the head with it.

I also keep a visual journal which is exactly what it sounds like - a journal with a focus on imagery and expression.

Lastly, I work with doll photography, specifically photographing a doll (made back in 1972 and reissued in the last decade) called Blythe.

What do you find visually stimulating right now? Any local artists that we need to keep an eye on?

Because I've moved around a lot in recent years, I've really depended on the internet to keep connected to art and artists. is a tremendous place for finding new art and artists and lots of inspiration and stimulation, as is As for local artists, because I live in Suffolk and am involved in the arts community here, I am most knowledgeable about the artists here including Sandy Lupton, Jill Tiderman, Brenda Wright, Nancy Kinzinger, and Angelia Armstrong. Interesting works can be found at Shooting Star Gallery and The Red Thread Studio, and the Suffolk Museum all located in historic downtown Suffolk. Erik Murray, who won the Suffolk Museum's juried show last year, paints huge canvases and murals – I don't think he's from Suffolk, but he has exhibited here – I love his mermaid paintings. You may already be familiar with the creative people at 7 Cities Crafters (formerly the Norfolk Craft Mafia). On (and at local shows), you'll find the talented crafters and artists of the Hampton Roads Artisans Street Team (HRAST).

What other artists or movements inform your work/aesthetics/sensibilities?

I am interested in and inspired by the work of Italian painter Amadeo Modigliani. His artwork is often overshadowed by the story of his short and scandalous life, but I'm not really interested in that. I am moved by his portraits which feature solitary figures staring straight ahead through the canvas, and minimal background. I like how his figures have exaggerated features such as long necks and large eyes. I also like the work of Gustav Klimt – his use of pattern and rich golden colors, not to mention the passionate subject matter. As for collage and mixed media, I am inspired by more contemporary artists such as Karenann Young; the older, collage work of Claudine Hellmuth (out of D.C.); Sarah Ahearn (of New York); Katie Kendrick (Pacific Northwest - Oregon, I think?); and the visual journals of Juliana Coles (of New Mexico).

If there were no financial limits whatsoever for you, what constraints would you most like to overstep? Are there other mediums you would explore?

If there were no financial limits, I would love to own my own gallery. I have lots of ideas and enjoy promoting and encouraging other artists, so running a gallery would be a dream come true. For my own artwork, I'd love to have a studio in the mountains or on a beach or a loft in a city, where I could spend time creating and experimenting with art supplies without feeling guilty because I don't have a "real" job. I'd love the opportunity to spend a summer at an artist's retreat or colony such as Yaddo (though with Yaddo, money isn't the object, but applying and being selected is). As for other mediums, I would love to do a really big installation piece! That would be so cool!

Did you grow up in Virginia? (If not, when / why did you move here?)

I am originally from Southern California. When I was 8, my family moved to Saudi Arabia where my Dad worked for an American company. I used to feel sad that I didn't stay in one place growing up, but now I am grateful to my parents that we got to live outside the U.S. and see different places, experience a different culture. When I was 13 we moved back to California where I lived until six years ago when my husband's job brought us to the east coast. We've lived in Virginia since late 2005 and we'd very much like to stay here, mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to move again (I hate packing and unpacking), but also because I genuinely like it here and have made really good friends.

Do you do gallery shows?

I've had a few pieces in galleries in Suffolk, but haven't participated in any shows this year. I hope to do more of that in Suffolk and elsewhere this coming year. Having my own show is definitely something I aspire to.

What is your current favorite creation?

I did this sailboat collage/illustration for Illustration Friday a few months ago. I am so pleased with it because I completely lost track of time while creating it and it features a mix of all the elements I like to use in my work (simple pencil drawing, favorite "found" papers for collage, distressed paint application).

How much do you think hype affects the public perception of what good art is?

Outside of art-centric circles, I think hype definitely affects public perception of what good art is. People are intimidated by art the way they are with poetry. Whether this is the fault of artists and poets themselves who like to feel superior, teachers, or high-brow art galleries, the general public has been made to feel stupid about art (and poetry). Hype spoon feeds people opinions about art – it takes the pressure off of the individual to state an opinion that might bring ridicule. This is sad. I also think, just generally, that our popular culture right now is very celebrity-focused and that applies to the arts as well. Human nature says people will be attracted to what's hyped - people are curious and want to know what the fuss is all about.

Last CD bought, downloaded or stole?

The last song I downloaded was L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. For some reason I had the song in my head (not sure how it got there) and I found it on itunes in a Martini Mix playlist. It is so retro and Nat has such a smooth voice. The last CD I downloaded was Firecracker by The Wailin' Jennys. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but I couldn't resist a band called The Wailin' Jennys.

Why do you think so many people spend money on music but don't buy much REAL art?

Price for one thing. Let's face it, you can buy a few songs on itunes for the change you have in your pocket. Art is usually going to cost more than that. Music is also portable - you can take it with you everywhere. Art, unless it is a utilitarian piece, is something static; you may look at it everyday, but you generally aren't carrying it around with you.

People look at the prices for original art, and balk. Also I think a lot of non-artist buyers don't understand the work that goes in to creating a piece of art (which is why I'm a big fan of open studios - people can see artists working, see what goes into it).

