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Studio Space: Jenny Medved

The watercolor painter explores her Native American heritage with detailed portraits

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  • | 6:00 a.m. September 23, 2015
Jenny Medved has been a working artist in Sarasota for the last 15 years spreading her love of indigenous culture in her watercolors.
Jenny Medved has been a working artist in Sarasota for the last 15 years spreading her love of indigenous culture in her watercolors.
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Jenny Medved feels most at home in the wilderness. Growing up near Atlanta, she and her family used to camp in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Cherokee, N.C.

It was there that she learned of her Native American heritage and found inner peace and inspiration among the wildlife. 

After arriving in Sarasota in 2000 to attend the Ringling College of Art and Design, Medved wed her love of nature and indigenous cultures with her art.

"This is the first one of the series of Pacific Islanders. I like the feeling of community and the feeling of storytelling in their bodies. From the way they dance to the way they dress themselves."

Through her lifelike watercolor portraits, she tells the stories of Native American and other indigenous cultures around the world. Recently, she and 12 other SARTQ members moved their equipment out of their studios and into an exhibition space for a month-long residency at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, which runs from Sept. 26 through Oct. 31.

In preparation for the opening, Medved says she spends a minimum of five hours a day working on her pieces, which focus on Native Americans in the American West and Central Plains, as well as Hawaiian and Polynesian tribes.

Beginning with reference photos, Medved pencils the outline and form of the figures, then sets out to capture the ornate details of their ceremonial garb with watercolor.

"I get that a lot, that watercolor is easy. It’s about learning control and learning to work with the paint.”

“It’s a hard medium, and it’s kind of scary at times because you don’t know what’s going to happen next,” she says.

But for her, watercolor’s challenging nature is part of its appeal. A watercolorist must know what colors and tone each part of her final composition must have. There are no do-overs. Once the water spreads and absorbs into the paper, the artist can’t paint over it.

“I love it,” says Medved. “It starts very simple, and then I have to build it up. All those little details are the fun part.”

"I don’t use a lot of water. I like to use more of a dry paint. I put less water on my brush so I can control it better. But even now I’m trying to explore letting the water and the paint do its own thing."



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