Fun and Free with Penelope
by Cate Murway
“They’re gonna get paint on them. I don’t want them to think about being careful. I want it to be fun and free.”
Meet Jina Dierolf. She IS Penelope Fox Art.
Jina’s location in the Grundy Commons Complex [look for the Bucks County iconic clock tower!] is currently just a working studio but she has powerful plans for art shows in the future.
Her 2-hour classes engage and inspire the budding artists from the ages of 5 through 10 years. She effectively teaches art with age-appropriate techniques, fostering the children’s innovative spirit while developing and showcasing their creativity.
Creativity is latent within each of us, but for some, it needs to be awakened.
One way of bringing it to the surface is to force a change of thinking habits.
As a 4th grade St. Ann School student, Jina was introduced to art in a weekly class. She learned the basic rules of art and was taught an observational skill to look at art in a different way.
Art is everywhere. Looking at a bicycle seat and deciding whether it is art “opened my mind to different possibilities.” She and her class learned to look at ordinary objects in different ways.
“I found a freedom in that and it excited me!”
Jina is the younger of the two daughters born to Borough residents, Madelyn “Lyn” and Stephen Edwin “Steve” Dierolf, a painting contractor. She has a creative family background including musicians and photographers. Her late grandparents, Ronald R. and Mary [Gogliotti] Dierolf were the proprietors of Dierolf & Sons Inc. and they resided in Bristol as well.
Jina’s maternal grandmother, Catherine Lucy Ciotti, the widow of Fred Raymond Ciotti still makes Bristol Borough her home. Her Aunt Catherine “Cathy” Harding recalls the energetic Jina as a youth “doing cartwheels from our front door to the back door”.
“My family is very supportive. They would help with anything I ask.”
Sports were of little importance to her, although she did play CYO basketball. Jina understood art as spontaneous creative play, “I drew in my room with black/grayscale pencils because they were easier to control. I like acrylic and oil better now.”
She began her secondary education at BCCC, traveled some through Europe and South America, then settled in Southern California, completing her Graphic Design degree in an accelerated program at Platt College.
“I did web design for 5 years but lost interest.” Today’s trends in the graphic design industry are always evolving and she sincerely wanted to express her own innate artistic talents. She literally tried her hands at Massage Therapy when she kept hearing, “You can’t make money in art”. To this day, she still helps customers refresh, renew and revitalize with facial treatments at the Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Langhorne.
It was her older sister, Jaimi Berry, who suggested that she put her work online to sell it.
Jina opened Penelope Fox Art in 2009. As a freelancer, she worked with several indie and major label bands, designing album covers and advertisements, painting, participating in exhibitions in Belmar and Hoboken, NJ; Las Vegas, NV and Dallas, TX. She also collaborates with other artists and photographers through Artspan.com.
Her first students were her nieces but soon she had many other requests for classes. Her world began to look much more colorful. “I can do this with kids! What better a day?”
Jina’s sister Jaimi and her husband T.J. live in Philadelphia. Their daughter, Harley loves spending time with her Aunt on treks to New York City's Central Park and to the museums in Philadephia. Her other niece, Talulla is five and she loves going to Jina’s art classes and learning. “Talulla's favorite memory is playing hair salon with her Aunt "Gigi" (she couldn’t say Jina).”
Jina’s favorite colors were always blue and purple. “I love orange and the 70’s color clothing.”
Her sister “remembers her growing up and that she never wanted to match her clothes! She was always unique and our parents always allowed us to be expressive and an individual. They even allowed Jina to paint her walls black and write and draw on them.”
There is an energy and excitement dealing with kids. Jina’s students charge into the art room anticipating a fun lesson, bearing a can-do attitude. They enthusiastically want to learn and they can only see a world full of opportunity. Jina helps them find it and still have fun. She keeps them laughing with her decidedly upbeat attitude and engaging way.
Art stimulates and develops their imagination and critical thinking, as well as refining cognitive and creative skills. Penelope Fox Art classes are open forums to allow the promising artists to move quickly, commit to the drawing and forgive their own “mistakes”. This apparently is a big part of the art; giving into the process and not worrying about the details.
“I show them how to turn mistakes into something else. There really are no mistakes in art. I just encourage them to work on another piece, then come back and see it another way and make their mistake into something pretty. I hope they can see that in their life. I want to encourage them.”
The art student can learn a bit about Monet for not a lot of money. Call 702-751-PFox.
She charges just $20.00 for each 2-hour lesson. “It’s summer, different kids are in and out, so not a lot of information; not like school.”
Jina shows them some work of Claude Monet [1840 –1926], the founder of French impressionist painting, and then describes his style. “Monet likes to paint in swirls.”
Music plays in the background. “I like the Beatles and the kids seem to not mind the Beatles,” she smiled.
Jina is a big fan of kids' artwork, encouraging their passion, curiosity and their willingness to try.
She hangs their murals, is planning art shows and hosts birthday parties.
The Arts strengthen problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success, vital to a well-rounded education.
One project that she will start soon with her students is a comic book. The students will think of the story and then together they will create a comic book about it.
Jina was born and raised here in the Borough. “I know everyone here and my favorite part of Bristol is that it is small, a melting pot of mixed cultures; full of the closeness of family.”
Art is perfect for Jina. “Find who you are, find your passion. It’s about working hard.”
With her welcoming and accepting disposition, she “lets other people be who they are; fun and free!”
Penelope Fox Art
Grundy Commons Complex
925 Canal Street
Bristol, PA 19007