Charleston Creatives: Artist Jordan Connelly

February 3, 2020

One of the greatest things about working with local Charleston artists is getting the chance to develop artwork that is super personal and unique. This week’s featured Charleston creative is artist Jordan Connelly. Every time I see Jordan’s artwork, it puts a smile on my face. I love her use of soft soothing colors. She captures memories and creates timeless art.

When I received the painting of Harper and I dancing on Folly Beach, I couldn’t help but cry. I felt so many emotions. He’s growing up way too fast. I am so glad we captured this moment in time. I am going to cherish this for years and years and years. Every mama needs a painting of them with their babies.

Jordan came to Charleston to study studio art at the College of Charleston and lives in Denver now, but she’s still one of my favorite Lowcountry artists, so we chatted a bit about her art and her favorite places in Charleston and Colorado!

How would you describe your art style?

Nature fuels my soul. I love capturing that emotion through color, movement, and light in my brushwork. I’m always challenging myself to evolve as an artist, but I would describe my style as colorful impressionism.

What got you started in creating art?

I was never fortunate enough to meet my maternal grandmother, but I was able to connect with her through her art. She created the most beautiful watercolor pieces that we had scattered through my childhood home, and as a child they inspired me to paint. I still have some of her pastels and watercolors in their original tin boxes sitting in my studio.

My parents are also art collectors, so my brother and I grew up going to galleries with them. The owner of a fabulous gallery in Raleigh used to give us mat board and pencils to entertain us on a little table in the back of the gallery. I continued creating pieces through high school and ultimately majored in studio art at the College of Charleston.

Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?

I truly believe I can find inspiration for my pieces in anything. There is always a splash of unexpected color on an object or its shadow or its background. There are definitely subjects that take a little longer than others to elicit inspiration, but I always try to search for the beauty in everything. 

Nature is one subject that will always inspire me and what really gets my heart yearning to paint. I can’t look at anything outside without thinking about how I want to present it on canvas. Maybe I’m a softy, but the ocean, marsh, river, and mountains regularly make me choked up. Nature and love are my favorite gifts, and art is one way I won’t ever take them for granted.

A major focus for me currently is using my art to give back. This goal also serves as an inspiration and motivation to me.

Do you have a favorite piece of art you’ve done or a motif you particularly enjoy painting?

Last year my favorite painting probably looked quite a bit different than my favorite painting from this year, but there are four that come to mind.

The first is a portrait I did of my kids for my husband’s Christmas gift. My absolute favorite gift to give it art. It’s so personalized and full of love. Another favorite is a large 48×48” piece I just created for a family in Wilmington of their sweet little boy wading in the water. I have waded in the same waters thousands of times, and it’s one of the happiest places I have ever been. I was able to paint meaningfully from memory as well as the photograph they provided.

Some other favorites were two pieces I created for my friends Sarah and Megan. These were both painted in the beginning of what turned into my career as an artist. I attribute a large part of my courage to turn my love for art into a career to their encouragement and belief in me.

What was the art scene like in Charleston?

I truly feel Charleston breeds such a uniquely talented group of artists, and they constantly inspire me. The Spoleto Festival can’t be missed. What I know about the art scene in Charleston now is largely remote, but I do stay involved as much as I can. I love that social media has become such a communication facilitator, and it has certainly helped me connect with other Charleston artists for collaboration, advice, and encouragement.

What’s one tip you would give to people looking to decorate with art in their living spaces?

I personally think art really makes a room. It’s that perfect touch that brings color, life, and joy to a living space. Take the time to find art that speaks to your soul. You will definitely find that piece that you can’t take your eyes off of, that makes you so happy, that inspires you, that brings back memories, that motivates you to make new memories, and that makes you want to soak every ounce of life out of life.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

For me it’s turning a passion into a business. I always check in with myself to make sure I’m being true to my passion and goals, and not just doing things that I think people will like. Of course I hope that people will love my work, but I want to make sure that my motivation is not driven by the number of likes I get. Learning how to run a business is very hard, and I’m still learning, but it’s definitely worth the challenge.

What brought you to Denver? What one “must-do” would you recommend to anyone visiting?

I initially moved to Denver for outdoor adventure and nursing school. I didn’t plan to stay very long, but I met my husband here and we love our crazy life here. We will eventually move back to the Carolinas but are soaking in everything Colorado has to offer first.

You absolutely have to go see a concert at Redrocks. It is pure magic. If you are visiting in the summer, go to Telluride Bluegrass Festival. If you’re here in the winter, skiing is a must. Vail is amazing, but the backside of Keystone is really fun. There’s a great speakeasy in Denver called the B&GC Denver, and Mercantile is a delicious restaurant in Union Station downtown. Catch a Rockies baseball game, too, if you have time!

For the adventurous type, my favorite adventure here was when my husband and I drove down to Silverton, took the train headed towards Durango, hopped off halfway, and hiked into the Weminuche Wilderness area for five days. We climbed up 14,000+ foot peaks and hung out with mountain goats.

Local Love

Best pizza place in Charleston? In college, my favorites were Norm’s Pizza and Gilroy’s. Norm’s bluegrass band nights were an instant attraction for me! My current favorites would be Monza and Indaco.

Favorite art gallery in Charleston? This isn’t an art gallery, but the Gibbes Museum is so nice. When I studied at College of Charleston, we would sit on the benches in the museum with our sketchbooks and study the beautiful pieces there.

Favorite place for a date night in CHS? I absolutely adore 167 Raw; I’m drooling thinking about it. If I was only in town for one night and really wanted to “do it up,” I would go out on the Schooner Pride for a cocktail, then have cheese at Bin 152, and then dinner at Husk. For a low key night, I would spend the day at either Sullivan’s or Folly and then finish it up with some bluegrass and snacks at Home Team BBW or Bowen’s Island. I’m all about the ambiance!

Best brunch in Charleston? I have to go with Poogan’s Porch. The food is classically Southern, and I have so many memories there. Apparently I fell out of my highchair there as an infant because I was having too much fun.

Charleston tourist activity that’s worth the hype? Paddleboarding in Shem Creek and the Schooner Pride

Favorite local shop in Charleston? There are a million fantastic places to shop, but I love Beckett Boutique, Copper Penny, Monkees, and Hampden Clothing.

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