Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Slouha.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I have always enjoyed creating artwork. My earliest memory of this is creating massive drawings on long rolls of paper that I stretched out on the floor throughout the length of the dining room.
I think I was about five years old at that time. I remember spending a good portion of my childhood just drawing. I also remember getting really frustrated at a young age when I could not accurately draw what I saw.
I think that was one of my first real art goals, to draw a realistic representation of the world around me. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family so I used artwork as an escape. I dreamed of going to art school, but that was not an option for me.
I had to get a class B commercial driver’s license for driving a grain truck when I turned eighteen and then help my father with his custom harvesting business right after I graduated high school. After the harvest season was over, I looked for a paying job that I could focus on. I found work at a telemarketing company where I often trained new employees. I met Shane when the transmission went out in my car.
He owned and ran his own automotive repair shop in town. We were married after a couple of years of being engaged. When I found out I was pregnant, we decided to sell our house and move to Missouri. I chose to homeschool my son, so I devoted most of my time to this. My husband Shane, who is a disabled veteran, had to quit working as a mechanic due to his physical disabilities getting worse.
I had to find employment that allowed me to balance homeschooling, work, and taking care of the household so I cleaned houses because of the flexible hours. The artwork was far from my mind at this time. The Veterans Administration refused to help my husband medically or financially for what seemed like an eternity. When they finally did help him, I was able to quit my job cleaning houses and focus on my family. I was also able to carve out a little time for artwork.
We ended up moving from Missouri to Arizona and I started my first LLC business. My studio space was in a spare bedroom of our home and I painted river rocks to look like animals and did a lot of commissioned pieces. This was also when I got my first colored pencil automotive drawing commission. I fell in love with the process that I used to create the colored pencil drawing and I continued creating automotive artwork after that. We had purchased a home on the southwest side of Tucson and just settled in when we suffered a devastating house fire. We decided to move to Iowa, where my husband and I are both from originally.
I closed my LLC and focused on getting things in order. After a few years and a move back to central Missouri, I started my second LLC. This time it was Jennifer Slouha Fine Art. I mainly created artwork on paper and canvas and my work evolved from an illustrative style to hyperrealism. I continued homeschooling my son until he got into a private college. Once he was in college, I was able to spend more time on my artwork.
We now live in an area where we have access to several really great car shows and classic car dealerships. I use my own photos as references for my artwork and St Louis has several car dealerships that I have been to for these. Lake Ozark has the Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals Car Show and Hot Summer Nights monthly car cruises, both held on the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
As far as challenges go, I’ve had several. Trying to balance time for everything can be difficult. There is never enough time in a day to get everything that I need to get done finished. My studio space is in my home so staying focused on work rather than household chores takes discipline, and that is a constant struggle when you have ADHD.
I am a fairly introverted person so I really have to push myself to get my work out in front of people. I also have Tourette’s syndrome which is a neurological condition that I deal with without the use of medications. Tourette’s can cause uncontrollable repetitive motor tics like facial grimacing or other unusual movements and I tend to speak my mind a little too freely at times, both are pretty common with this disorder.
I am extremely self-conscious about these things and focus hard on not ticcing in front of people or saying the wrong thing, this often affects communication. In my experience, Tourette’s syndrome is a very misunderstood disorder and comes with many misconceptions.
Motor tics while drawing can be difficult too because I cannot always stop them and I have to take a short break from drawing when I have them so I don’t ruin my work.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I specialize in photorealistic automotive artwork and pet portraits, but I am not limited to drawing and painting only those subjects. My preferred mediums are acrylic paint, graphite pencil, and artist-grade colored pencils. I really love working with colored pencils because of the details that I can create in color.
Colored pencil artwork takes so much more time than other mediums, but I enjoy it because of the results that I get with it. It takes me anywhere from 30 – to 100 hours to complete an 8×10 inch colored pencil drawing. The time spent on each drawing depends on the amount of details.
I joined the Columbia Art League in Columbia, Missouri in 2013 and was invited to display my work in a solo exhibit at a local bank. I had a mix of different subjects and mediums of artwork on display for a length of time there. The right person saw my work at the bank exhibit and I was commissioned to create a large series of automotive drawings and paintings for the Missouri Auto Auction.
I think it was late 2018 when I received an unexpected call from one of the producers of the Travel Channel TV show called The Dead Files. They wanted me to be the sketch artist for an episode that they were filming in Jefferson City, Missouri the following year. I had to say yes to that because it was such a unique opportunity, even though I had an intense fear of public speaking. It was episode 4 “Not My Child” of Season 11. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous in my life, but it was interesting to see how that part of the show was filmed.
I think it was also in 2018 when the Jefferson City, Missouri Department of Conservation Runge Nature Center invited me for a solo art exhibit after seeing one of my colored pencil drawings. I created a large series of Missouri wildlife artwork mainly in graphite pencil and colored pencil just for this exhibit. Shortly before Covid hit, I was able to get my automotive artwork and giclee prints into Fast Lane Classic Cars right outside of St Louis and into the Kansas City Automotive Museum located in Olathe Kansas.
A couple of years ago, I donated several pet sketches for the Columbia Art League’s pet portrait fundraiser, and I ended up getting requests to create more pet portraits after the fundraiser was over. This led to the budget-friendly pet sketches that I now offer on a regular basis. I was invited to create colored pencil tutorials for two of Ann Kullberg’s publications.
One was for the “Draw Seasons in Colored Pencil book which is available on Amazon and the other was for the 2018 issue of Ann Kullberg’s COLOR Magazine and my art is on the cover. I have been teaching colored pencil art classes occasionally at the local art league and plan on creating more tutorials for different classes to teach in the future.
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Being an artist means taking risks every day. Putting my artwork out for the world to see is risky, especially when I put myself into my work.
It’s hard not to wonder if my work will be well received, and it may not be but I have to risk that. It’s a risk pricing my artwork, especially in an area where my type of work is not that common. It is a risk buying expensive archival art supplies when there is no guarantee that any of my artwork will sell.
I think it’s all worth it to follow my passion though. As an artist, I need to create artwork, so I must take risks. It’s just part of the job.
- I price my artwork by size and medium and list it on the commission page of my website. My 5×7 inch pet sketches are $35 each (1 subject per portrait).
- Commissioned graphite pencil artwork starts at $184 for an 8×10 inch drawing.
- Colored pencil commissioned artwork starts at $272 for an 8×10 inch drawing.
- Acrylic paintings start at $240 for 8×10 inches These are created on gallery-wrapped canvas. The prices go up as the size increases for all of my artwork.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.jenniferslouha.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/jslouha
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JSlouhaFineArt
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferSlouha