When I first met Jodi, two things stood out. The first was her energy and her drive. It seems she was doing a hundred things all at once – teaching, creating art, publishing a book, writing blog articles. The second – and perhaps more significant – was her demeanor. To quote a song by REM, Jodi is a “shiny, happy person.” Her confidence and joy exude from every pore of her being.
That joy reflects in her art. Whether she is painting whimsical houses, joyful birds, or practicing her Zen painting style, there is a positivity and playfulness that is very evident.
In 2006 Jodi dealt with a significant life event when she rediscovered her love of art and creating. Although it was always something she enjoyed, her passion lay dormant before breaking free and changing the course she was on. Jodi had an epiphany. She would be a professional artist. Jodi wasn’t quite sure how she would pull it off, but there was no going back.
Although still making a living in the corporate world of finance, Jodi began to paint. She started to art journal. Jodi created collages. She launched a blog and began writing for mixed media magazines. She began to teach.
“We Can Only Go Up From Here”
In fact, teaching is a considerable part of her career as an artist. Jodi developed a variety of online classes and releases one or two new courses each year. Ten months out of the year, she travels the country holding in-person workshops or instructing students in her working studio in North Carolina.
Part of the reason Jodi enjoys teaching so much is that she feels she is making a positive difference. For example, she recalls a very sick, bed-ridden, and depressed student. This student found Jodi’s online classes and started doing mixed media art from her bed. The lessons turned things around, and, she says, “it saved my life!”
“She told me this story, in person, after taking a class from me at a retreat with tears in her eyes,” Jodi says. “That was one of the moments in my life that I am so grateful for because I knew then that what I was doing made a difference to someone. I never really felt that way in my retail or banking career, but almost weekly, I get messages from people that reinforce the fact I’m on a path with meaning and purpose.”
Her Style and “Zen Painting”
Jodi has had many emotional responses from both students and collectors, saying how her art makes them smile or feel connected to her art due to the subject matter or colors.
“There’s a piece of me and my life in every painting I create,” says Jodi. “in the sense I try to immerse my whole self into the painting, or at least my state of mind while working.”
On a larger scale, painting has turned Jodi’s life around. But this transformation is a result of minor, daily occurrences. “During some of my darkest times, I ‘painted my life happy’ through color and whimsical houses and characters. It all helped transform me and my life back to where I wanted to be emotionally and physically.”
“Sometimes what comes out is the opposite of what I’m feeling,” she continues. “For instance, in my Zen paintings, I may be anything but calm and centered while painting, but during the process, something else emerges.”
Jodi’s Zen painting process is one of the several genres she does stemming from a very tumultuous work time. She suffered from mental and physical exhaustion, was sick, weak, and not in good health overall. As a result, Jodi couldn’t go into her studio. Unfortunately, she had no choice but to work. Her art is her sole source of income.
“I started doing pencil and ink paintings on Ampersand Gessobord in my living room or in my bed as I was recovering, and I fell in love with the process,” Jodi explains. “It started soothing my soul and relaxing my taxed mind and body… so much so that I didn’t want to do anything else.”
As she started to recover, the color began to flow back into the paintings. Months later, Jodi began to teach her process to hundreds of students online and in-person and even created a DVD on her approach. “It’s another reminder that even at life’s low points, you can turn things around to something positive. Never give up; there’s always light after darkness.”
Jodi uses a neutral palette and mixes her colors with that neutral palette to ensure they blend and go together well. “Everything usually starts with one or more of the following: shades of gray and black, white, or Titan Buff, along with Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold, and Payne’s gray,” she explains. “When you mix your colors together with those basic neutrals, you are almost always guaranteed a winning combination.”
As to her overall approach, Jodi says, “I think that I really pay attention to the details, values, contrast, balance, and overall composition. I’m constantly learning and evolving, and I can see the evolution of my work grow as I grow.”
Jodi almost always finishes her work with a spray varnish in matte or satin. For her large pieces, she’ll use a brush-on varnish after a spray-on varnish. She rarely frames her work, leaving it to the customer to prepare it to their own liking.
Jodi has been using Ampersand panels for many years, starting primarily with Claybord and Gessobord. Artist Jeanne Rhea introduced Claybord to her. Jodi began using the Claybord in her “Texturize This” process. Most recently, Jodi has been using the Gessobord and Hardbord in her Zen painting and Abstract painting process.
Jodi is a strong supporter of Ampersand’s “bords.” “My favorite surface for my current work is the Ampersand Gessobord. I love how smooth and absorbent the surface is and how durable Ampersand makes it. The quality of the product is unmatched by any other brands that may have similar products. I love how my acrylic paintings mimic water media when used on the Gessobords.”
Favorite Words of Advice
As someone who is always looking to grow and push boundaries, Jodi embodies her favorite piece of advice “Every no leads to a yes. If you don’t try or don’t ask, it’s always going to be a ‘no.’”
These words of wisdom have manifested into some fantastic opportunities, one of her proudest being the publication of her first book, Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink, published in December 2016.
Jodi adds her own two cents about art and the creative life. “If you want to be a full-time artist, you need to treat your work like a business because it is. You have to create a lot of work to get to your best work, and that is a never-ending process, which to me is an exciting part of the journey!”
Jodi Ohl is a mixed media artist, instructor, and author of “Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink.” You can find her work at www.jodiohl.com or connect on most social media sites under “Jodi Ohl.” Stay tuned for her upcoming online workshop, Zen Houses, a robust full-length workshop launching in September 2017.
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2017 Fall Back to School Sale!
The Fall Back-to-School sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and runs through the end of September. Gessobord, Claybord, Scratchbord, our Artist Panel Series (Primed Smooth, Canvas Texture and Unprimed Basswood) and more on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.