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Art Begets Art, Disney Style

Last Week I was able to experience Magic, Disney Magic!
For years my good friend and top Disney Travel Agent, Jill, has been telling me about the brilliance of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. It took a couple of years, but I finally was able to accompany Jill (kid free! yay!) to Disney.

There are so many art related interactive activities, exhibits, booths, and fabulous culinary treats. What struck me the most was how much art begets art.

When Disney creates a movie that encompasses memorable characters and interesting locations, it leads to creative paraphernalia (t-shirts, stuffed animals, beach towels) and eventually attractions! The attractions are meticulously designed and crafted with the most amazing attention to detail, bringing those beloved movies to life. The artistry of the movie begets the artistic vision, creativity, and ingenuity of the items that come after.

The most recent Disney visitor (or “guests” as Disney likes to call them) trend taps into personal creativity as guests like to create custom t-shirts or costumes (typically matching each theme park they visit). Some of the creative favorites I saw were t-shirts that said “Most Expensive Day Ever,” “I’m Done Adulting Let’s Go to Disney,” and “Princess Security” (worn by a dad of a toddler dressed as a princess).

As art begets art, The Epcot International Festival of the Arts begets art inspired by the greats. Below is just some examples of different ways the guests interacted with and created their own art.

  1. Become Part of a Masterpiece – each guest was invited to go pose inside a life-sized model of a classic painting. As you walk from country to country in Epcot’s World Showcase the masterpiece reflects the artist origins. For example, you could become Frida Kahlo in Mexico or become the goddess in Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” in Italy.

2. 3D Chalk Artists – watch artists at work creating gorgeous pieces of art, some Disney themed, some copies of Impressionists – all in CHALK. All that hard work was washed away when a big rain came through. YIKES.

3. Contribute to a Painting – Each day, guests were handed a color and number and asked to fill in 6 squares. By the end of the day the painting was complete (see image underneath for the days progress)!! Talk about team work!

4. Culinary Arts – Disney is excellent at taking a theme and some food ingredients and running with it. Best of all, I got to indulge.

5. Artist Watching – throughout Epcot different artists set up tents for guests to view and purchase their work. Most art was Disney affiliated, but some were independent artists that had a whimsical, fun touch.

And yes, I did stop for my beloved French Macarons in France!

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts takes place every January – February for about 6 weeks. So, if you are planning a trip to Disney during that time, you don’t want to miss it. If you are looking to plan a trip to Disney, contact my friend Jill, she is a certified Disney planner, it is her passion and Disney is her happy place (she is paid by Disney, so her services are free to you).

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8 Years Ago Today, My Life Changed Forever

fullsizeoutput_45bc8 years ago today, my life changed forever and all for the better.  My daughter was born and I transformed from Jennifer to “Mom.”

If it had not been for her birth, I am not sure I would have ever decided to quit my corporate job and become an artist.
For all the times, over the past 8 years, I got frustrated for my lack of “me” time and painting time because of her needs (and later her brothers), she was actually teaching me an even more valuable lesson that I now apply to my art – GRIT.

Too tired to get up and feed a baby? As a mom, you do it anyway.
Don’t have the stamina to run to the grocery store one more time?   You muster up the energy and do it anyway.
Might pull out your hair if you do one more load of laundry?  Too bad!  The formula stains don’t clean themselves, do it anyway.
Covered in vomit?  Ha!  Change your clothes and keep going through your day anyway.
Have the flu?  Too bad, there are no sick days for moms.

Prior to my daughters birth, I painted when the mood stuck and inspiration was lit, as I had all the time in the world.  It  seems counterintuitive to create, despite not being in a creative mood, right?  What if you ruin your masterpiece because you are not in the correct headspace to paint?

Today, I have learned to paint anyway, because I don’t have all the time in the world.   And 9 times out of 10, I muster up the stamina and make great process.  Consistent practice really does make a difference.  I grit through no inspiration, not feeling well, or other life items, and know that I have short windows where I can work and paint.

Of course my daughter has taught me so many more invaluable lessons, besides grit.   Unconditional love, compassion, nurturing, etc. all have expanded my heart over the past amazing 8 years.  For all the stressful moments where I question juggling of my art career and my life as a mom, it was all made right when my daughter turned to me a month ago and said, “I love that my mom is an artist.  It is so fun.”

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!




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With a Little Help from My Food Bloggers

fullsizerenderThis weekend has been a whirlwind with the opening of my ‘Capital Palette’ exhibition at The Mansion at Strathmore!  However, I would be remiss without thanking and giving a gigantic shout-out to the people who gave me the impetus  to comb DC looking for delicious inspiration – my fabulous team of food bloggers!

I admit that I occasionally get stuck in my little suburban circle and don’t venture far to eat or find something new.  By talking to these hip, in-the-know, DC foodies they pushed me beyond my suburban doldrums and I got to explore and experience a wide array of DC’s amazing food.  So, thank you to Maura Judkis, Laura Hayes, Nevin Martell, Jennie Kuperstein, and Alix Gilman!!