Pricing art is really hard for most artists I know. You have to charge what the piece is worth to you (time, materials, meaning) but at the same time, some artists price their work way outside what most people can reasonably afford. I was at an art museum in the country recently and some of the paintings (oils on massive canvases) were priced at $10,000. That just isn't realistic for most people. Maybe in New York? Every artist needs to strike a balance with their pricing. The general public, on the other hand, needs to understand the difference between something that is original, one-of-a-kind, and made by hand and something pumped out by a factory overseas. There is a distinct difference and we all should be willing to pay a little more for something special. This is why I love so much. There are so many handmade items (both fine art and utilitarian crafts) in price points to fit every budget. If you haven't seen, go check it out. You can still shop local - just search for artists in Hampton Roads (or specific cities).

How do you think the local scene is doing? How would you change it?

I'm not well versed in the local Norfolk art scene. I live in Suffolk and find the artistic community here full of diverse talent and tons of heart – they need people to make the drive and see what they have to offer. It's interesting to me how people in other areas of Hampton Roads perceive Suffolk - as if it is in the back of beyond. It's really not. It takes me 15 minutes to get from Northern Suffolk to Ghent. If I could change anything it would be to encourage people to foster a willingness to travel out here and see what we have to offer. Suffolk is a great balance of old (architecture, history) and new (art galleries, a cultural arts center, a sushi bar, a wood-fire pizza place, a coffee place). The more support we get, the more we can change and grow and modernize and have even more to offer.

Last Book you read?

I reread Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

What's your favorite local restaurant to eat at?

I eat at Java 149 in downtown Suffolk at least twice a week for lunch. They recently changed ownership and have redecorated - it's roomier and lighter but still retains it's funky, casualness. And the food is really good - salads, soups, wraps, coffee! They've kept the classic Java menu items and added a lot of new ones. I {heart} Java 149. And I {heart} supporting local, independent businesses.

Quote us your favorite song lyrics. (please include who it is by)

I'm no kid in a kid's game
I did what I did, I've got no one to blame
But I don't give up, no, I don't ever give up
It's all I've got, it's my claim to fame

I'm no fighter but I'm fighting
This whole world seems uninviting
But I don't give up, no, I don't ever give up
I fall down sometimes, sometimes I come back flying

From "I Don't Ever Give Up" by Patty Griffin

What's your worst habit?

I pick my cuticles. Sorry, gross. Seriously though, my hands are all torn up from all the paint and glue and from this cuticle thing. Sadly, this means I have no future as a hand model.

What irritates you?

Being from California and living in mostly hot climates my whole life, I still find dressing for colder weather a hassle. I don't like wearing a bulky coat in the car (with the heater running) but it's too cold to not wear a coat when leaving the car, so I'm constantly putting on and taking off my coat. Sometimes I just skip a coat altogether.

What has been your greatest success?

I don't know if I've had one great success. I've been fortunate to have a lot of neat experiences and I consider them collectively a success. I've traveled to places I never thought I'd see. I've met interesting people and had the chance to share my art and creativity with other people through publishing. I'm always profoundly humbled when someone purchases artwork I've created or leaves a note on my blog. I've been married for 13 years - I consider that a success.

What has been your greatest setback?

I wasted a big chunk of time waiting for other people to validate my path in life. I'm glad I got over that, but I wish I had gotten over it sooner.

The business side of being an artist: how do you market/promote yourself, and does it work? How do you cope?

I have a shop on where I sell my work. I promote my shop via the internet in venues such as flickr and twitter and in's community forums. I teach classes in Suffolk and Courtland and publish articles in art/craft magazines. Placing an ad on a prominent etsy-related site yielded my best financial results, but the ad was too expensive to maintain. I also have a blog, but I don't do a lot of promoting there. All of this collectively is how I promote myself. These strategies work fairly well ... my main problem is making new and more stuff. My creativity resists being treated like a manufacturing line - I need to find a way of working that is both productive and sensitive to my creative process. I am sure I could be more aggressive, but I also have limits as to what I'm willing to do in the name of promotion. I never want to become the equivalent of the annoying Mary Kay lady who talks shop all the time and constantly throws products at people.

Being a self-taught artist can often feel isolating. Sometimes I feel like my own cheerleader. I cope pretty well - I am good at encouraging myself, but, of course, I do get discouraged. I need to learn how to ask for encouragement from others. That's hard. It feels so ... whiny and needy. The best coping tool I have is just to keep on keeping on. If I'm feeling discouraged I just set everything aside for a bit. A little time away from art usually recharges my batteries and I'm ready to dive back in.

How would like to see the local artistic community change? Or how would you like to get involved in the local artistic community?

I'll just repeat what I mentioned above which is, I'd really love to see support for the Suffolk art scene from the other cities in the area. I'd also like to see all galleries in Hampton Roads include more abstract, mixed media, folk art, and outsider art (and artists) in their shows. For me personally, I really want to spend more time exploring the art scene in Norfolk and Virginia Beach (and elsewhere, locally). I'd love to help the local art community however I am needed - happy to teach classes, review a show in my blog, bake cookies - whatever is needed, just let me know!

What is your earliest art memory?

In second grade my school had a St. Patrick's Day poster contest and I drew a poster with leprechauns frolicking under a rainbow. All the leprechauns were drinking McDonald's Shamrock Shakes! My poster took second prize. I'm still pretty thrilled about this!

How would you like to be remembered as an artist?

I can't think of anything profound to say here. I don't really care if people remember me, personally, but I hope people who purchase my work are moved by it. I hope it speaks to them in some personal way, and makes them feel something.


Main Website:

Etsy Shop:

Trunkt Portfolio:

1 comment:

paintandink said...

I love Jeannine's work. Great interview!