Jeannie Marshall Ortiz was born in San Diego, California, and grew up near the beach in south Ocean Beach. The ocean, the sun, and a good breeze have always been her comfort and inspiration. She gradually got into making art, starting with drawing, beading, sewing, and spinning and dying wool. She also played the flute, enjoyed jamming, and was part of a modern dance group called Vanguard. The rhythm and flow of all these elements is seen in her artwork.
She made her first linoleum block print when she was 21, living in what she called her ‘birdhouse’ in Golden Hills, while going to Mesa College. She majored in Art and Spanish, and took her first sculpting class there, which felt like coming home. Continuing her studies at San Francisco State University she enjoyed lithography, and, of course, sculpting. Finishing up her B.A. in Art with an emphasis in Sculpture, she made her first figurative sculpture in marble.
During her time in ‘The City’, she started traveling in Mexico and Guatemala, with just a backpack, and stayed in ‘pensiones’. Jeannie visited many museums and galleries, small towns, lots of water falls, made many friends, and drew in pencil and ink wherever she went. While living in Coatepec and Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, she worked on a sizable sculpture in marble, made a variety of prints, a couple of smaller sculptures in wood, and lots of drawings. She also taught art and sculpting to various individuals, and ceramics to a sizable group at the University Extension.
Returning to San Diego, Jeannie raised three sons, earned teaching credentials, and taught bilingual elementary school children for nearly two decades, mostly in Vista. She used her Spanish a whole lot more than her art during that time.
Since retiring, she’s gotten back to sculpting, and even made a couple of prints.
She teaches sculpting to kids of all ages, and now has a single subject credential to teach art. In 2010, Jeannie participated in the Oceanside Sculpture Competition. She taught sculpting at Reach, an after school program run by the Vista Community Clinic, with a grant from the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation in 2011. She was the featured artist of November 2011 at Vista Art Foundation’s Gallery 204. She teaches sculpting and mask making to elementary school students through ‘Kid’s College’, an after school enrichment program. She just learned to work in stained glass this winter, and loves the color and light. She also started making her first sculpture in olive wood recently. Jeannie shows her work at Artbeat on Main Street in Vista, and in the Artist Alliance shows around town.