Friday, January 22, 2016

Questions and answers inspired by Vermont Studio Center blog

I was just looking at the blog from the Vermont Studio Center and was wondering what I would say in response to some of the questions they asked the studio participants.  So here we go

In the Studio with Jane M Johnstone

Jane M Johnstone is a visual artist working out of her home and her studio at ArtSpace Maynard.

Do you have any routines or rituals while you work?
No. I tend to work in different rhythms at different times. Nothing is a set routine or ritual. Lately, I have been enjoying the winter morning sunlight at home; sitting with a cup of coffee, the dog at my feet, and a sketchbook with pencil, pen or gouache to observe the blooming Christmas cactus on the table next to me, or the slumbering dog on the sunny rug. At the studio, I either work on a painting that is in process or start a new one depending on what calls to me when I enter the room. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes to NPR and sometimes to silence. I also have a chair in the afternoon sun inviting me to pause, step back and observe what I am working on, sometimes saving that overreaching mark that smothers the work.

What one material/tool could you not work without?
If I had to only have one tool, it would be two, a mechanical pencil and paper.

What inspires you besides other art and artists (movies, good food, songs, books, birds, etc.)?
Nature is the biggest inspiration for me, whether it is a walk in the woods or the light on a living object in the house. I am drawn the line and energy of life .

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do it

What are you working on now?
I am learning to paint. I have been working as a printmaker for years and am reaching out to add new media to my work.

What role does identity play in your work?
My life and my experiences definitely influence my work but my work is not about my life and my experiences. My work is about observation and medium. I am not interested in work as autobiography, rather as connection. Often when titling pieces I find out how particular experiences have influenced the aesthetic choices I have made.  When the narrative becomes title it is usually because the work has taken some experience that I have had and made it feel more universal. I choose untitled when I want the work to mean what it means to the viewer without words, allowing observation and medium rather than narrative guide the viewing experience.

What does community mean to you?

Community is amazing, which is why I maintain a studio space in a studio building. I have contact with other inspiring artists when I want and I have privacy in my studio when I want. We encourage each other, inspire each other, motivate each other, critique each other, show our works together, and gather for art movies, openings and art outings. We remind each other of the value of art-making in a society that often doesn’t prioritize the arts.

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