A local artist finds inspiration in the natural beauty of the Gem State.
By Ryon Morrin
Photos by Kimberlee Miller
Jennie Kilcup is an incredible Idaho watercolor artist. You can see her captivating paintings in shops everywhere from Sun Valley to Boise.
Homeschooled as a child, she spent a majority of her time outside in the wilderness of Ketchum, Idaho. From a very young age she had an observable gift for all things artistic; creations on paper of various subjects served as evidence of her natural abilities.
Kilcup’s mother enrolled her in extracurricular courses to supplement her home-based education. At the age of 8, she began watercolor painting under the guidance of a locally-renowned instructor. From the start, her teacher recognized the skill she has with a paintbrush in hand. As a result, she was immediately placed into the adult-level class while simultaneously attending with similarly-aged peers.
Kilcup continued painting until the age of twelve, when her teacher made the switch to a public school. She admits that she felt slightly jilted after she left. She stopped painting because she felt like she was treated unfairly, picking up brushes only occasionally as well as during elective college courses.
After earning her degree in Northern Idaho, Kilcup and her husband made the move to Boise to take advantage of employment opportunities. She soon came to the realization that it wasn’t her true passion. Three years ago, while contemplating her next move, she started an Instagram page where she showcased her rediscovered love of painting. Initially, her followers were just friends and family, but her page grew to a level she says she never could have imagined. Kilcup’s account not only gained followers, but has been promoted by big time art accounts on the social media platform.
Along with followers and increased exposure came customers interested in purchasing original works of art as well as commissions. In her own words, “it blew my expectations out of the water.” She hadn’t been actively promoting her artwork, and it turns out she didn’t need to. Kilcup took the opportunity and ran, turning her gift with paints into a business.
Kilcup’s paintings focus on the natural beauty of the pacific northwest, something she attributes to her upbringing in a town where nature is an integral part of life. Landscapes with lush scenery as well as the critters that reside there are her subjects of choice. When asked why she opts to leave white space behind subjects, she stated that she appreciates the simplicity it creates. As a resident of Boise who truly loves the City of Trees, Kilcup has also put her brush to the task of recreating iconic, locally-valued landmarks such as Table Rock, the Train Depot, and the Capitol. Her appreciation of Boise is rooted not only in its beauty but in the unwritten mantra of “community over competition” that sets it apart from art scenes in bigger cities. She is thankful that Treasure Valley artists have been welcoming and supportive, offering help and guidance whenever possible.
If you’d like to see her watercolor paintings in person, and have the opportunity to buy one, visit her website at www.mrskilcup.com for a list of Boise businesses that have her work on display. You can also purchase original works as well as contact her regarding commissions through the online shop.