Artist Spotlight: Jen Shewring

Artist Spotlight: Jen Shewring


"It was having kids that really cemented painting into my routine. I found I’d be energised while painting a couple of nights a week after they were all asleep. I’d grab a glass of red and slip into my studio, play music and paint until midnight. I’d be so excited the next morning to race into my studio to see the new painting in the daylight."


Jen Shewring Artist The Block Shop Artist Lane The Block Shop shine's the spotlight on artist Jen Shewring, featured on The Block this year.


Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am a Melbourne based artist with a studio nestled amongst the leafy green trees of my garden in Camberwell. I’ve been creating all my life. We have 3 kids, a dog and a cat so life is busy!

Art for me has always been a calming place of peace away from the fast pace of life, it totally absorbs and doesn’t allow room for any other thoughts in the same way that cooking or dancing might do this for others.

As a teenager I spent my weekends creating pottery and designing and making my own clothes. We had a makeshift photography studio under our house where I joined my father in developing our photographs.

During my 20’s I worked with many local Master artists in Melbourne to explore a range of styles and mediums. I fell in love with watercolours, then oils and finally acrylic paints for all their beautiful and endless possibilities to create vibrant colours.

It was having kids that really cemented painting into my routine. I found I’d be energised while painting a couple of nights a week after they were all asleep. I’d grab a glass of red and slip into my studio, play music and paint until midnight. I’d be so excited the next morning to race into my studio to see the new painting in the daylight.

I’ve had many studios all over Melbourne but have found a home studio works best for me. One side of my Camberwell studio completely opens up to the elements and into a private garden oasis, I absolutely love it to bits!

I’m fortunate to have painting as my full time job. My family have always been supportive of my painting because they see how incredibly happy it makes me which then reflects back into our home life. You should see me after I finish a good painting session, I come in from the studio dancing and literally floating around bringing joy to everyone.

I have accepted that I need to paint, it is a meditative state for me that can wipe all thoughts and calm yet energise me at the same time. After a session in my studio I’m pumped and ready to party!

We are currently renovating a house and art studio in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula where I hope to spend more time painting the beautiful countryside. This will be a taste of the tree change life for us.


How long have you been producing your art?

Producing art has been a lifelong passion. I have been exhibiting and selling my work to art collectors for around 15 years.

One of the biggest lessons for me was to believe in myself and open my artistic journey to others because there is overwhelming support out there from art collectors, galleries and artists. And without this support I really don’t think I could have achieved the level of happiness I now find in my painting.

There was a massive learning curve navigating the world of online galleries, social media, building my own website, obtaining gallery representation, working with interior designers and learning about framing and printing my artworks. But I’ve loved every minute!

Jen Shewring Artist The Block Shop Artist Lane Jen Shewring supplied The Block with some amazing art for the 2022 Treechange.


Where do you draw inspiration from?

It can come from a flower bathed in blue light from a misty morning sun or the heavily scented orange glow of the afternoon summer sunset.

A painting can transform your mood and take you to these places. It is often an abstract interpretation of a garden I’ve seen on a morning walk – my neighbourhood in Melbourne has very old gardens about 100-120 years old and you find gems of plants & flowers pop up that you’ve never seen before!

I’m inspired by Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula where we often stay, I love the rolling hills, vineyards, open skies, tranquility and these countryside scenes are slowly integrating themselves into my work, I love painting them and I think you’ll see a lot more of them to come!

My art practice provides a means of deepening my appreciation for nature because I am always outdoors and studying and sketching.

I do switch from bright vivid colour palettes to earthy colours depending on my mood and the feeling I want to express in my work. I place vivid complementary colours next to each other so that they shimmer off the canvas.

Sometimes I mix colours directly on the canvas resulting in optical mixing on a microscopic level – if you look really closely at the canvas you can see the individual pigments – it gives a luminosity that can’t be achieved if paints are fully mixed (orange – red/yellow not fully mixed, wow! It can glow)

I like to paint with expressive loose brushstrokes to capture the essence of the subject rather than it’s details.

Rather like capturing a momentary, fleeting effect of a scene on the eye, especially the colours and effects of light.

I think that art should start a conversation. As a passionate believer in sustainability, I aim to direct our attention to the impact modern living has on the environment. We continue to wreak havoc on our environment with the continued use of chemicals and plastics that will ultimately lead to irreversible damage and possible permanent climate change. I have studied the science and read a lot of research and I’m worried! I’m a strong advocate for less is more: reduce, reuse, recycle and try to make a difference. 

Nearly all my canvases begin with a deep charcoal colour. My background story is that this colour reflects the deep and underlying emotion I feel as we all slowly destroy our planet, it saddens me and I try not to let it overwhelm me but essentially, I am a huge optimist that can also see the immense beauty found in life, such as the colourful flowers or a peaceful landscape. I place this beauty over the charcoal background to draw the viewer into my work, then I highlight the urgent need to protect our planet for future generations to enjoy.

My social media stories reflect this as I try to speak out about sustainable living ideas such as reminding people to bring reusable bags to the shop, to say no to plastic, to reuse clothes within a family or ways we can prevent food wastage

For me, it is important that my art should tell a story and also bring pleasure to connect with the viewer so that it’s both enjoyed and highlights the need protect our planet. I am passionate and optimistic about protecting and preserving our environment in all its natural beauty'.

I’m a big believer in art being able to influence and contribute to the way people see their world.I'm a fanatical recycler of everything! And many years ago I stopped buying junk. I am deeply concerned with the impact our daily lives have on the world around us. I was super excited when my local council recently introduced curbside food scraps recycling, turning it into compost and saving it from land fill.Even though I'm a tiny speck in the world I want to leave a healthy world to my children. So every week I take my soft plastics back to the supermarket to be made into useful products like park benches. I don't buy clothing if what I have is fine, I even wear my growing kids discarded fashions. I spend countless minutes everyday training my family on the proper use of the recycling symbols on packaging and the correct bins for discarding waste. I walk to the shops instead of driving and I try to buy food that has no packaging. I could go on...don't get me started.... but I'll stop here for now.'My paintings are intended to bring the outdoors inside and ultimately provide joy and happiness from connecting with nature’.


How would you describe your art?

My artistic style would be described as Semi Abstract Impressionism – as if I’d glanced at a scene for a moment, recorded it mentally then I apply my emotional response to that real world.

I attempt to capture the feeling of the moment and often use bright colours to enhance the emotions of love and joy and at other times use rich earthy colours for a more tranquil feel to an artwork.

I think my love of nature took hold in my mid-twenties when my love for the outdoors inspired me to travel around Australia with virtually no money, a friend, a tent and a van. Living in National Parks or coastal foreshores for a whole year, bathing in the rivers and the sea and cooking on campfires gave me a connection to nature at a young age and that connection has remained with me for life. Taking the time to appreciate all the tiny details of this awesome country changed my world forever. I’m definitely one of those people who need to be outside every day.

I also think my science degree in genetics and microbiology has influenced my work in that I tend to look at nature at the microscopic level, I love all the little details, colours and shapes found in nature then interpret them in a slightly abstracted way.

I like to touch, smell and observe those details to capture the complete essence of a flower, leaf, tree or landscape.

I find myself drawn to painting floral pieces because flowers are natures way of smiling and they make me happy. I often receive beautiful messages about my work from collectors who tell me of the joy and happiness my flowers gave to their home.


Jen Shewring Artist The Block Shop Artist LaneArtist Jen Shewring with her Block masterpiece, 'Macedon Mist'


Your art features on The Block this year? Feel free to expand as much as you like here please... How it came about? Which couple? What was your initial reaction? 

OMG!! I was so super excited and honoured to be asked by Artist Lane in collaboration with The Block Shop to create original artworks for The Block. It’s a dream come true and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I literally danced around screaming with joy. I created a collection specifically for The Block inspired by my recent trip to the Mount Macedon Ranges and I can’t wait until I see which couple chose my work. I think the location for this season of The Block is perfect!

The pandemic gave us plenty of time to review our lives and it changed the way we can work to have a better life/work balance. With the option for many of us to work remotely came the desire to leave the big cities and move to the countryside.

The Block at Macedon Ranges is a perfect one hour drive to the city providing the ultimate rural tree-change. It is wonderful to see that each of the houses will be totally off grid, we can all learn from it and it is the way of the future. The scenery is stunning, the houses are huge and the budget is a whopper. This season is one we all want to watch!


What does it mean for you to have your art featured on The Block and be a Block Shop artist?

To have my art featured on The Block is so exciting and makes me feel validated in the Australian arts community as a professional artist. It’s a wonderful feeling to have The Block contestants choose my paintings from an extensive selection of available art. And if the judges are kind it could open up my work and my sustainable living ideas to a whole new community of art and interior design lovers.

Wonderful opportunities like this do not generally happen by chance or being in the right spot at the right time – they evolve from hard work and passion.


Favourite Block couple?

I’m only just getting to know the new Block couples so I don’t have a favourite yet. It’s only the first week and all the contestants seem really lovely but let’s wait to see what happens when the competition builds up, it can bring out the best and worst in people.

Josh & Jenna from The Block 2011 were a family favourite – my kids and I met them while they were touching up the paint on their front fence of their Block house in Richmond back in 2011, they were so kind posing in photos with our kids. They are now doing a tree change themselves in Rutherglen, VIC called the ‘Castle House’.


Tom and Sarah-Jane The Block Shop Jen Shewring ArtMaster Bedroom winners, Tom and Sarah-Jane used Jen's Art in the room.


Tom and Sarah-Jane Guest Bedroom Jen Shewring Art'Macedon Mist' in all of it's glory in the winning Master Bedroom, perfection!


Are there any particular artists that inspire you?

I’m a huge fan of the Impressionist painters (Monet, Camille Pissaro and Paul Cezanne) who place vivid complementary colours next to each other so that they shimmer off the canvas.

I also love the Modern Abstract artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko for their use of colour.


Where do you like to create your art?

I love creating my art in my beautiful home studio, it’s my happy place.  

To get into my creative zone I sit in my studio with a cup of chai tea. I am fortunate that one side of my studio completely opens up to the elements and into a private garden oasis, I absolutely love it to bits! I’m so grateful to have it, it makes me happy beyond belief. I generally fuel up on food so I don’t have to stop painting to eat then turn on the music and find almost instant calm. One time I was so engrossed in my work that I painted for 10 hours straight! It took days to recover from that one.

Before I start a painting I have already thought about the composition, shapes and colours and once I begin to paint often the painting will take on a life of its own and evolve which I really enjoy. Sometimes I don’t want this to happen and I really have to concentrate hard and keep pulling it back into line, like when I’m trying out a new technique or a new colour palette.

Usually I select a handful of colours that I know will work well together and blend all my colours using only that handful so that the painting harmonises. I was taught this technique many years ago and it has stayed with me.

I’ve had 7 or 8 different studios all over Melbourne, two of them were in artist communities in Collingwood and Surrey Hills where I was hoping to connect with other artists but found to my surprise that they hardly ever turned up. My other studios were above shops but ultimately, I like to work at all sorts of odd hours to fit in around family life and found that the best studio for me was always the one I had at home.


Do you have a playlist / podcast you like to create to?

I have a few favourite playlists, all last year during lockdown I played the moody Melbourne band ‘City Calm Down’ but right now I’m into the cheerful and cheeky vibe of Sydney band ‘Lime Cordiale’.

My family shares a passion for live music and we go to a lot of gigs in Melbourne’s fabulous music scene. Even mid-week we will drive into the city to see one of our favourite bands perform as it energises us and brings us together.

