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Work Samples

starling

This lonely young European Starling is created using my sewing machine in a free stitch mode. I begin with an ink drawing. I have to be as confident as I can and be able to make adjustments without erasing. I then draw it with a fabric marker on canvas and then I use the lines as a guide to draw the starling.

Sketch and Thread Drawn and felt applique' translation

Sketch and Thread Drawn and felt applique' translation of Clover and Dandelion design.

Making Trump's face

How I thread draw each Trump face!

Installation View

View of The Shooting Gallery installation, Bird and Anthropocene Exhibit at the Peale Museum, October 2017, Baltimore, MD. Photo by Joseph Hyde

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About Jennifer

Baltimore City

Jennifer McBrien is a Baltimore native who began her artistic career as a painter, exhibiting her work throughout the East Coast from the mid 80’s to mid 2000’s. During this time, she received two Baltimore City Arts Grants and a Maryland State Individual Artist Award in painting in 2005. As the pressures of teaching and heading a high school art department increased, her concentration for painting, as well as her time she could spend painting, began to dwindle. She needed an... more

"The Genealogy of My Imaginary Family"

In The Genealogy of My Imaginary Family, I selected a variety of native birds that range from the familiar to the extirpated breeds from Maryland. I wanted them to feel like family portraits, arranged to create a narrative of subtle expressive reactions and silent dialogue. Each portrait is created freehand on the sewing machine. Drawing each mark, value and detail by manipulating the canvas under the moving needle. Each has a final result of a line drawing but with a more labor intensive method that I chose as a dedication towards their preservation.

  • The Genealogy of my Imaginary Family"

    Preliminary arrangement of "The Genealogy of My Imaginary Family" for the "Birdland and Anthropocene show at the The Peale Centre in Baltimore, Md., October 2017.
  • Ruff

    "Ruff" , 14" Embroidery Hoop, Freehand Machine Embroidery
  • Ruff detail

    Close up view of Ruff.
  • Starling

    "Starling" , 12" Embroidery Hoop, Freehand Machine Embroidery
  • Fish Crow

    "Fish Crow" , 12" Embroidery Hoop, Freehand Machine Embroidery
  • Burrow Owl

    "Burrow Owl" , 10" Embroidery Hoop, Freehand Machine Embroidery
  • Eurasian Kestral

    "Eurasian Kestral" , 12" Embroidery Hoop, Freehand Machine Embroidery
  • Great Prairie Chicken

    Freehand machined embroidery on canvas in a 8" embroidery hoop
  • Great Blue Heron

    Freehand Machine Embroidery on canvas in 12" embroidery hoop.
  • gallery view

    Gallery view of the Installation in the Peale Centre . Piece was arranged and installed in the white case. Photo by Joe Hyde.

Edible Plants and Mid-Century Designs

A series of felt applique and freehand machine embroidered edible plant and mid-century influenced designs . All designs begin with watercolor and ink drawing studies from observation and researched references. I gravitate towards the edible plants commonly mistaken as weeds, such as dandelions, purslane, and thistle. The midcentury influence is not only a happy childhood memory, but also an overjoyed observer of today's modern trend. This past March, I underwent a knee replacement, held captive in my living room, I created these designs as a reaction to a missing design element in my living room.

Not for the Shooting Gallery

Not for the Shooting Gallery was part of the Birdland and Anthropocene at the Peale Museum, Baltimore, Md. Curated by Baker Awardee Lynn Parks. In this exhibit:

Parks invites us to consider how our city’s architecture and the built environment impact the natural ecosystems in the Anthropocene, the new geological era in which human activity has dramatically altered the Earth through climate change and other influences.
Some of the artists in the show examine ornithology, the scientific study of birds—some play with the methods involved. How do we use the technological advances we’ve made at a cost to the natural world in order to save it? How do we imitate birds and what does it reveal about our perception of them? How does extinction disclose domination and exploitation in political systems? How are birds as symbols used in these narratives?"

