Being Right Here Right Now
come together in remarkable harmony in the work of Jennifer Sparacino. The B.C. native who lives in Chilliwack draws on Eastern religions’ understandings of nature as teacher, the interconnectedness of all living things, and the importance of being in the moment. “Nature,” she says, “takes us as we are and can help bring the mind back to what is right here, right now.” Her current nature painting, though, is a far cry from the contemplative pastoral or rugged landscape traditions, focusing instead on animal life. Wild animals have become for her “a way of showcasing the intense presence or immediacy of living in the moment—they are simply being.” Jen’s family supported her artistic efforts throughout her childhood and through college and beyond, encouraging her to follow her dreams. They also provided in their Mission B.C. property the perfect setting for the developing young artist. Growing up on a small acreage backing a large tract of undeveloped crown land “formed in me a very deep appreciation and connection to the natural world,” she says. Now a mom herself, she is able to continue the twin supports of family and nature. Her studio, near her own home, is in her mother’s basement. Three large windows, excellent light, and built-in babysitting make it an excellent place to work. In the studio, Jennifer surrounds herself with art meditating Buddha to remind her “to trust life and ‘be here now’.” There is an antique armchair too for sipping tea and contemplating work in progress. From the studio, she has easy access to the Vedder River trails with stunning views of mountains, river, and farmland.
Studies in graphic design and commercial illustration at Capilano University, followed by work as a graphic designer for a newspaper and on both Jen’s style and her working approach. Strong composition, careful design structure and the effective use of white space are all elements developed in her design background and evident in the style of her paintings. On the business end of things, she says: “I think the decision to work as a graphic designer in a marketing setting helped me to think more like a marketer and develop some business savvy. It helped further my time management skills and professional development. I also learned how to be creative under pressure or how to push through periods of ‘not feeling creative’ and get on with my work.” At Capilano, she studied under Kiff Holland who provided a role model both aesthetically and professionally. It was a senior project in which she interviewed Canadian painting legend Robert Genn that convinced her that not only was it possible to be a fulltime artist but that this was the path for her. Although her current subjects are not human, Jen keeps her hand in from time to