77 Jennifer Gennari

"My goal has always been to somehow bring these two sides of myself together and do work that is in the middle of the illustrative/imaginative world and the classical/traditional world."

Jennifer Gennari is an amazing painter of portraits - of people and pets, and other wild animals. Her paintings, which she describes as a 'labor of love', stand out for their fluid, flashy brush work, rich, glowing colors, intense chiaroscuro, and compelling expressions - sometimes fierce, but always adorable. Jennifer lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has taught at the Nat. Academy Museum & School, and the Long Island Academy of fine art. Awards include being a finalist in the Artist Renewal Center and a certificate of excellence from the Portrait Society of America. Jennifer has also been featured in magazines such as Artist Portfolio and Southwest Art. She now offers private (and online) lessons in portraiture, and has produced an instructional book on figure drawing.

'Girl with Glass Bowl' a self-portrait

Jennifer talks about her childhood inspiration in this interview with Allison Malafronte (Newington-Cropsey, 2017):

"I was about six years old watching TV and a commercial came on for the re-release of Disney's The Little Mermaid. I was so excited; I ran into the kitchen to ask my mom if we could see it. My mother's response was, 'Yes, we can see it, but if you're that excited about the characters why don't you just draw them so you can see them right now?" So quite literally from that point on I was drawing. The entire bottom shelf of hte wall unit in our living room was filled with my sketches from movie-concept books or art books, usually Disney. I would inadvertently treat them like Bargue drawings - I would copy every single page, trying to make them look exactly as I saw them. From that early influential experience, it became my dream to one day work for Disney as an illustrator or animator. I found out that Disney hired a lot of graduates from Ringling College of Art + Design, so that is the only college I applied to and where I ended up receiving my B.F.A. in 2005."


Unfortunately, by the time Jennifer graduated, Disney had shifted most of it's films towards digital animation, which Jennifer found too technical. She worked for Hallmark, designing cards, but as that grew more of a digital job, she longed for something else. When she saw the art being produced at the Florence Academy of Art, she applied, and studied there for three years, most notably with Daniel Graves.


In 2015, Jennifer began painting portrait commissions of people's pets. She explains (Malafronte, 2017) how it started:

"About a year and a half ago, after I parted ways with a gallerist due to differences of opinion about the way I was working, I didn't want to paint people for a while. I ended up inadvertently befriending a girl on Instagram who took beautiful photographs of her cats. I decided one day to paint several paintings of these cats, and I really enjoyed it.

"Hairless cats are amazing to paint - it's like solid form but instead of having white skin or black skin there are all these other colors: blues and pinks and purples. I felt really refreshed working on these and learned a lot about paint application and color. I told the girl that I painted her cats and asked her if it was okay to share the images, and she was fine with it. So from there, it started to take off with people contacting me and asking me to paint their cats or dogs. These commissions came entirely through social media: for every one I post, another two or three requests come back in. It's been a great way to have a little side business that allows me to continue working on my personal work, without having to change myself or my style to match certain expectations."


Jennifer says (Malafronte, 2017):

"My definition of artistic success is to be the best painter I can be and paint the things I really want to paint. I want to push myself and challenge myself and not get stuck in situations that compromise my artistic identity. I want to be doing real, genuine work even if I'm barely getting by. I would love it if at the end of my life I've created paintings that other artists respect and younger artists can perhaps look up to. That to me is what art is: a conversation. Sitting with your peers and admiring and critiquing one another's works - and each person doing his or her part to contribute an individual vision to the whole."

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'Portrait of Ruby'


'Good Boy'

'Weimaraner Pups'


'Happiest of all the Puppers'



'Little Tribe'

'Eyes Open'