RRAC Mentor Program: Meet Jerry Jorgenrud

Watercolor landscape painting

I want to introduce you to Jerry Jorgenrud.  Jerry is an artist and one of the mentors for this year’s mentorship program at The Rumriver Art Center.  Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to watch him paint, which you can see as well on the video below.  I was inspired by his use of color and how freely he laid out the watercolor paint. 

Budha 22″ x 30″ – 2020

When I asked Jerry when he knew he wanted to become an artist he stated he never thought it would be possible for him to be an artist because he was from a small town in Iowa.  From his elementary school experience, he got the impression art wasn’t very important as they stopped teaching it.  He met some new friends in 4th grade who liked drawing automobiles from their imagination and that encouraged him to keep on drawing too, even if it was not offered in school.   He enjoyed laying on his back and seeing the room upside down, he would draw it that way, he then moved outside and drew the world around him from this upside down view.  He got a kick out of it, he told me.  

After high school Jerry went to stay with his Uncle in New Jersey, who lived right across the Hudson from NYC. His uncle was a great inspiration as he would give Jerry art history books and encourage him to learn and create.   Jerry spent the summer exploring New York and came to understand that in the art world it seemed to be who you knew that got you places and not necessarily what you created.  

After that summer Jerry enlisted with the air force.  Upon returning from the Vietnam War, Jerry enrolled at MCAD, he told me his favorite class was color theory.  I can see this in his work, he is a master with color.  After Jerry finished at MCAD, life got busy and he created less and less.  He did keep reading about art and art history as he liked to keep up with what was going on in the art world. 

When asked who his favorite artist was he told me Winslow Homer.  Jerry explained that Homer changed watercolor forever as it was not a medium that anyone really used prior to Homer.  Jerry was inspired by his loose and readable paintings.  He liked how Homer was concerned with light and how it hit the surface of his paintings.  Homer created a new technique called wet on wet, which was inspired by the Japanese prints he saw.  Jerry mentioned that he liked how Homer didn’t join any society or hang out with other artists, he seemed to be a solitary man who was down to earth.  This could also describe Jerry.  

Burning 22′ x 33″ – 2020

Jerry also really liked the work  by J.M.W Turner.  He admired how he painted outside every day and his use of color.  Turner was the first who Jerry read about that started to talk about abstract art, which may have peaked Jerry’s attention in this movement. 

Jerry has explored many art mediums but watercolor is his preferred method of creating.  

I asked about his process leading up to a painting.  Jerry says it starts with a pencil sketch. Then he chooses his pallet where each painting calls for different colors though he limits his pallet to 6 colors.  He then gets his paper ready to go by stretching it on a piece of wood.  Jerry takes care to study his materials and understands how they can be used and pushed to get the look he is after.  Once he is prepared he then allows the magic to happen as he puts the paint on the paper. 

When asked about the new series of paintings he is working on Jerry told me he was inspired to pick up his brush again by being involved with The Rumriver Art Center.   His new series is about current events. 

 Jerry also told me that “People can’t give up and they have to have courage and move through lots of obstacles”. 

 I enjoyed getting to know Jerry’s creative story and techniques. 

Elders 22′ x 30″ – 2020

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