Janie Gildow: Artist Interview
Janie Gildow visiting Creative Catalyst
I’ve always liked to draw--from my earliest attempts (cross section 3-storey houses and sausage-legged ballet dancers wearing tutus) to the day in junior high when I realized I could “draw it the way it actually looked.”
The realism carried over until college, where my original plan was to go into medical illustration. Art in those “ancient” days was extremely abstract-oriented, so being a realist was frustrating, but no matter how the professors tried, they just couldn’t train it out of me, but eventually, the plan for medical illustration (due to several contributing factors) had to be re-thought.
Consequently, my choice was fine art education—surprising, because I dreaded getting up to speak in front of more than 3 individuals at one time. Speech class helped, but it wasn’t until I actually got to student teaching that it became imperative to be able to do it. And once over the hump, I actually enjoyed it—and still do.
So, I taught art in the public schools for 30 years and along the way decided it was time to start doing some serious art of my own. Of course, graphite pencil immediately came to mind, because the pencil made realistic detail very possible, but I was starved for color, so decided to paint, and finally had to admit to myself that I was trying to draw with the brush.
Then I remembered my set of colored pencils and from that moment, it all just clicked. I began entering competitions and winning awards, my work was accepted into a gallery and began to sell. That was an incredible incentive and I was hooked!
All along, I knew I was an artist, but with my successes, I (n my opinion) became an Artist (with a capital A)—and a professional one at that.
I received the Martha Holden Jennings Award for excellence in teaching and as time went on, I began to give presentations and teach workshops to organizations across the United States, realizing that that was the new direction I wanted to take—because I loved teaching and sharing what I know—and discovered I was good at it.
Now I spend more time teaching and preparing for teaching than I do producing art. I’m always generating examples for the classes I teach, and I demo a lot, but I actually only produce a major piece once every two or three years. And I find that I’m happy (and satisfied) doing that.
Advice to new artists: don’t give up. Do to what you do best—and if you haven’t discovered what it is, or found it yet, look for a technique or method that speaks to you—and then find a teacher, mentor, video, or class, to start bringing out your “you.”
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