Howdy Nation! In today’s post, we are going to be featuring our ‘Artist Spotlight’ of the week: Jennifer DiArenzo. Using pyrography, Jennifer was able to create the “Kraken Everyday Tray” using the Giant Pacific Octopus as inspiration. Let’s take a dive into her wood-burning process!
Jennifer DiArenzo is a pyrography, or wood-burning, artist who focuses on wildlife and pet portraiture work. As a lifelong artist and self-taught pyrographer since 2017, Jen works from her home just outside of Philadelphia, PA, with her husband and two kids!
The first piece we are showcasing today is called the “Kraken Everyday Tray”, which was a collaboration project with Copper Pig Fine Woodworking. I wanted to capture the twisting and clutching of the arms around the piece of stolen treasure.
This particular octopus piece was done completely from my imagination. This piece was so popular I actually ended up making and selling two of them.
The octopus marking gauge was a collaboration with Mass Woodworks! I burned a Giant Pacific Octopus on the finely crafted beechwood gauge as a part of a series of three pieces based on an air, land, and sea predator. This composition served as a bit of practice for the surfboard, which was good because the details were tricky to get just right.
Finally, the mini surfboard series with Ventana Surfboards features iconic sea life and landmarks of Monterey Bay, CA. The bottom board is a Giant Pacific Octopus hiding in some giant kelp, with a great white shark looming in the distance. The textures on the mantle and the tiny suckers were definitely a challenge, but I really love how it turned out, and it was definitely hard to let this series go. It is available as a framed set from Ventana!
What draws you in or fascinates you the most about octopuses? When did this start for you?
“I’ve always had a passion for the ocean and sea life, almost going to college for marine biology instead of art. Though cetaceans are my favorite, cephalopods are just incredibly fascinating creatures. Their intelligence and gracefulness are so unique, so mesmerizing, how can you not be drawn to them?
The way they move about their environment – I could watch that all day!”
OctoNation members love knowing how long your work takes you to complete…
“Enough hours that I forget to count! As a stay-at-home mom to two little ones, most of my work time is broken up or late at night.”
Was this modeled after a specific octopus species? Did you use any references?
“The marking gauge and the mini surfboard are Giant Pacific Octopuses. I used about six different royalty-free references and combined them to make the composition I wanted.
Since all the photos had different light sources, I had to create that myself.”
What materials were used?
“The kraken tray was burned on cherry wood and the coin is done with gold leaf. The marking gauge is made out of beechwood!
The boards, crafted by artisan Martijn Stiphout, are wood burning on Alaskan yellow cedar offcuts from the rebuild of the Western Flyer, the ship charted by John Steinbeck and Ed “Doc” Ricketts for their voyage on the Sea of Cortez in 1940.”
Who (or what) are your biggest influences?
“All of my work is inspired and influenced by nature. But, as far as artists that inspire me, there are many, but the biggest is probably Robert Bateman. His wildlife paintings are just breathtaking, capturing the importance of the environment as well as the subject.
That’s something I want to work on in my own art.”
When do you feel the most creative?
“All the time. My brain never shuts off!”
How do you know when a piece is finished?
“When I feel it matches what I see in my head.
I very rarely go too far, but sometimes I may call it done and end up wishing I had pushed details a bit farther later on. I always will put a piece away on a shelf for at least a week after I think I’m finished, then bring it back out and look at it again with fresh eyes.
Only then will I tweak it more, if necessary.”
Where’s the best place for people to discover your work?
“You can find me on Instagram!”
🐙 Octopus Fun Fact
Jennifer taught herself wood burning in 2017 as a new hobby after her second child was born, for some me-time. She never imagined it would turn into her full-time job, burning pet portraits and wildlife art!
Thank You For Joining Us For Artist Spotlight!
First, we want to give a big thank you to Jennifer for allowing us to showcase this beautiful artwork on OctoNation. To continue supporting Jennifer and her wood-burning art, make sure to follow them on Instagram @jendiarenzocreative.
If you have any interest in commissioning a piece from them, send her a message on Instagram!
If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!
Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.
More Artists To Check Out:
Vee is the blog manager here at OctoNation. Her love and knowledge for all things cephalopods has grown immensely since joining the OctoNation team- and continues to grow daily!
Vee uses her skills of writing, editing, and brainstorming to help create fun, yet educational posts about cephalopods- Something everyone can read and enjoy! As someone who spent the better part of her childhood near the ocean in Miami, Florida, she grew up learning to appreciate all sea life. Her love for the sea inspired her to do something daring- she dyed her hair blue!