PENINSULA — Artist Jeanne Bellinger likes to mix things up. Art is an adventure for her, whether she’s working on a painting, collage or mobile. She becomes fearless when she’s creating. She explained recently, “It’s all about exploring.”
And explore, she does. One work might have several different mediums. She said her thought process includes that element of adventure and a lot of “what ifs.” She’ll think, “What would happen if I used this? What would happen if I tried it this way?”
Bellinger seems to naturally have a zest for life and a curious mind. She is cheerful, bright and spontaneous. All those traits seem to shine through in her artistic endeavors.
Jean Nitzel, owner of The Picture Attic would agree that Bellinger dives right into projects with enthusiasm. “She’s not afraid of color. Her amazing personality comes through in her work,” Nitzel said, adding, “And I just love her.”
On Aug. 9 at Nitzel’s business, The Picture Gallery in Long Beach, she held the opening for a new show in the gallery portion of the building. Called A Summer Sampler of Art and Music, it was a festive event for works created by a numerous list of local artists, including Bellinger, who has three creations in this show, which will stay up through October.
On the west wall is a large floral painting which Bellinger said she did with, “Some watercolor and alcohol markers.” The flowers are a vivid orange. Also on that wall is a smaller work, a brightly colored campfire scene. On the east wall, there is a painting of a Rod Run scene.
Lots of mediums
Bellinger tries a little bit of everything. She said, “Sometimes, I’ll work on a watercolor or acrylic, but I don’t limit myself to that. I might also use watercolor pencils with the paint.”
“I’ve done a lot of the hanging mobiles,” she said. “I started out originally making those using just scrapes of paper, but after a while, I thought, what would happen if I just made my own papers.” So she did.
Recently, she experimented with a self portrait, which she did as a collage, using a collection of duplicate photographs, which she cut into strips. “It was really fun,” she recalled. “So, that’s what mixed media is to me, I just use whatever,” her voice trailed off.
At the art show
Such events as The Picture Attic show are after-work ventures for both her and her husband, Steve Bellinger. Both work for Ocean Beach Clinic. She is a receptionist in Ocean Park and he is a Physician Assistant-certified. When she gets home from a day’s work, he usually arrives later. So, she admits, the first thing she does, when getting home is, “head to my corner,” to work on art or crafts. “It’s a good decompression after a day’s work. I think it’s been really good for me to do that.”
When she feels she needs a break from art, she said she might, “do some quilting for a while. And then I go back to my art.”
She said she thinks that creativity of any kind, “is a really important thing. It feeds our souls. It’s important to express ourselves, but I also love being able to share it.”
Hanging here and there
Bellinger loves to share her art, often publicly displaying her work. “If I get to the point where I’m pretty happy with a piece, I like to show it. I like people to see it. And where I work they’ve been very generous in letting me do that,” she said.
Before she started at the Ocean Park Clinic, she worked in the lab at the hospital,”for a long time. In the past, some mobiles I made had been hung in various departments of the hospital, but I have hung the majority of my work up at the Ocean Park Clinic, where I now work full time.”
Her first creative outlet was music
“I would say that for the majority of my adult life, my focus had been music. I was very much involved with it,” Bellinger said.
“Aside from being in music at church a very long time ago I started coming down to the Port of Ilwaco, where there were kind of little jam sessions that would go on Sunday afternoons. I got to know some musicians there. That led me to singing with the North Coast Big Band and I did that for five years or more.”
But a few years ago, she said, “My dad got sick and that started taking more and more time, so I just pulled out of the music thing I was involved in. I think the time was right, because I never looked back,”
She had always had an interest in art, so she decided to try it. She is basically self-taught. “The only formal training I’ve ever had was years and years ago, when I took a couple watercolor classes from Eric Wiegardt.”
Her adventurous spirit led her, as she began trying different types of art on her own. Se explained, “I picked up a pencil and started doing some drawing. Then, I got some charcoal and tried that,” and the experimenting with various mediums has continued ever since.
Life with an empty nest
Jeanne and Steve Bellinger have lived on the Peninsula for nearly 40 years. Their two children were born and raised here. Son, Matthew, “just finished his Ph.D. in communications at Pacific University. Our daughter, Hope, is a senior in college, majoring in theater arts at George Fox University in Newberg.”
She said that Hope, “basically grew up here in the PAPA theater group. She learned to work hard, from about the age of nine, but she loved musical theater.”
Hope and also Bellinger’s father have often been subjects for her art work. “I’m really drawn to people and portraits. There’s something about a person’s face. There’s a story there. I’ve done other things and that’s OK, but I always seem to come back to people.”
It’s all right to put Jeanne Bellinger in a corner
So, with the children gone and Steve often working late, Bellinger can spend guilt-free hours in her “corner” when she gets home from work. Self-enrichment is important to her. She explained, “Whether it’s hanging up a picture or making a quilt and giving it to somebody, that’s a big piece of the puzzle for me.”
For her, it is still a learning process, as she continues to try a lot of different materials and methods.
“And that’s the fun part. It’s the exploration and adventure.”