Jennifer Wan draws from life


Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Wan

Jennifer Wan, a sophomore, is passionate about illustrations and making connections to her emotions through her art.

Adi Bala, Arts Writer

Whether it be extracurriculars, studying for the next big math test or writing an English essay on Ada Limón, sophomore Jennifer Wan has little time to spend on other activities. During precious, in-between moments of respite, she immediately turns her energy to the drawing board, where she begins yet another illustrative piece.

Wan did not start with the hyper-realistic skills she possesses today; like many, a simple passion jump started this adventure. “I began scribbling on walls, tables, picture books, everything ever since I could hold a pen,” she said. “As I grew older, I began understanding and appreciating this capacity for imagination.”

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Wan

During COVID—when time seemed to drag on endlessly and Wan was busy practicing her draftsmanship—she created an Instagram account dedicated to her art,, and has amassed over 400 followers. “I was getting bored of putting it in another sketchbook or my room,” she said. “I decided to create an account to share [my pieces] with a wider audience and garner feedback I could improve with.”

During this period, she did not have to worry about the direct influences of school life, and instead diverted her attention to the nature around her. She observed specific ambient elements before rendering a piece: color, lighting, and details, for instance. “My subjects often include animals, scenery, and the objects close to me,” Wan said.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Wan

The main inspiration? Galleries. Though art museums have taken a huge hit from the pandemic, Wan makes a point to absorb and learn from the works of established painters. Contemporary and modern artists, though they present a different style than what she works in, are a main focus of study. “Potential for abstraction and metaphors is extremely important to me,” she said. “That way, I can draw inspiration from both the environment and my emotions.”

Equally important as the final product is the process. “I can grow as a human through the development of a piece, along with the incorporated ideas themselves,” she explained. “It can be hard to have so many concepts and scrap them for the next one all the time, but each one—finished or not—affects me.”

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Wan

The abstraction she sees in galleries and complex emotions associated with the art making process became very important to her as time went on. “I’m already thinking about experimenting with increasingly conceptual designs in the future, and I think I’ve started to do that in some capacity,” Wan said. She cited this as the reason her desire for expression through art is so deep. 

“Though my work is mostly realistic, the beauty of art and its elements allow anyone to take any interpretation from it—when I come across people who see my art with a different lens than I intended when creating the image, it just makes me happy,” Wan said.