To cap it all off, not only did these amazing food bloggers help me find my painting subjects but they also wrote posts as to why each of my showcase pieces for ‘Capital Palette’ is significant to the DC food scene.  I learned so much about each of my subjects from them, so be sure to read each witty and interesting posts next to my paintings.  You too will learn something.

Each food blogger is amazingly talented and well respected and I want to take this opportunity to share a bit about each of them.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Washington Post. She has also written for U.S. News & World Report,, ARTnews, the Washington City Paper and the Onion A.V. Club.

Nevin Martell is a D.C.-based food, travel, and lifestyle writer who has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Saveur, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, and Runner’s World, and has authored seven books. He is currently co-authoring the Red Truck Bakery cookbook, which will be published by Clarkson & Potter in spring 2018.

Laura Hayes is the food editor of Washington City Paper where she is also the Young & Hungry columnist. Laura has bene covering dining in D.C. for four years. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @LauraHayesDC.

Alix Gilman, 1/2 of the couple behind the blog, In a DC Minute, is a former English teacher and full time writer and photographer. When she is not traveling to DC from her farm in Western New York, she can be found eating guacamole, drinking fine wine, and spending time with her fiancé, Scott, and rescue dog, Ivan.

Jennie Kuperstein is a founding partner of Stand Out Public Relations, a PR and Communications firm specializing in hospitality and lifestyle PR

The biggest thank you goes out to my husband, Matthew, who has been my rock and business partner from the beginning. I could not have completed this exhibition without his unyielding support.
The biggest thank you goes out to my husband, Matthew, who has been my rock and business partner from the beginning. I could not have completed this exhibition without his unyielding support.


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Strathmore October Status Update

I am sure you have heard by now, as I have been shouting from the roof-tops…I made my revised goal and I could not be happier.
Painting has ceased and I am now focused on all the logistics.   The logistics might be harder then the painting phase.  With painting, it is my therapy, it is my zen.  With logistics, there is lots of computer time and running around town.

So, lets run down my initial checklist:

1.  Concept:  CHECK!  DC + Cuisine Rocks!

2.  Measure Space:  CHECK!

3.  Specific Painting Ideas:  Thanks to DC’s finest food bloggers and your survey responses – CHECK!

4.  Photographic References:  910 photos later (yes, I counted) – CHECK!


6.  Paint Dry:  CHECK!

7.  Photograph Artwork:  Thanks to the help of some very skilled, professional photographers – CHECK!

8.  Varnish Paintings:  CHECK!

9.  Frame Paintings:  Almost.  I need to pick up the last one at the end of the week from the framer.

10.  Write Artist Statement: Check!

11.  PR:  So, this is what I am up to now…getting the word out, how, and in what order.  If you can help me by spreading the word to your art loving, food enthusiastic, DC devotees I would be most grateful.  Or even point me in the direction of some great Facebook groups, blogs, etc.  Thank you!

12.  Hang Exhibition:  November 14th I will show up armed with 25+ pieces of artwork to hang!  I am so lucky that Strathmore is going to let me help hang my artwork, even if it is just a little.

13.  Reception:  Mark your calendars – Sunday, November 20, 2016 from 2-4pm.  Come enjoy the big reveal with me and some wine and treats.

In addition to my original checklist, because there is always things I did not think of-

14.  Prints:  I am also going thought the process of making giclee prints of several of my paintings for sale in the Strathmore Gift Shop.

15.  Lists:  Write it once, check it twice.  I am in the process of composing my final artwork list of titles, sizes, and prices for Strathmore to publish.

Months until Exhibition Opens: ONE! Whoo-hoo!

Lessons Learned from this month?:  The work does not stop when the paintbrush is cleaned.  It might even get harder.

That is it.  I am signing off on my monthly status reports.  There will be no more sneak peaks but lots more surprises.  Stay-tuned for the final images and lots more about the exhibition including the Curator’s Tour and potentially live painting demonstrations.   Follow my Facebook page for updates at

In the meantime, it is official  – check out my page on the Strathmore website –

Jennifer Kahn Barlow Perspectives

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5 Days of Painting and Wisdom with Cindy Procious

Cindy Procious’ finished demo painting

I am one lucky girl!  Last week I spent 5 days painting with the master of still lives, particularly food still lifes, Cindy Procious.  Anyone who chooses to depict the difference between the United States’ North and South on canvas with images of Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Krispy Kreme kicks ass in my book.

Honestly, it was just an intense, wonderful workshop I know I have not fully digested all the material and feedback Cindy taught.  With that in mind, I will give you the brief version, as I know 15 of you lucky students at the Compass Atelier in Rockville, MD will gain Cindy’s wisdom at the end of September and I would not want to ruin any suprises.

