About Jennifer Orkin Lewis
A deep love of color, pattern and nature are the foundation of Jennifer Orkin Lewis’ work as an artist, illustrator, author and teacher. Her joyful gouache paintings of flowers, random objects, people and occasional meditative abstract musings open a colorful and enticing window onto a detail of the day one might ordinarily overlook.
Ten years ago she made the move to switch careers from textile design to illustration, to fulfill a long held goal, and began a rigorous daily sketchbook project, doing a 30 minute painting every day. The looseness and intuitiveness of those paintings became her signature style and they are the source of much inspiration to herself and others. She is endlessly amazed and satisfied to see her shelf filling up with completed sketchbooks.
Jennifer’s work has been featured on many products and brands worldwide, including Anthropologie, Abrams Books, Chronicle Books, Eeboo, Kate Spade Home, Tocca, Roger LaBorde as well as many others. Her books include two inspirational sketchbook journals published by Abrams that encourage and inspire people to develop their own daily drawing practice. She also wrote a book called All Hail the Queen with Chronicle books, which empowers girls and women through informative and wonky illustrations of powerful woman monarchs throughout history.
Jennifer studied at Rhode Island School of Design and spent the first half of her career as a textile designer and stylist in NYC. She is now happily painting in a beautiful, soaring newly renovated garage studio in the backyard of her home which took many, many years to reimagine. She is available for collaborations and commissions, her favorite way to work.
Art Walk Interview with Jennifer Orkin Lewis
What is your backgroud?
I have a degree in textile design. My first career was designing and styling groups of prints that would be sold to manufacturers of lingerie (re: my love of flowers), children’s wear and women’s wear. Ten years ago I began concentrating on illustration. I’ve always had a strong bent towards pattern design. I have been keeping a sketchbook for over 7 years which is the place I can really let loose and play with ideas.
What inspires you?
Color, especially unexpected color, Pattern, outdoor markets, travel, new places. I love taking a walk and looking closely at the things that surround me and absorbing the atmosphere of the place where I am.
I’m inspired by mixing things up a bit in my art, adding a new technique, a new material or a new vantage point. I like to look at it as play, then I’m not as precious about each piece and can learn something from each.
What is a typical day in the life of Jennifer Orkin Lewis?
There are definitely things I choose to do each day. For example, I paint a lot every day because it gives me joy. I run my business which also includes things I don’t love – like accounting and marketing – but are necessary.
I also make sure to take the time to take long walks, read and visit with friends (when life gets normal again).
What attracts you about travel journaling?
Being in a new place and getting excited by new views, people, food, colors. All of these things make it into my sketchbook in either simple sketches , impressions or fully finished paintings.
I love to be able to look back at the sketchbook once I am home because these pages bring me right back to the place I was. Recording in a sketchbook is the best way to remember a place.
Why do students attend your courses? What will they get out of it?
I teach students how to use gouache in a loose, intuitive colorful way. We will work on making new marks, filling up the page with color, and creating a collection of memories through painting.
What have you learned from creating while you travel?
I’ve learned to slow down and really look at what I’m seeing, finding fleeting moments that inspire me and make me want to paint.
Create a Sketchbook Travel Journal in France!
Join Jennifer Orkin Lewis for 6 days painting and playing on the French Riviera June 21-27, 2021.
Take (another) Art Walk Vacation
Our Art Walk programs pair unique travel in beautiful destinations with talented teaching artists. We bring you to the most inspiring places to cultivate your creative side. Explore our other programs...
September 20-30, 2021 Mary Beth Shaw invites you to this very special mixed media, art journal workshop in Italy. Visit Northern Italy’s most loved destinations and lesser-known treasures.
May 17-29, 2022 12-day travel photography workshop in Greece with Jeff Hirsch. From Athens, island hop to Amorgos, Naxos, and Santorini.
Join Lorraine Bell for her travel journal sketching and watercolor workshop on the French Riviera in June 2022.