Artist Update - Jane Davies

Posted October 05 2015
We filmed Jane Davies a number of years ago and were wondering what she has been doing and is doing now.  Jane is featured on our video Scribble Collage: with Hand-Painted Paper with Jane Davies


Jane, what have you been doing since filming here at Creative Catalyst?  I’ve been teaching a lot and making art.


Do you remember any highlights about your visit to Creative Catalyst to film your video(s)?  The whole thing was a highlight!  The team was such fun to work with, the time went by fast.  



Did creating a video change your career path in any way?  No, I wouldn’t say so.  It gave me a boost, for sure, but my career was already on the teaching/art-making path, and that hasn’t changed.



What did other artists or students say about your video?  They love it.  MANY people remark on how well it is made, how much information is pack into it.  I give credit to the Creative Catalyst team for their superb editing and production.  Not every production company takes the time to edit so carefully.  I learned some things about making my own short videos from working with Creative Catalyst, and I get lots of compliments on those as well.



Tell us how your art has changed / evolved in the last few years?  My art is always changing, though I’m not sure I would call it evolution.  I generally have about three different series or ideas going at once.  In the last few years I’ve experimented with working on a larger scale than is comfortable.  I’ve also worked on large series of very small pieces, 4”x4” and 8”x8”.  I seem to be more and more interested in subtle colors, lots of open space, rather than the brighter work I was doing previously.  On the other hand, my smaller work is still pretty colorful.



What subjects, styles, materials are catching your interest these days?  Very interested in simple formats - stripes, grids, for example.  I’m working on some monochrome stripes, seeing what kinds of variations are possible in that format.  I’m working on 8”x8” “pattern grids” that are about unlikely combinations or juxtapositions of patterns and other elements - I’m trying to see how “wonky” I can get, and how much contrast within a small piece.  They are FUN!  These are mostly in paint and collage, but also incorporating some gel plate printing.


What inspires you to keep creating?  It's just what I do.


Have you had some obstacles to overcome to continue art?  How did you overcome them?  My main challenges are not having enough wall space for working large.  My studio is under a gable ceiling, with knee walls, so there is very little vertical wall space.  I’ve overcome that by building free-standing moveable walls and getting a large easel.  So, no excuses now!


Are you continuing to teach art?  Always. I love teaching!  The challenge is balancing art-making, or studio time, with teaching, and I’m working on that.


What are some of the most common questions your students have?  How do I know when a painting is finished?  


Problems they have?  Letting go of the idea that a painting has to be planned out, or that they have to know what they are doing or know where it’s going.  I try to emphasize observation and inquiry - try this, see what happens, but really LOOK at the piece, not the Idea In Your Head about what the piece Should Look Like.  I want to open them up to a broader understanding of composition, beyond the traditional “rules” or “principles”, so that they can be open to a more personal style of expression.  


Do you use your videos (or others) in your teaching?  I mostly use my own YouTube videos.  After a live workshop I send a follow-up e-mail with links to videos that might be helpful.  In online teaching I use my own videos for demonstration, though not for Talking To The Class.


New books, videos, shows, galleries, awards?  My new online gallery, Jane Davies Art Gallery, is up, and I will continue adding work to it.  I got an artist residency last May - Vermont Artists Week at the Vermont Studio Center.


Have you learned anything new about art marketing?   I have not put a lot of effort into selling my own work because my income comes from teaching, and my time is spent on teaching.  I did open my gallery, and in the coming year I do plan to put more effort into selling my work.


Has the internet changed what you are creating or how you are marketing?   It has changed how I market - for example, I sell prints on Fine Art America, which has been very successful.  I don’t know if it has changed how I create work - all that interaction with students online has got to have some effect.  I’m constantly challenged and inspired by my students.


Do you have any advice to someone who wants to learn to paint?  Get some paints, apply them to paper.  Even if it is a cheap set of watercolors or craft paint.  Just making marks can give you an idea of what it is you want to learn.  Then take a workshop, or buy a book or video.  Make sure it is appropriate for beginners.  Look through artists web sites to see what appeals to you.


How do you know when to quit (a painting)?  That is a long answer.  The short version is:  you know that a piece is finished when it isn't bugging you for more development.  When the piece gives you that "a Ha" feeling, and there isn't one thing about it that is niggling at you, then it is done.  When the conversation is over, your piece stops "talking" to you and stands on its own two feet.  If you don't know if it's finished, it is not finished. It may only need to sit for a few days, and then it will declare itself finished.  So, even if your piece does not need another mark, it isn't finished until it says it's finished.


The practice is not How-To-Finish-Your-Art in ten easy steps; and it isn't about going through a checklist of compositional principles (though that can be helpful if you don't know what is bugging you about a piece).  The practice is being honest with yourself (not rationalizing or explaining) and cultivating awareness of that gut feeling that tells you the piece speaks to you, expresses YOUR voice.  Key word here is "cultivate".  It's an ongoing practice; keep cultivating.

[The above is from a blog post I did last year:]


Where do you see your art taking you in the next 5 to 10 years?  Hopes and dreams?   My plan is to achieve a better balance between art and teaching so that I have more studio time.  I love teaching, and I already feel like I cherry pick the teaching engagements I take, so it’s hard to know where to cut down.  Still….that’s the plan.  More studio time and larger work.  I continue to be challenged by working at a large scale, so that’s where I’m going.  Also I get lots of requests for larger work, and when people buy my prints, they generally buy larger sizes.  (That’s the beauty of prints: you can have one of my pieces, but at a size that suits your space).  In the next couple of years I plan to put more effort into selling my work online, and create/find more opportunities for shows - of my work and also curating group shows.  In 4 - 6 years my plan is to build a new studio that will accommodate 5 - 6 people where I could not only have plenty of wall space, but invite small groups for mentoring workshops.  I love working WITH people, so having space for others to work alongside me, whether it’s a mentoring situation or just working together, is a goal.