Facebook: Janet Schwartz
When did art become a pursuit for you?
Growing up I always knew art would be a big part of my life, and it was until I entered the working world and started a family. I took several decades off and, in 2013, with encouragement from my daughter, I re-focused on art and realized how much I missed it. Today, I spend more than 50% of my time teaching art, making art, and promoting my art. The other 50% is spent working in the corporate world to help pay my bills.
Are you self-taught or formally educated in visual art?
Both. My undergraduate degree is in art education. Each year, as part of my continuous development as an artist, I take art classes and workshops that allow me to grow in the direction I want to. I also read art magazines, blogs, and spend a good amount of time looking at other artists’ work in museums, galleries, etc. For example, visiting the Matisse exhibit at the MFA last summer was a huge learning experience and has inspired me in my own work.
How did you first become involved with ArtsWorcester?
Soon after my decision to get more serious about art, I decided to join ArtsWorcester. I was impressed with the arts community in the city and pleasantly surprised by my first visit to ArtsWorcester. I quickly joined and, with a little prodding, decided to prepare for a solo show that highlighted my life as a commuter. This show, titled Inspired Work, fueled my interest in painting traffic landscapes.
What medium do you currently work in, and how did you choose this medium?
I currently work with pastels, oils, and charcoal. I like the pastels because they are relatively fast, produce amazingly rich results, and can provide wonderful color studies for my oils. Although I have worked with pastels for many years, I have learned many new techniques and approaches working closely with Dave Kaphammer, an accomplished pastel painter. I love working in charcoals and graphite as I have a special fondness for working tonally and using my whole hand to smudge and create mid-tones and soft edges.
What is your creative process?
I take tons of pictures with my phone. Foggy, rainy, distorted images appeal to me and I am drawn to architecture, figures and urban landscapes. I cull down the images that appeal to me due to the drama, the palette, or the surprise of it all. Then I spend time cropping and starting studies. I begin with a thumbnail and sometimes do color studies before starting the actual final painting. Sometimes I decide to use the same subject and create it in more than one medium.
How do you choose your subject matter? Are there themes that recur throughout your work?
I love drama and distortion. Some common themes I have focused on repeatedly are traffic, urban landscapes, the view from my windshield, architecture and nature, and usually anything else where edges are softened or the light is dramatic.
What living artists are you inspired by?
There are many artists that inspire me but Carol Marine, Tony Allain and Jen Evenhus rise to the top of the heap. These three accomplished painters have inspired me with their fresh and bold expressions and unique approaches to painting. I have studied with Tony and Jen and their technique and process has had a significant impact on how I paint today. I must also include Barbara Ess in the list, artist/photographer/teacher extraordinaire and my sister. Her originality and creative spirit laid the groundwork for my development as an artist.
Do you own any art by other artists?
Yes. I own original artwork by Michele Poirier-Mozzone, Tony Allain, Barbara Ess, and Dave Kaphammer, all artists I greatly admire.
What other media or directions would you like to explore?
Although I currently work in pastel, oil, and charcoal, in the near future I am planning on getting back into collage work. In the past, I have found collage to be a most liberating way to express myself. Because of the fluid nature of many of my subjects (rain, fog, traffic) I work from reference photos. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but I also want to work more from life and have started doing more plein air work. Monotypes and watercolor painting are also on my list for future media and methods to explore.