Friday, May 7, 2010

Artist Profile--Jan Harris

Our featured artist this month is Jan Harris. Jan does exquisite pieces in a wide range of materials, often using nature as her muse. She is also a wonderful teacher who teaches classes both locally and internationally. Check out her blog to learn more.

1. What are the main mediums you use? What do you find satisfying about them?

I love to work in multiple medias and find ways to use them together. Currently my focus is on painting and encaustic, using water soluble grounds, water media and collage under wax, with encaustic enhancement to create a finished piece. But I also have a love for silversmithing and creating eclectic jewelry pieces from odd bits and pieces, as well as glass beads.

2. If someone were going to get started in those mediums, what suggestions would you give?

Classes, classes and classes from a variety of instructors and find your own path from what you learn! But I also have an extensive library of books because that's what I turn to when I am burning the midnight oil and need a bit of assistance. Don't pay a lot for your art materials and tools until you are sure it is a media you will stay with. There are always cheap alternatives out there for the art materials we use.

3. A perfect art day would look like .....

well, actually, since I have a day job to pay the mortgage LOL, my art days are mostly art "nights" where I turn off the phones, crank up the music and sit down and lose myself in a project.

4. Do you have dedicated studio space?

I started out with a space in the garage for my metal work and a converted bedroom for painting, but after my son moved out, I reconsidered that a living room has to be a living room and a kitchen has to be a kitchen. Especially when it is cold and raining and I am freezing cold while I work in the garage. Now I tell folks that ask that I have a bedroom in my studio, with art making having spread to almost every room in the house. For someone with a reduced amount of time to work on art, I find it important to ensure that I will need little preparation work to sit down and work on a project.

5. Favorite place you've visited or lived?

That's such a hard question for me. Traveling is my second passion and I have travelled extensively across the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Bahamas and Australia. I am completely in love with Australia. The sounds, smells and sights are exotic and yet the people are much like us in the states. There are entire areas in Melbourne decorated with the most amazing graffiti and there is artwork almost everywhere you look. Mexico was amazing in its colors. Everywhere you look, the colors of the rainbow are reflected back at you and inspire my art. And everywhere I have traveled, I have been inspired by local art and culture. But as for places to live, I have to say my heart belongs to the Portland, OR area.

--One of Jan's art gourds:

6. What inspires you (or are there recurring themes in your work)?

Most of my art has a natural theme. I have always felt close to nature and participate in activities that bring me closer to nature. I am also fascinated with religious icons and cultures. The mixing and combining of color often allows me to express emotion and feeling in my work.

7. I still struggle with ....

defining myself as an artist and staying within a theme of work or one medium. I love to create and often jump from media to media which prevents me from definitively stating who I am as an artist. I struggle, too, with accepting the title of artist when so much of my life is focused away from the arts. In this, I continue to seek a pathway that will lead me closer and closer to making art my sole source of income and career so I am allowed the time to focus and increase my abilities and success as an artist.

8. I'd be lost without ....

the support of my artist community and the encouragement I receive from my friends. Many times I have considered giving up on art and they have always been there to motivate me and cheer me on. I hope I do the same for them.

9. Favorite dessert?

Dangerous question for me!! I don't think I have ever met a dessert I didn't current love is smoked salt chocolate caramels from Fran's in Seattle.

10. What's on the horizon?

After a disasterous year, last year, I realized that there are no guarantees in life, which makes the prospect of taking risks less scary and the chance of success more optomistic. So, I have designated this year to making a jump into art as a primary career focus. Teaching more, making more art and promoting myself in the art community. I have always been shy in introducing myself as an artist and I want to move past that to a confidence in representing myself as a creator of art worthy to share with others. To that end, I gave my business card to a business owner in Sassafras, Australia who promptly told me my art was beautiful and would I be interested in a show that was upcoming in his area. That is the stuff of dreams.

Jan recently documented her trip to Australia on her blog, you can follow her adventures and see more of her artwork here.

1 comment:

Dayna said...

The artist's profiles are such a lovely way to get familiar with an artist. I love that Jan has so many areas of interest and is willing to stretch herself by experimenting. I also love that Jan has a bedroom in her studio!