Georgetown and Jealousy – PART 2 (continued from last post)

300Jeannette Lorito PaintsPaints in Jeannette Lorito's studio.

Katie and I climb up the basement stairs and walk back into the small farmhouse living-room where a huge fish wallage hangs – glittering little fish swim out from underneath ribbons of fabric seaweed.  I thank Katie and follow Jeannette up the narrow wooden staircase into her studio. The sun is streaming in through the windows. The white walls and pale blue floors gleam and sparkle and remind me

of the sea. These bright rooms are the most perfect place to paint and draw and be inspired.

301Jeannette Lorito StudioJeannette Lorito's studio.

Before driving out to meet with Jeanette I had browsed her website ( to become more familiar with her and her work. Aside from her wonderful drawings, what captured my attention and imagination was her bio. Her bio is 5 brief sentences and in those concise sentences the reader sees both reality and fantasy. It is like looking through a window into her world.

 “J.Lorito lives in a dark and silly storybook farmhouse with secret passageways, winter trees, ink paintings and an octagon window.

She imagines tangled fairytales, decrepit buildings, black and white photos. There she draws ink houses. Those doors and staircases become the trees, legs and necks of her paintings, plays and poetry…”

I have read many blog posts on how to market yourself and your work online. One suggestion that continually comes up is to tell a story around you and what you do. It needs to captivate the reader so that they want to be a part of that story (hopefully by buying your work). Jeanette seems to have done this effortlessly while I struggle, write and re-write mine trying to make it sound vaguely interesting. After reading Jeannette’s bio I realize that I really need to revisit mine.

302Jeannette LoritoSilly Monster by Jeannette Lorito.

As I look around the sunny studio she tells me more about her writing. She sees writing as a creative activity that partners well with visuals. Working with words and images is a wonderful form of expression and she is thinking about creating books. A terrific example of her partnering words and images is on her website. It is a wonderfully dark poem called “The Shoe Tree.” The words are designed on the pages forcing the readers eyes to wander not just read and it ends with a black and white ink drawing of a gnarled old tree with children holding onto its branches, dangling like fruit. 
303Jeannette Lorito Shoe TreeMake-believe Leaves by Jeannette Lorito – image from

Jeannette writes and paints and draws but also teaches these activities to children, youth and adults. She conducts workshops and camps and gives her students the freedom to explore the media and type of expression that they want. She doesn’t set out a lesson plan, instead she lets the student guide their own learning. It becomes leadership building as well because the older kids will help the younger kids bringing an extra dimension to their experience.

Jeannette’s love for teaching and working with children lead her to organize an arts Education Project called “Raise an Artist: helping us see differently.” The project was a learning exchange between inner-city marginalized children and professional artists with the aim to promote the value of visual arts in education, expression and exploration and pride in product. Some of the children’s work and their thoughts on this program are on Jeannette’s website. Ronesh wrote “I feel kind of nervous or sometimes normal when I make art.” These words are a touching reminder that healing can come through expression. The workshop finished with “Scallywags” an art exhibition of their work in Georgetown.

304Jeannette Lorito Tea RoomIn the tea room. Top: Prey. Bottom, Left to right: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. By Jeannette Lorito.

We walk out of the studio and into the tea room. A wonderful little oddly shaped space with angled ceilings and bright natural light. In her bio Jeannette wrote “in the tea room [Jeannette] meets with writers, actors, painters, filmmakers, musicians and children to create and interpret what they see.” I think of these types of collaborations and then remember the short film that is on Jeannette’s website. It is a strange tale of loneliness about a woman named Violet “who is, at times, prone to grim notions” and who’s friend is a corpse. The music is quirky and a bit forlorn echoing the feeling of the film.

305Jeannette Lorito Pen and inkBy Jeannette Lorito.

The walls in the tea room are adorned with Jeannette’s whimsical ink drawings. A tree branch sprawling across the page in delicate black and white lines catches my attention. I move in closer to see the details. I miss working with pen and ink. Seeing Jeanette’s work is inspiring and I promise myself to revisit this technique.

306Jeannette Lorito somewhere in detroitSomewhere in Detroit by Jeannette Lorito.

It is getting late and I need to head home. We go back down to the living room and I take my last few glimpses of Jeannette’s drawings and the warm surroundings. There is one drawing of a beautiful old wooden home with a red roof. Jeannette’s expressive lines with pen and ink really capture the personality of the weathered old building This knack for drawing structures has led to people to commission her to draw portraits of their homes. 

We say our good-byes and I step back out into the freezing-cold January afternoon. Looking back at the “dark and silly storybook farmhouse with secret passageways” I realize that Jeannette’s description of her home and her life was perfect.

307Jeannette Lorito Camille by Jeannette Lorito.