I also listen to loads of art podcasts, my favourite right now is ‘My Crazy Artist Life’ where they interview artists and discuss how to run an art practice.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I paint 7 days a week. I exercise early in the morning, prepare meals in advance so I can get to my studio. I’m a very organised person and need my home life to run smoothly so I have a clear run of creativity

The balance to fit art around life is hard for me because I’m just a little obsessed and think about art day & night. I have to be careful to keep my longing for painting in balance with family life and teenage kids who still need me.

There is also the long hours on the computer each week uploading new artworks, social media, framing, prints, couriers and preparing canvases but this is not hard work to me, its totally a passionate love affair and the icing on the cake is the fabulous hours spent creating paintings. 

Jen Shering Artist the block shopJen Shewring in her favourite place her sunny little studio, full of colour!


How do you fit your art around life/kids?/work- Any tips?

As I mentioned in the previous question I prepare meals in advance so that if I’m in my creative zone at dinner time no one will starve! I generally start work as soon as all my kids are at school and work all day. I mostly run the household but I find ways to make it easier. I order groceries online, I exercise at home using YouTube videos and I schedule social events so as we don’t have too many in the one week. My kids became really helpful during lockdown, we started a tradition called ‘family folding’ where we all fold clothes together around the dining table, it’s actually quite a laugh.


What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day starts after all my kids are at school around 8am. I exercise first for around 30 minutes because I really don’t like exercising so I need to get it out of the way. Sometimes I prepare dinner at this point but I’m usually on my computer after that for an hour or so loading new paintings onto my website or arranging framing, just general correspondence. Then I grab a cup of chai tea and walk out the door to my beautiful garden studio. As soon as I open the big glass doors of my studio a wave of excitement and relaxation overtakes me as it is my calming, peaceful place yet I’m excited to get creating. I usually lose track of time and end up having a late lunch followed by another few hours of painting. 


Favourite holiday destination?

Venice in Italy, I couldn’t believe the all vivid colours around every corner. And the huge art exhibition called the Venice Biennale was on when we were there and we spent 2 days exploring art from all around the world, it was magical.

We recently returned from a trip overseas and visited many museums. As an artist I am always looking at the brushstrokes, colours and composition of famous artworks when I visit the museums, I can’t help myself from dissecting the paintings in my mind. Mostly I take inspiration from beautiful colour combinations.


Hardest person to buy a gift for?

The hardest person to buy a gift for is my partner, he is such a minimalist and doesn’t want anything! A few years ago we agreed that it was easier if I just stopped buying presents for him. And now he’s happy, bizarre and easy!


What would you buy yourself from The Block Shop?

I absolutely love the arch bathroom mirrors as seen on The Block bathroom week, we are renovating a house at Red Hill and I’m seeing loads of inspiration from the contestants. The Block Shop website has a ‘Reno Supplies’ section that I’m sure will come in handy.

I do like the Smeg kitchen appliances, so curvy and stylish, they make any kitchen look fabulous!

Our kids have been asking for an air fryer, they want to make hot chips at home so I think that is next on the list.


Favourite house decorating trend?

I love a Modern Farmhouse look, stone fireplaces, big windows, big comfy couches and some rustic wooden finishes but with modern clean lines and not too cluttered. I think this would suit the houses at the new 2022 season of The Block in the beautiful countryside of the Macedon Ranges.


Most decadent thing in your house?

The most decadent thing in our house is our outdoor courtyard, we designed seating around the edges using chunky old railway sleeper wood, then added colourful strip lighting, heaters, cushions and an ethanol fireplace.

We sit here in the evenings with music playing and have a few drinks on most weekends all throughout the year, we love it!  


Oldest and/or daggiest thing you have in your house that should be thrown out but you just can’t bring yourself to?

The oldest and daggiest things in my house are actually my clothes, I’m told by my family that I should stop wearing those rags. I’m a fanatical recycler and that includes my clothes, I currently have on my son’s bright blue hoodie. I’m definitely not a shopper, you’ll see me wearing the same outfits over and over. I do like bright colourful clothing so my teenage kids discarded fashions are perfect for me.