In Not for the Shooting Gallery, I created stuffed birds to be somewhat of a hybrid of the stuffed animals (like the ones you win when winning a game at a carnival) with a stuffed replica. Subjects were selected by either their popularity or their un-popularity. Made of wool blend felt, recycled poly filled stuffing and freehand machine stitched detailed and wire feet. I arranged them in the cabinet as a diorama to give it more of a mobile theater setting. My objective for both this project , as well as the Genealogy of My Imaginary Family, was to humanize each bird. Give them a personality that feels just as human as bird-like. A straight look in their eyes and you must take them to heart.

  • Installation View

    View of The Shooting Gallery installation, Bird and Anthropocene Exhibit at the Peale Museum, October 2017, Baltimore, MD. Photo by Joseph Hyde
  • Not for the Shooting Gallery

    Close up shot of entire installation.
  • Peacock

    Constructed with felt, wire and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Owl

    Constructed with felt, cut feathers and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Pigeon

    Pigeon constructed with felt , thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill and wire legs and feet.
  • Eared Grebe

    Constructed with felt, cut feathers and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Cardinals

    Constructed with felt, cut feathers and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Clack Capped Sparrows

    Constructed with felt, cut feathers and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Puffin

    Constructed with felt, cut feathers and thread drawn details, stuffed with recycled polyfill.
  • Boxed for Installation

    Boxed up and in transit to the Peale Museum Box contains all birds that were installed and part of "Not for the Shooting Gallery".

Bird Drawings with Function

Bird Drawings are created by thread drawing and then appliqued onto handmade hand bags, pillows and wall-hangings. I started this series to prove that I could draw as well as my seriousness for being a birder. I sell these as part of my craft business: jennyjen42, which I have established and grown over the past decade. This year marks my first year as a retired high school art teacher, to be a full-time business person, designer and manufacturer while remaining true to my artistic dedication.

  • Carolina Wren Messenger Bag

    Freehand Machine stitched Carolina wren on handmade messenger bag, featuring canvas construction, stiff interfacing for durability, designer fabrics for exterior pattern and interior lining, zipper and accessory pockets, magnetic closure and adjustable strap with stainless still hardware. Photo by owner Leslie Miller.
  • owl messenger bag

    Freehand Machine Stitched owl, appliqué on canvas and decor fabric front of handmade messenger bag, featuring lined cotton interior with zipper and accessory pockets, adjustable strap with stainless steel hardware and heavy duty canvas construction.
  • Bunny Hawk

    Freehand machine stitched bunny hawk and landscape.
  • Bird Scene Wallhanging

    Freehand Machine stitched trees and birds on cotton.
  • Baltimore Oriole Pillow

    Freehand Machine stitched oriole and tree with branch. Decor cotton handmade pillow form.
  • Pink Flamingo Pillow

    Freehand Machine Stitched flamingo in scene, cotton pillow form.
  • Brown Pelican Pillow

    Freehand machine stitched brown pelican on cotton, stitched on legal paper patterned fabric. Handmade pillow form
  • Tree Swallow and Screech Owl Tote Bags

    Freehand Machine Stitched birds on cotton, appliqué and reinforced stitched onto hand made tote made of recycled curtain material and decor fabric.
  • Pink Flamingo Tote

    Freehand Machine stitched pink flamingo appliqués onto a handmade tote created with recycled curtain materials and barkcloth.
  • JennyJen42 TeaserVideo Final

    Video promoting my jennyjen42 business with demonstration of freehand machine drawing.Video by Ryan Twentey , music by Ryley Walker.

A Bird a Day

Part of the Art a day project here in Baltimore. I completed this series of 31 birds, one created each day in the month of January 2015. Each bird is created by freehand Machine stitching, and then appliqué on decor fabric, stretched on wood panels. Size of each 6" square. This series was part of the Art a Day exhibit at Gallery 788 in Hampden.

  • stitched birds for January

    Completed series : 31 birds, one created each day in the month of January, 2015. Each bird is created by freehand Machine stitching, and then appliqué on decor fabric, stretched on wood panels. Size of each 6" square.
  • Belted Kingfisher

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • tree swallow

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Wood Stork

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Red Billed Pigeon

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Carolina Wren.

