jennifer hannaford underwater art

Do you ever spend hours and hours on Instagram, looking at incredible art all over the world? If you do you are just like me. Art fascinates me and artists’ talents inspire me. When I saw Jennifer Hannaford’s painting of an underwater girl, the blues and the reds mesmerized me. I knew I had to get in touch with her and learn more about her art.

Underwater Girl
Pew! Pew! Pew!

What is your background? Highlight those aspects of your cultural background that make you and your work unique, with bonus points if you can tie your life experiences to your artwork.

I am a forensic scientist. My main discipline involves the recovery of latent friction ridge detail from evidence/crime scenes and the comparison of those recovered prints to known subjects to establish associations in criminal cases. I have been in the field of forensics for approximately twenty-five years. I am currently working as a consultant in forensics. However, I plan to become a full-time artist and will be looking for gallery representation in New York this year.

I am a California girl, born and raised. I grew up in the water. My fondest memories are summers with hours, from sun up until late into the night, in or around streams, lakes, oceans or pools. Around the age of 30, while still in CA, I was teaching my young niece how to swim.

As she swam toward me, in a red swimsuit against an amazing blue backdrop with hair wildly suspended and bubbles blowing, I thought, I will paint underwater art someday. I did not start taking painting lessons for another 13 years. When I moved to NYC, I made the time to take art classes in Brooklyn for four hours each week for a year and a half. I started getting serious about painting in 2013. I have been blessed to have this experience continue to grow.

Underwater Girl
The Power of One

What does your work aim to say?

I do strive to capture a “moment”. Nothing says a moment like a bubble. A moment is also conveyed in the ephemeral shape of light through water. Our underwater journey may only be experienced in short spans when swimming freely, and the rapid change of light on the landscape of skin is a special vision to stop in time.

Right now, I think I am in such a phase of development, I am asking my work to maintain a dialogue with me. I have broken from painting so tightly to allowing myself to make mistakes or, even more so, experiment. This experimentation involves color choice, texture, and surface treatment. I think the surface and color structure of painting can communicate as much as the picture and should evoke a feeling when explored in person and up close.

Underwater Girl Bubbles
Blue Crown

Who are your biggest influencers?

Frank Oriti, Monet, Jenny Saville, Chuck Close, Daniel Sprick, Lucian Freud, Alyssa Monks, Pamela Wilson, Kelly Reemsten.

Underwater Girl bubbles
Ritz-Carlton Lake House

Maybe there’s a particular artist that inspired you to become an artist in the first place, or perhaps there is a palette of artists’ works that you look to for your influences?

I had the innate need to create from before I can remember. It was an activity that, as a youth, I felt almost compelled to do. An academic and working career in forensics started in my early twenties, and I did not pick up a drawing instrument for another fifteen years. A career in forensic science was the safe path, though I had wished to pursue art.

It was a force so strong in me, I kept saying “Once I am settled, I will fully devote myself to my art.” However, that time never really came, until my forties. Once the activities were truly set in motion, my path took on a life of its own.

I am never stuck on one artist, and there are so many I am influenced by. Most are not famous, yet they are creating art that, in my mind, shatters boundaries. I access these artists through social media formats. What a time we live in. Art available at our fingertips. We are not confined to the galleries and walls filled with work curated by others. I get to choose my own creative galleries with which to be inspired.

Underwater Girl Red Lips
Reminded of Self

How do you work? Every artist has their own unique style of working to bring out their creativity in their work. Every artist follows their own set of guidelines and procedure to do their work. Tell us about yours.

I am a pretty disciplined worker. I usually paint 40 hours a week when fully engaged in my work. On my off hours, I may be viewing instructional videos or reading up on techniques. I am very much trying to get away from protocols or highly scripted habits of working. Forensic scientists are practitioners who work in environments that are protocol driven, call for pretty strict guidelines and perfection. I am trying to get out of that mindset. Nothing I am working on is so precious that I cannot get a little crazy with the paint or texture. Maybe it will work, maybe it will not… but nothing exciting will happen in the development of my art without growth. So, a good dose of fearlessness is a guiding force. Anything can be “fixed” or reworked.

Corner of Jennifer’s world

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio

Good light and a great podcast! Typically “Risk!”

Underwater Girl
Sold! “Waters of Lake Tahoe”

Have you met any challenges associated with pursuing your career as an artist? If you did, how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle has been me. I had preconceived notions about the possibilities of survival are for an artist in this world. Perhaps these glass half empty notions continue to leave me pleasantly surprised. I am a hard working individual, I have brought that to my efforts as an artist and it seems to be happening. I am going to continue to take risks and put the time in.

Underwater Girl
Ritz-Carlton Lake House

What keeps you going and why do you what you do? What’s your dream goal with your art?

The more I learn about art, the more my dream goal becomes a moving target. This has proven to be a great experience, as I am looking for no concrete endpoint of a specific protocol to follow, unlike my previous vocation.

Underwater Art
When you purchase from your art ships for free!


What advice do you have for young artists reading this interview?

Be fearless. Reach out to artists, galleries, and mentors and accept rejection as part of your growth. Learn from the people you encounter, but remember that no one is a complete authority on what art is. You can carve your own process and style, something that is uniquely you. Once you have traction, mentor someone else.

Underwater Girl

Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.

Gosh… I need to think on that. Usually, the biggest thing people do not know about me is that I have always wanted to immerse myself in the world of art.

Maybe it is that I am a nerd and combined my fingerprints with art to create vintage mugshots with ink we use to fingerprint people when they are arrested.

Underwater Girl
Underwater Girls

Any upcoming art shows or gallery exhibitions? If yes, what are the locations and dates?

Adelman Fine Art in San Diego,, and Graphite Gallery in New Orleans.

For upcoming shows, please see upcoming shows.

Website –
Facebook- Jennifer Hannaford Artist
Instagram – JenniferHannaford



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