The art of Jaz Kelber is fanciful, cheerful and often incorporates her own hand-lettered inspirational sayings. Her one-man show hangs at the dining area in Whole Foods, and it’s so diverse you wouldn’t think it was from just one person, let alone an 11-year-old.
I sat down with Kelber at Whole Foods to ask her more about her show and creative process.
“I enter a lot of contests,” says Kelber. “Most of the contests I’ve entered are about water, how to save water. So then my inspiration comes from water and ocean themes. But I really like underwater features. There are some challenges in drawing underwater features. You can have fun with them too.”
There’s a big poster that won first place in the Share the Aloha poster contest Maui Memorial Hospital, and the original hangs at Hospital. Kelber says the drawing process isn’t always smooth.
“The challenges with underwater scenes are they’re hard to draw them like you see them in your head,” says Kelber. “And it’s hard to change them. I think I can’t draw this, but then I do. Sometimes it makes me scream. Then my dad gets mad it me, my dogs run outside. That is how it goes.”
Her dad Jay Kelber figures into part of the creative process, they both keep sketch notebooks and draw, often competing with each other. Jaz motions to her piece, called “Dragon Dreams,” that won second place at the 2014 Maui County Fair.
“My favorite is the dragons,” says Jaz. “I just like the dragons for some reason. They are my favorite color. My dad had this book with these dragons, and he challenged me to draw one. I didn’t know where to start so my dad and I had a contest: who could draw the best dragon. He drew one with a nicer body, but I still won. We added the mini baby dragon later. I didn’t think I could do it, but after I did, I loved it.”
Kelber says she started at age three, and remembers doing a lot more “scribble scrabble” now that she’s older she does a lot more detail work, and knows how to use color. When she thinks of an artist that she aspires to, she mentions her aunt.
“My Aunty May is really good,” says Jaz. “I saw this picture of me that she made, and I was like, wow! She uses oil paints. Her style is very realistic. I love her work.”
For her own creative style, she turns a lot to the Internet to look images and pictures for inspiration. But many elements just come out of her brain, like these little round fish that show up in a lot of her underwater scenes.
“Sometimes an idea just pops in my head, like those circle fish,” says Jaz. “I made those up. They popped into my head and then I did a fast sketch.”
One of the images she found online showed a pod of dolphins. From this she created a pen drawing of the pod. She says it was tough, but the drawing won first place in the Maui County Water Conservation Poster Contest in 2012.
“The dolphins I drew out of a photograph, says Jaz. “It was the second most challenging thing I have drawn. Trying to look at a photograph and transfer that. Now I have more detail and more ideas. I know how to use color better.”
Mostly, Jaz uses paints and pen and ink. She has a series of abstract art photography that she’s been working on recently but her go-to medium is pen and ink. She says she also has a few paintings that you can see, from when she did a workshop class at Sabado Art.
“What I use the most is India ink brush pens,” she says. “The don’t smell. The don’t sink through the paper. You can layer them. Almost all my work is India Ink brush pens. My dad gets them online.”
Jaz says she does a lot of contests, but that’s not the reason she creates art.
“With art, I really put my feeling into it, and just let my hand go and draw it,” says Jaz. “I love that emotion of art.”
You can see Jaz Kelber’s art collection at Whole Foods Maui and also on her website Jazartmaui.com. For any purchase of her art, she donates a portion of the proceeds to charity.