By Jeffery L. Carey, Jr.
The paintings of artist Jenny Thornton kick off the new year of art exhibits at Flint’s Good Beans Cafe. Her solo show opened Jan. 4 to a gathering of more than 30 people, and will be on exhibit until the end of the month.
Born June 11, 1993 to parents David and Mitzi Thornton, Jenny Thornton grew up with her sister Kristin Ward in Linden. She says she spent a lot of time as a child in nature, playing in the woods, camping — all of which, she says, had a large influence on her artwork.
“I began making art as soon as I could hold a pencil,” Thornton says. “I started sketching cartoons and fashion design.” It was after she developed this love of drawing that she began painting. “I was inspired by shows I watched as a child and by my dad painting cars,” she adds. “I watched a lot of shows about painting vehicles, pin striping, flames, and all that kind of stuff.”
Thornton admits though that the artists who inspire her now are Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock and that her own art could best be described as mostly “impressionism with a splash of chaos.”
After high school Thornton moved to Flint where she stayed at the Flint Public Art Project house on Stone Street as an artist in residency that supports students, artists, designers, community leaders and teachers with free or affordable housing in order to allow residents time and space to pursue their crafts and to produce artistic projects in Flint. The residency was offered through state funding, she says.
“I was there for a couple of months over the summer,” Thornton says of the Flint Public Art Project house, “and I would say the most beneficial part of it was the people I met during that time.” She says as an artist it was a good place to grow her network, and establish relationships with motivated creative people. Currently, the self-taught artist is living in Swartz Creek, but is hoping to move back into Flint soon.
Thornton began showing her art at Flint’s Art Walk in 2017 and quickly became a regular at the Churchill’s Art Walk location. “Having my artwork up at Good Beans is really exciting,” she said. “It’s the first time I have set up for an extended amount of time like that. It is a pretty amazing feeling working really hard on a collection and seeing it all come together. When it is all hung together it definitely gives a proud feeling, just because there is so much time and effort into it.”
With her Good Beans show wrapping up at the end of the month, Thornton is looking forward to her next showing at Flint’s Greater Flint Arts Council (GFAC) where her work will be displayed in a members show.
“I plan to build my brand as an artist,” she says, “and continue learning, practicing and growing my skills.”
“I also intend to increase the amount of painting I do,” she states. “I love going to music events and painting while the band performs.” She also is inspired by nature and by emotions, both her own and other peoples’. “Growing up in Michigan you see some really beautiful scenery and skies,” Thornton says.
Using primarily acrylic paint, Thornton says her set up is the most important element of her work. “I create best when I have my station set up,” she stresses, “even if it means I’m set up in my back yard or painting at a live music event, I need my easel, brushes, and rags on my right side, box of paints on the left side and palette in my hand.”
She admits she loves making a mess. “There is something satisfying about having paint covered hands,” Thornton explains. “I own few things that do not have some sort of paint splatters or smears.”
As an artist, Thornton says she also is conscious of repurposing materials like poly board drive-through signs, table tops, old pieces of drywall, and old shelves. “The list goes on,” she says, “but a lot goes into the trash that can be painted on.” One example is her painting titled Cornucopia, which she explains was painted on a piece of plexiglass panel that the restaurant Potbellies was going to throw away.
“I spent so much time on Cornucopia,” she says. “It was a breakthrough piece for me.” While she is most proud of the Cornucopia painting, her favorite piece is titled Rolling Blue and is a vibrant painting of what she describes as a big blue mountain.
The paintings of Jenny Thornton as well as the jewelry she makes can be found on Instagram which includes images of her art and time lapse videos of her art in action.
“I was nervous–I will be honest about that,” Thornton confesses of her show at Good Beans. “However, I am pretty confident and stayed focused so my nerves didn’t get the best of me. I love making art,” she says, “and I cannot imagine a time that I am not painting.”
Good Beans Cafe, at 328 N. Grand Traverse St., is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information available at 810-237-GOOD.
Banner photo, Beacon, by Jenny Thornton at Good Beans Cafe. (Photo by Darlene Carey)
EVM Staff Writer Jeffery L. Carey, Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.