Jennifer Hansen Rolli: A Work of He(art)
by Edie Weinstein
Gazing at colorfully creative Newtown based artist, Jennifer Hansen Rolli’s paintings, you may easily picture stepping into them. Imagery such as local landscapes, rustic barns and greenery, an umbrella-sheltered, rain drizzled crowd and tiny dancers in her daughter’s ballet class, are among the delights that emerge from her vivid imagination and are translated from head and heart through paint brush.
She comes by her talents naturally since her mother is a singer who performed off Broadway and her father, is a painter, as well as an engineer. They “absolutely 100% supported my art. Dad and I would paint together. He bought me a professional painter’s box when I was nine.”
Being a lifelong artist comes with a bonus benefit. She laughs as she shares, “I gained friends through my art. My best friend Amy Horwath said she wanted to be my friend because she “liked my barn painting.” We are still friends since kindergarten. I still paint barns and still need friends. When I stop needing friends, I will stop painting barns.”
Hansen Rolli is also a children’s book author. The catalyst for creating them harkens back to her own childhood.
“I grew up in Yardley. There is a pretty little lake and by it is an historic building which was our library when I was growing up. I loved children’s picture books when I was a kid. My little friend Amy and I would decorate the showcase at our school library. I didn’t think about designing picture books until I had kids. I became engrossed in design and became a graphic designer and illustrator.”
Five years ago, she began penning and illustrating her first book called Just One More. It is the story of Ruby who wants one more of so many things until it becomes more than enough. We marveled that it is a metaphor for life as well. The book appeals to a two to six-year-old audience and it made its debut two years ago. She is working on two others at the moment; the next to be released in fall 2017 and the following in spring 2018.
This prolific ‘creativa’ is “always writing. I have a passion for it, but it can be hard. I have lots of ideas for books, but have only 32 pages to get the story to play out. I need to keep it simple. I feel fortunate that illustrations can take the place of words. I don’t want to be redundant.”
Her whimsical illustrations tickle the soul. According to Hansen Rolli, “Illustration is different from painting. Painting is feeling and illustration is telling a story. Both are done in oils. I am looser with fine art than with illustration. Illustration is planned. They are two different styles. My life is much more Improv.”
Her paintings are of the Impressionist genre. Think Claude Monet, Edward Degas, Mary Cassatt, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh. Her favorites are Edouard Vuillard and William Langson Lathrop who was another prolific local artist.
Like many artists, her work feeds a compelling need to create
“I have a hankering to paint. I’ve been engrossed in writing the next book and working on illustrations, so painting has been on the back burner. When you can’t do something, you want to do it that much more. I always have to be painting. It could be something so simple like seeing through a barn window to the other side. I like openness to paint. Open and free. I do very large landscapes now. I used to do more complicated pieces. Doing big open strokes gives me freedom to move. I need to open up when I paint.”
Creativity runs in the family as she proudly describes her children. “My daughter Greta is an amazing painter, who just began at the Fashion Institute in New York City. My son Pierce is a great musician and a Junior at Drexel and has a band. Mia is the youngest and is a dancer at Mill Valley School in Lambertville and is in 7th grade. They are all good at visual arts.”
Her work is exhibited at the Silverman Gallery in Buckingham. There is a show coming up in December that will usher in the holidays in festive style.
To learn more about the work of h(eart) that is this Renaissance Woman visit her website. You will be swept away into a world of wonder.