Q&A with Jordan Connelly Studio

Editor’s Note: This post is sponsored as I received a complimentary commissioned painting from Jordan Connelly Studio after I reached out to Jordan proposing a collaboration in which I would share her artwork on my blog and social media channels. All editorial and opinions (with the exception of Jordan’s answers, of course) are my own.

The soft pastel colors and rich brush strokes of Jordan Connelly‘s paintings reeled me in like a fish to a line from the moment I discovered her sublime talent on Instagram. For the past 12 years, Jordan has channeled her appreciation for raw coastal beauty to help hone her distinctive impressionistic style. Jordan offers landscapes as well as commissions featuring weddings, families and children. I’m so excited to share a range of Jordan’s talent today including the custom commission she recently did of our son toddling about on Drakes Island last year in Maine.

Jordan did such a beautiful job painting our baby on the beach. She fully captured W’s essence and whenever I look at the painting, it makes me want to cry happy tears because it takes me right back in time to when W was learning to walk.

I sent Jordan this photo that Brea McDonald so beautifully captured last year from our family session on the Maine coast and asked if she could brighten the landscape a bit. We had our photos taken in early spring and New England was still hanging tightly on to winter so the colors weren’t quite as cheerful as Jordan’s signature colors. While I absolutely love our photos that we took in Maine, I wanted the painting to reflect Jordan’s distinctive style that I had fallen in love with so I asked her to incorporate some lighter colors that she typically uses in her marsh scenes. I also sent her a current photo of W’s crazy beautiful curls that have leapt to life in the past year and asked her to include those because I just love them to bits.

I also want to share my husband’s reaction when he saw this painting in person. I kept it a surprise and when he came home from work one night, I brought it out to show him. He looked up and got the widest eyes and just stared at it for a few seconds, taking it all in, and finally let out a “WOW!” And that pretty much sums up how we feel about this painting. I realize that to anyone else, the little boy in this painting may just look like a little boy but to me and my husband, we instantly KNEW that was our W. Jordan so perfectly captured W’s energy and movements that I feel like the little boy in the painting could turn around at any moment and W would be smiling his great big cheesy smile at me.

I decided to hang the painting in a little nook in W’s playroom (you might notice the bench from our formal dining room – we recently chose to convert that room into a playroom and so far it’s been a great decision). I love how the energy and colors of the painting so harmoniously complement the other aspects of the room.

Now that I’ve shared my personal experience with Jordan and her artwork, I’d like to share an exclusive Q&A to give you a deeper sense of Jordan’s work and inspirations:

Q. First, I’d love to know how you got into art? Has painting always been a passion or is it something that evolved over time? 

A. My parents love collecting fine art. My childhood home is full of antiques and paintings. My brother and I grew up going to the art gallery with them, and the owner would give us spare mat board and colored pencils to play with while they shopped. This was my first real exposure to creating art. My Grandmother was an artist by hobby, and her artwork was also in our home. She loved painting Asian figures, inspired by the numerous antique Japanese Imari vases and plates that she collected. They were gorgeous, and I used to try and replicate them when I was little. Unfortunately, she was ill and died when my mom was young so I never met her. My mom passed down her watercolors, oil pastels, and pencils to me. I still use them today and they mean the world to me. They are in their original tin box in my studio. I continued my passion for art and majored in Biology and Studio Art at the College of Charleston. I have not stopped painting since.

Q. Your style is so uniquely beautiful. How did you cultivate your distinct painting style? 

A. I used to paint realism. If you saw some of my old works, you would have no idea they were mine. I enjoyed the challenge of realism, but I much prefer impressionism. I love how I can add drama, joy, and any emotion in my work now more so than when I was painting realism. My work is now ironically more realistic to me than when it looked like a photograph. I’m constantly inspired by my historical favorites, my contemporary favorites, and different color palettes. I draw from what is available in nature, what nature makes me feel, and colors that bring me joy. It’s a tough balance painting what you think you should be painting and what your soul pushes you to paint. I am trying hard to simply paint what makes me happy, even if it feels risky. I try to bring freedom in my brush strokes instead of obligation. Once I understood what it meant to own my artistic license, I really started honing my distinctive style. While I have found my groove so to speak, I am constantly studying, learning, growing, and evolving. 

