Artists Sharing Artists: Nikolina Kovalenko

I met Nikolina when I was an artist in residence in Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland. We spent a month there being simply wowed by the natural beauty of eastern Iceland. Nika created an amazing series of monochromatic paintings on aluminum panels in lighting speed all inspired by the landscape, waterfalls and bits of nature she found while hiking. She even attempted to learn a little Icelandic, while I was happy to be able to pronounce the name of our town correctly. You can see her works from Iceland here.

We stayed in touch over the years and I watched her paint her way through a South American backpacking trip with adorable alpacas and vast landscapes. She then launched into her current series of work, Utopian Reefs after becoming a certified scuba diver. She uses her art as a vehicle to educate and inspire others to protect the planet. I love following along with her travels, her art and her contagious optimism on life, so I had to share with you all.

Red Coral Reign | oil on canvas | 54″ x 80″ | 2020

Nika’s work stems from an interest in humanity’s psychological connection with Nature and strives to expose the consequences our everyday actions have on the environment. Her subjects range from global warming, deforestation and coral bleaching, to processing and interpreting visual landscape and cultural associations.

Learn more about her process and concepts for her latest series Utopian Reefs:

To add her work to your collection visit: or follow her on IG at @nikolinakovalenko

Artists Sharing Artists: is a series of posts where I share some of my favorite artists who are also inspired by nature and use their art to protect what they love. More artists coming soon…

Art + Computer Science

So many of you have complimented my website over the years and I can not take responsibility for it’s beauty and functionality, I owe that to Priscilla Cinque’s amazing talents. Her artful eye and incredible attention to detail has made mine and many others websites simply shine. And when something breaks (usually me touching something I shouldn’t of!), she’s the first one I contact to patiently help me fix it – seriously don’t know what I’d do without her!

So, when she FINALLY made a website for her own creative endeavors, I knew I needed to share it with y’all!

a sample from the ‘down to earth’ collection

Please follow the link below to explore the (of course!) beautifully designed brand new site that showcases Priscilla’s botanical illustrations, photo realistic objects and painstaking line drawings. As I have no patience or talent for creating this kind of detail, I am always impressed when I see these pieces emerge from her home studio. I’m so happy to see her sharing her artwork with everyone now. Please enjoy…

Priscilla Shih Cinque: meditations on form, color, light and shadow

Selling AND Buying Art at Open Studios

I was so fortunate to have many pieces of art find new happy homes during Open Studios Art Tour this year. Thank you so much to all of you who put your money where you mouth is and supported your local artists!

Selling AND Buying Art at Open Studios | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculptureWhen you are a participating artist in the tour it’s really hard to make your way around to see other artists studios but this year, my husband and I were able to sneak in a few studio visits one afternoon. While we don’t have the biggest budget to buy art, let alone the space to put it in, we also believe in supporting local artists. So many people think that art is out of their price range so I wanted to share the gems that we bought, all for under $200. Seriously. Under $200.

The koi fish and coral original painting was done by muralist Elijah Pfotenhauer, the rabbit print was done by muralist Taylor Reinhold and the small bowl was done by ceramic artist Liz Crain. I love the color and energy that each of these pieces add to my collection of local and global artists.

What did you collect this year at Open Studios?

Studio Visit: Kristen O’Neill

On our road trip to Portland last week, we were very focused on everything clay. And with a billion ceramic themed exhibitions happening concurrently with the NCECA conference, it was hard to imagine seeing anything but clay. But, we did take a side trip and visited my sister-in-law, Kristen O’Neill at her studio in Grants Pass Oregon.

Studio Visit: Kristen O'Neill | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

There was no clay to be found in her studio, but there was lots of inspiration and color. Her work is bold, with broad brush stokes and no hesitance of movement, yet it’s calming and familiar with a soft earthy palette that makes you really feel a space. And as calming as her paintings are, I know that she rocks out hard core while getting the paint to the canvas, bringing them to life!

I love that we get to ‘talk art’ when we’re together whether it’s critiquing each others work, encouraging each others endeavors or just geeking out on the SEO status of our art websites. She’s also the Administrative Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator and head of the Open Studios Committee at the Grants Pass Art Museum so I got to take a private tour of the current exhibit with her. So lucky to have artists in the family!

Studio Visit: Kristen O'Neill | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture
Coastal Mountains Near Scott Creek, acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 36″, $800.

“My paintings capture the emotional release, the beauty of the place, and allow you to reconnect to nature and experience your special place on a daily basis. Celebrate your love of nature! Stay close to it. Be able to show other people what you love, and perhaps inspire them to come on that next hike with you. Empower yourself and others.”

To purchase her work, visit her website:

Sharing Art: Liz Crain

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to drop in on artist Liz Crain and pick up a few of her ceramic pieces. We got to talking about clay, art marketing, upcoming exhibits and other artsy talk. It’s always great to touch base with other artists who are struggling with the same things you are and to celebrate in each others successes as well.

One can of Whup Ass and two shot up beer cans that appear to be made of rusting metal are actually hand built from clay. I got these pieces with the intention of gifting them but I have to say, I’m going to have a hard time letting these guys go.

sharing art: Liz Crain | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

More about Liz’s work…
Liz makes fool-the-eye ceramic pieces which seem like vintage, rusty, dented cans. Tea Cans, Canisters, Spice Tins and Beer Cans, all meant to be more than meets the eye. Visit her website and online shop to pick out your own pieces!

South County Artists for Open Studios

I keep asking you all to come to MY studio for Open Studios this year, but while you’re out there, here are a few of my favorite clay and sculpture artists in the South County area to check out too! See you this weekend!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | South County Artists for Open Studios

Adon Valenziano Artist #162 Mixed Media Sculptures and Mobiles

Wendy Ballen Artist #203 Wire Sculpture

Liz Crain Artist #207 Handbuilt Ceramic Vessels

Elaine Pinkernell Artist #287 Textured Ceramic Slab Work

Karen Hansen Artist #292 Handbuilt Ceramic Sculpture

So get your guide, make your plan, hit the studios and BUY ART this weekend!

Need more info:

artists supporting artists

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | artists supporting artists


One of the best things about being an artist is that you get to know a lot of other talented artists in your community and sometimes you get to trade or buy work from each other. I have work from a number of Santa Cruz based artists in my collection that I love and I’ve realized that they are some of the most valuable things I own. This weekend, I got to install my friend and favorite artist, Susana Arias‘ work in my home. This wood fired ceramic oar above my front window is over 8’ long and looks as if it has been unearthed from the depths of the ocean. I’ve been so in love with these pieces from her Sailmaker series since I first laid eyes on them, so excited to finally have one of my own!





Good Life Ceramics

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | blogWelcome Good Life Ceramics!

A new ceramic studio and gallery has just arrived in Santa Cruz and its looking beautiful! The studio will cater to professionals and beginners alike as well as showcasing some of the most talented ceramic artists in the area (I’m so lucky to be included among them!) in the Slip Away Gallery. Pieces from my Nest Series are currently on display in the gallery. The best surprise after setting up the work was the amazing shadows they cast on the wall of the gallery. I’m honored to be showing my work alongside Liz Crain, Gail Ritchie, Sylvia Rios, Yumiko Aso, Sam Clarkson, Karen Hansen, Elaine Pinkernell and more to come. Come by, visit the gallery and add some new art to your collection.



Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | blogOwner John Albrecht along with Jasper Marino and Tom Watson hope “To enlighten and nurture the creative confidence inherent in all” with this new creative space. Join them in celebrating creativity by visiting  the studio at:

Good Life Ceramics
3717 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
831-515-7560, or Facebook