I am going to give you my big box lessons, because all the small ones would take up a novel.

    • THE SET-UP IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE – DON’T RUSH IT:  Cindy is meticulous at establishing her still lifes, which sometimes take her an entire day to achieve the right set-up, carefully avoiding tangents.  (FYI, tangents are her pet-peeve)IMG_7275


    • EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY:  Cindy thoroughly embraces technology, justified by the thought that if Rembrandt had computers back in his day, he would have used them too!  So, after the still life it set up, Cindy takes a photo of the scene, right at eye-level, then constantly shifts between painting from both her still life set-up in her shadow box and an image on her computer, which she has manipulated in Photoshop.


    • PHOTOSHOP IS ESSENTIAL:  Do all your thinking in Photoshop.  Learn to manipulate the image on the screen, so you can determine what is going to look best; therefore, avoiding wasting your time on the canvas.  Granted, Cindy is a certifiable Photoshop  wizard and even teaches Photoshop classes.  If you ever have the chance, take her photoshop class.
  • IMG_7297ITS ALL ABOUT THE BONES:  By using an ébauche technique, applying a thin layer of paint with accurate color and value as the underpainting, Cindy quickly establishes the overall appearance of the painting.  Cindy’s process emphasizes keeping the paint layers soft and thin so once the structure and colors are in place, it is really about adding the details.  Details and important areas are highlighted with harder edges, while geometry and accuracy are always in the forefront of Cindy’s mind.

      • GLAZE, GLAZE, GLAZE:  Once the structure is done and solid, use a glaze to make tonal adjustments and emphasize the details.


      • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE:  No need to elaboration on that one.


        IMG_7308This morning as I was painting in my studio and had Cindy’s words and lessons repeating in my head.  I am so excited to continue painting and see how all of Cindy’s teachings impact my work, as I know they will.  I am not quite finished with my painting from the workshop, but I will sure to post it when it is complete.

        In the meantime, this post would not be complete without a huge shout-out to the amazing Debra Keirce and your warm, welcoming home studio.  Debra, has an AMAZING line up of artists coming to teach in 2017 in Ashburn, VA so be sure to check them out at


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    August Status Update

    Wow, August.  This summer is FLYING by!  I painted furiously at the beginning of the summer, to accommodate numerous August travel plans.  While, I have unfortunately been away from my easel for a while, I have been able to use this opportunity to catch up on some computer work and marketing.

    I am gearing up to spend all next week painting before I am off to a 5-day “Oil Painting Foods and Beverages” with the infamous and incredibly talented Cindy Procious.  I am beyond excited for this workshop and am looking forward to applying what I learn to my remaining paintings.

    Without further adieu – here is my status as of August 15th –

    Painting Completion Goal:  10

    Subject Matters Photographed:  9

    Large Scale Paintings Completed:  6.33

    Months until Exhibition Opens: 3

    Months of Actual Painting time (excludes drying and framing):  2 (YIKES!!!)

    Artist Statement?:  Complete!

    Lessons Learned from this month?:  GRIT!  The Olympics and its amazing athletes have really had an impact on me.  The truly exceptional grit that is constantly displaced is awe worthy. To learn more, check out my blog post from last week:  Do Artists Need Grit?

    More to report in a month…as for now enjoy some sneak peeks and partial images of my finished paintings.  To see these more frequently, follow me on Instagram at

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    July Status Update

    It is well into July and I am furiously painting away to get ready for November.  My attire is either gross painting clothes or my swim suit, rarely in between.  So, what is the status?

    Painting Completion Goal:  10

    Subject Matters Photographed:  7

    Large Scale Paintings Completed:  4.75 + .5 (as I started working on multiple at a time) = 5.25?

    Months until Exhibition Opens: 4

    Months of Actual Painting time (excludes drying and framing):  3

    How am I feeling?:  In the thick of it!  I have found that I am devoting so much mental energy to my paintings that I am forgetting the little things, like my ATM pin code (yes, that happened today)

    Is it coming along like I hoped?:  Yes!!  I can’t wait to see what the final, cohesive product looks like.

    Lessons Learned from July?:  I hit a wall a couple weeks ago and found myself bored and procrastinating.  Eventually after some tears, I delved deeper into the types of paintings I admire and allowed my art evolve a bit.  My show would be really boring if it was all the same style, color palette, and vantage point, right?  So what did I mix up?  PAINT TEXTURE.  I love paintings with thick, luscious, unapologetic strokes of paint.  In Paris this past January, every Monet painting (especially his later works) I saw made me wanted to run my fingers over his layers of extravagant, thick paint.  I am still playing with the final result, but it sure was fun and freeing to glob on the paint!

    More to report in a month…as for now enjoy some sneak peeks and partial images of my finished paintings.  To see these more frequently, follow me on Instagram at

    IMG_6878 IMG_6900 IMG_6905 IMG_6924