2nd Grade Composition - 1965
It seems that even at a tender young age, I held a vision to pursue my love of art. Art was fun, and in my eight year old mind, much more interesting than math or spelling. Given my knack for drawing and coloring, it still took over 30 years to follow the dream.
In 1996, after a lifetime of watching my mother find the perfect light and composition for her next photograph, and my father spread his watercolors across the kitchen table, the time for me to pursue my own dreams unexpectedly came to fruition. That year, I found myself struggling to figure out a sense of direction. Then, the voice from within came loud and clear: “To be well, I need to do art!” I called Dad immediately and asked him to teach me everything he knew about watercolor. My first watercolor lesson went something like this: “It’s easy, Janie, just do what I do!”
My first watercolor – July, 1996
We proceeded to paint a landscape scene complete with a wet-in-wet sky, distant mountains, lighthouse, rocks and waves. I remember thinking with horror, “Oh my, the paint is moving everywhere!” Dad told me to, “just let the colors mix on the page!” That was the beginning of a memorable week with Dad. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but we hardly started at square one. This introductory experience of jumping in the deep end later shaped my approach to teaching. With beginners, I start with the basics. It’s less terrifying!
It’s been a number of years since I finished that lighthouse painting. I keep it nearby as a reminder of all the love and guidance I have received from so many people on this creative journey. Since then, I’ve learned and continue to practice a variety of water media techniques. I’ve also recycled my fair share of botched paintings. It’s part of the learning curve. At this point in the journey, it isn’t important for me to develop a recognizable style or to be known for a particular subject matter or to master a specific method. I just want to pursue these interests in whatever direction they may inspire. It brings me joy, balance and clarity of mind. As importantly, I feel compelled to pass it on to others who may find themselves saying, “I need to do art!” I find great satisfaction in teaching and watching others grow through their own learning curve. Teaching is as important to me as producing my own work and brings with it a significant sense of gratification and fulfillment. It may not change the world, but it changes me and for that, it all feels worthwhile.