“My art is about my identity as someone who is connected to life, to growing things, to the dirt”
Jennifer Mohr paints the colourful images she lifts from her imagination in a space that is both her studio and the family room.
Assorted canvases, along with the tools of her craft, stand in contrast to the familial comforts of life in her Airdrie home.
“I’ve always been in love with art. It’s just a part of who I am.”
She is an emerging artist with a busy Etsy store, but this wasn’t always Mohr’s life.
“I finished my fine arts degree in 2002, and thought maybe I could be a working artist, but then I just kind of joined the real world,” she laughs.
Born in Saskatchewan, she and her spouse moved to Calgary shortly after university, and then to Airdrie 14 years ago.
“We bought a house, we had bills to pay, I got a job, we had two children – we hunkered down.”
As she settled into daily routines, canvas and brush took a back seat.
“All those years I kind of thought, ‘There’s lots of reasons to not make art. It doesn’t make money, it’s not practical, and I don’t have time…’”
However, three years ago, Mohr explains, she and her spouse embarked on a major life change.
“My partner transitioned from male to female. It was a huge thing for our family.”
The transition was something the couple had planned for several years, and when they began the process it was done as a family, with support from both of their parents, extended family, and close friends.
“Without their support, it would have been very difficult,” she says with emotion.
Despite this, Mohr faced an unexpected challenge.
“I went through this time where my kids were going back to school, my spouse was transitioning, and I really felt this loss of identity,” she explains. “I needed to do something for myself.”
She bought a few art supplies, and began painting everything from pet portraits to flowers.
During her spouse’s transition, art allowed Mohr to put her feet “firmly on the ground and say, ‘This is who I am; I’m good at this.’”
Mohr says she has always had an affinity with living things, something she attributes to her childhood experiences on the family farm in Saskatchewan.
Her mother enrolled her in art classes at the age of nine where she learned to blend the technical side of painting with her impressions of the prairie landscape.
The younger of two sisters, Mohr spent many hours wandering the farm alone.
She would often make a circuit around the yard: from the large spruce tree where her hamster was buried, to where old farm equipment was kept, to where she would sit in tall grass and braid a circle around herself.
“As a child, these were my magical places.”
This is why, she explains, her art “is expressionism that is about place, about feeling a connection to the earth, and where your feet are planted on the ground.”
This theme flows throughout Mohr’s collection.
Her main subjects, landscapes and botanicals, are in an impressionistic style, boldly captured in ink, watercolour, acrylic and gouache.
From small to very large, her canvases are alive with a broad palette of colour and nature-like randomness, which evoke a sense of fun and innocence.
“My art is about my identity as someone who is connected to life, to growing things, to the dirt.”
Her plans for the next few years are to “work, work, work,” and to find gallery representation.
“I’ve stepped into a transition of my own, where I’m really learning about my own identity.”
“I love it. I’m so happy I decided to do it.”