Q. Are there any historic (or current) artists whom you draw inspiration from?

A. I have many favorites, but I am always inspired by Monet, Manet, Sorolla, De Kooning, Cezanne, and Boudin. 

Q. I know you offer gorgeous landscapes and also do custom commissions featuring weddings, families and children. Do you have a favorite subject and/or landscape to paint?   

A. I am the most at peace when I’m on or by the water. I adore painting marshes, oceans, beaches, and coastal scenes. I’m from North Carolina which spurred my interest in the intracoastal waterway and coastal Carolina. Attending College of Charleston easily made me fall in love with the historic homes and churches, and the low country landscapes. These scenes could fill my paint palettes forever.  

Q. I’m curious where you prefer to paint – in a studio or en plein air?

A. I have always been challenged to paint en plein air, which means painting outdoors. In college my professors would discuss the stark differences that come with painting outside of the studio, and, of course, many of the classic artists that we all know painted this way. I adore painting en plein air, but I do get a little shy painting in front of people. Painting is such an intimate thing and sharing it begs for vulnerability. I find I can be freer with my work when it is just me, my music, and my subject. The stages of a painting can be so interesting. If you looked at my work mid-painting, I guarantee you would have no idea what direction it was going, and it can appear quite odd. It’s amazing how a piece evolves, and how every stroke can completely transform the painting. It is those mid steps that are difficult to share. If I was totally by myself, I’d prefer en plein air. 

Q. Obviously, being a wedding blogger, I love that you paint wedding scenes. What inspired you to go in that direction? 

A. I love making people happy. Capturing memories and moments is such a fun way to do that. It is the greatest gift to me to create special paintings for clients. I spend a great deal of time asking specific questions and studying the scenes so that I can get it right. I never thought it was something I could do until a friend commissioned a painting of her wedding day. I am so quick to thank every client for allowing me to create a piece for them. I always mention how great of an honor it is, and I mean that with my whole heart. It is such a huge privilege to share my work. It only took one piece, and now it is one of my favorite things to do. 

Q. Do you dabble in different mediums?

A. I originally painted in oil, and then when I got pregnant with my daughter, Hadley, I switched to acrylic. I haven’t turned back since. I like how you have to make quick decisions and adapt to the painting with acrylic. I may set out to do one thing, and end up taking it in a completely different direction. When I painted with oils, it was more calculated and forgiving. I have started to incorporate oil pastels and pencil into some of my paintings.

Q. Where would you say your artistic influences come from?

A. I draw my inspiration from anything and everything, and I try to save different images when they speak to me. They could be anything from the patterns, colors, and scenes found in nature, the market, interior design, old artists, new artists, fabric, or really anything. If it brings me joy, I try to use it in my work somehow. Largely, I am most influenced by nature. 

Q. Last question. Since you’re a mom of two little ones, do you have any tips for balancing mom life with a creative career?

A. My life is nothing short of insane. I’m a mom to two amazing babies, Hadley and Charlie. I’m an Emergency Room nurse and am obtaining my Doctorate to become a Nurse Practitioner. I have an incredible husband who is a firefighter paramedic, and I run a full-time art business because it brings me so much joy. Being a mom has given me more inspiration and joy than anything, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s tough feeling like you’re not your best at everything anymore because there simply isn’t time to be. I have learned that trying my hardest to give my whole heart to my kids while doing the things I love to the best of my ability is definitely good enough. Some days I’m reading to Hadley while carrying Charlie in a Baby Bjorn while holding a paint brush. I save intentional time each day for each of them, and this helps me feel more comfortable with being pulled in different directions. While this balance is extremely difficult at times, I know it is good for them to see me help people, to be creative, to run a business, and to be happy.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Jordan! It was such a pleasure getting to know you and to learn more about your style and method. You can find more of Jordan’s inspiring work at Jordan Connelly Studio and on her Instagram page.

Photography Credits:
2-4 & 11: Sarah Darcy of Classic Bride blog
All other imagery provided by Jordan Connelly:
1&10: Pearce Connelly; 5-9: Jordan Connelly