Favourite room in the house?

My studio of course, although technically that is outside. I love our living area, its open plan and the hub of the house where our family gathers every evening. It has a gas fireplace so it’s cosy in winter and full of sunshine in summer, it’s a happy room.


Jen Shewring Artist The block shopIt's not hard to see why Jen Shewring's perfect place is this studio at her home!


If you could renovate one room in your house which would it be?

If I could renovate one room in our house it would be the kitchen.

It was built in the early 90s by the previous owners and they spent a small fortune on it, so everything is really well made and designed, it even has stainless steel benchtops which was quite progressive for the 90s.

We gave it a facelift when we spray painted the cupboards but it is over 30 years old now and starting to show its age.


Have you built your own house?

We haven’t built our own house but we have project managed 5 major renovations, so we have a good idea what to do now as you learn so much with each new build. Every time I said ‘that is the last one I’m doing’ as it is so time consuming but we love it so we do it again. It is the only way to create the house of your dreams.


Favourite decor item in the house?

My favourite décor item in our house is a bright turquoise blue sideboard buffet that we came across in a homewares warehouse in Richmond. The colour is amazing, it glows and brightens our room and brings me so much joy.


Favourite artwork you own?

The favourite artwork I own is probably my latest creation, I know this sounds silly but I fall in love with all my paintings as soon as they are finished, and I bring them inside to hang on our living room wall so I can appreciate them for a while before they find their forever home. 

Jen Shewring Artist The Block ShopJen featured with her artworks 'Sunshine on Macedon' (left) and 'Macedon Mist' (Right), we are in LOVE with these artworks made exclusively for The Block and The Block Shop.


Most treasured possession (other than kids or partner!)

My most treasured possession is a ring that my partner purchased on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Every time I look at it, I remember that wonderful day in the warm summer sun where he presented me with the ring and professed his love, so romantic.

What wasn’t romantic is that our 6 year old daughter nearly fell into the raging river shortly afterwards!


Know anyone else who hasn’t been featured on The Block but should be?

There is a Melbourne artist Martin Breeze who is also a singer/songwriter. His art is bold and energetic, and his canvasses are manifestations of flow and expression without rules and boundaries. The influence of music is present in his art as a notion of movement and melodic flow. I love his artworks because they are pure abstract with vibrant colours and lines and you can see they have been created with a free spirit. 


A perfect Sunday afternoon would be….

A perfect Sunday afternoon would be bathed in sunshine, 26 degrees and walking the long stretch of white sand with my family at Point Leo beach on the Mornington Peninsula after having had a delicious homemade lunch at The Merricks General Store. Alternatively a day in my studio also comes close to perfect!


Anything that you are loving at the moment that you would like to share with us?

I’m loving a new colour palette that I’ve created in vibrant pinks, raspberry, delicious apricots, peaches, melons, sage and olive green and a touch of soft earthy tones. I have created over 20 colour filled floral paintings now using this palette and I love it. 

I’m also enjoying the ABC iView program ‘Great Southern Landscapes’ presented by Rachel Griffiths where she takes you on a journey into the story behind an iconic Australian landscape painting and actually visits the location in the painting. 


What are your artistic (and other) goals for the future?

I absolutely love portraiture but for now it is on the backburner, someday soon I intend picking that up and entering the Archibald Prize!

I am at a place in life where I’m really happy so I believe that I infuse my art with positive energy that I think you can see in my artworks.

For now, I always have a head full of ideas and see the future of my artistic journey is to keep transferring these ideas onto canvas bringing the happiness of nature and colour into our homes.


What can we expect for your art collection this year?

More flowers and more landscapes in happy colours! I wish I could paint faster as I have a head full of ideas.


Want to see more of Jen Shewrings art, head to The Block Shop here.


This season The Block Shop and Artist Lane are giving away an artwork every week, enter here.