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Cooper's Hawk

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Baltimore Oriole

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Dark Eyed Junco

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,
  • Eastern Screech Owl

    Freehand Machine stitched bird on cotton, appliqués on decor fabric, stretched on wood panel, 6" square, 2015,

Pussy Bites Back

I needed a way to express my current distaste for today's political current. I started with making catnip toys in the image of Trump, Shirtless Putin, Kelly Ann Conway, Betsy Devos, and Mitch McConell. Selling these at several craft shows throughout the East coast I have started several conversations that have clarified that I am not alone in my feelings for this administration. I then had to add a VOODOO doll and protest banners! All works have freehand machine stitched facial features, and made of felt. These have become one of my best sellers this year!

Playing with Felt like I did when I was a kid

When I first started playing around with felt and sewing , instead of painting, I began with this bird obsession. An obsession that started when I moved to Original Northwood in Baltimore. I had moved from the Copy Cat Building on Guilford, and before that Fells Point. I was rejuvenated with the smell of cut grass in the spring and summer, the leaves of fall and a new awareness of the birds of that area. I had a mulberry tree in my backyard that would host plenty of bird parties once the berries became ripe and then fermented. I began to feel like a kid again with the energy of my childhood memories and I started to play with felt. Cutting out these bird narratives that I saw outside my window. The felt reminded me of the felt board of my elementary teachers and the material we would cut and make into bean bags and ornaments. The birds I started to cut were right from my childhood memories. And yes, my influence by Charley Harper! I found a tremendous love of this material and started to make a series of narrative pillows. My first jump from my then current frustrations of being a painter. These pillows are an example of my first pillows and their progression to my current designs. You will notice in the Hummingbird pillow how I have started to incorporate my thread drawing on the felt. The last owl pillow and sculptures illustrate how I’ve progressed to make the felt birds more dimensional by incorporating relief feathers and details. I used this relief method and felt construction to make the Magpie costumes and owl masks as well.

  • Magpie costumes and Owl mask

    For the closing of the Birdland and Anthropocene exhibit, I made 2 magpie costumes and an Owl mask for my friend for the costume party. All made form felt construction. Photo by Gregory Dobler
  • Owl Sculptures

    After creating my sculptures for "Not for the Shooting Gallery", I began to play more with felt constructions. These owls show a progression from drawing details to making relief details.
  • Hummingbirds on Barkcloth

    Felt appliqué birds with freehand machine stitched details on vintage barkcloth
  • Owl on Barkcloth

    felt owl on barkcloth, 18' square
  • The Birdbath

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.
  • The Weathervane

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.
  • On the Clothesline

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.
  • Cardinal in Spring

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.
  • Baltimore Orioles Pillow

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.
  • Wyman Park Scene

    Felt appliqué birds on canvas with freehand machine stitched details.

Looking through the Lines

My exploration of overlaying lines began in the early nineties. I loved how David Salle made us look through images to discover a new dialoged. I also was highly influenced by his use of juxtaposition. In these early paintings, I was doing a lot of soul searching and reaching out for my vocabulary. Borrowing most images from childhood textbooks and found imagery. I would project and play with textures, overlaying images and color. I loved painting the projected line. I found it to be quite meditative even when labor intensive. I used this technique through most of my painting career. Finding many similarities in my fiber work. Drawing the traced line, overlaying the lines over the pattern and color shapes of fabric and felt.

Figures in paint, line and threads

This is an ever changing and constant artistic pursuit of mine. To draw, paint, and sew the figure to express something. Or honestly, not to express anything. When I started my artisitic career I had found the figure to be the best vehicle to tell my story. Since then I have moved on to the natural world, but not completely leaving the figure out of my vocabulary. I periodically sign up for MICA's continuing Studies figure drawing sessions to keep my drawing in practice. I have then taken these drawings to complete a sketchbook for the sketchbook project in Brooklyn that includes figures in space as well as use my thread drawing techique to also draw the figure. I've played around with settings and patterns with these figures.

Craving for Nostalgia

A selection of works that reflect my desire to hang on to nostalgia, the unwanted, the ignored. This selection of works range from one of my sketchbooks for the sketchbook project titled "Stitches and Folds", as well as my interest in water towers, telephone poles and clotheslines.