Artist Interview: Juanita "Jennie" Wyatt

Posted by Crossroads Art Center General Account - June 16 2022


Q: What started it all for you? How did you get into the arts?

A: When I was a child, my mom taught me how to draw. We were very poor and only had pencils and paper, so I always drew. I was born out west and my Hispanic heritage is why I create such colorful paintings. I went to college and double majored in Spanish and Art, but my love has always been art. I taught high school for 23 years but knew I wanted to become an artist, so eventually I left to become a full-time artist. I have been at Crossroads for 20+ years now, since the very beginning, Jenni has been very supportive and encouraging of our art.  


Q: Tell me about your creative process / How do you approach new projects?

A: I often see something on the tv or internet and then expand on that. I begin to think about the composition, and values. You can see in my drawings of women especially; it’s always leading to a focal point. I have varied subject matter, but love to focus on strong women. The fact that I was drawing all the time at first eventually led me to painting. Now I work in colored pencil, watercolor, charcoal, and oil. I always like to have two or three pieces that I’m working on at any time. I get bored with just one medium!


Q: Who and/or what are your biggest inspirations and how do they influence your work?

A: I’ve been told I am a colorist, which I believe ties back to my Hispanic heritage. I am 50% Mexican Indian and first generation in the United States. I have always been drawn to beautiful colors, and am influenced by the Impressionists and Realists. Even when I was a teacher, I used art as a method of teaching. I always want to bring the colors of my Hispanic heritage into my paintings. I carry my pencils everywhere; I draw all the time.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on a cowgirl series right now, which also ties back to my heritage. My Hispanic heritage is always pulling at me. You reach a point in your life when you just paint what you like, not what will sell. Paint what you like and like what you paint. Your paintings are an autobiography of your life, really.