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Jane Davies is a full time artist working in collage, painting, and encaustic. She offers workshops at her studio and nationwide, focusing on helping people to find a personal and playful approach to art.
Beginning as a potter in the early nineties, selling her colorful hand-painted ceramics at craft shows, Davies gradually transitioned into freelance art, designing tableware, fabric, paper goods, stationery, and other products, using painting and collage as her medium. For the past several years, Davies has put most of her efforts towards teaching, writing, and making art.
While I may teach a multitude of techniques, my focus is on the back-and-forth play of spontaneity and intention that characterizes the creative process. I try to pave the way into that precarious I-don’t-know-what-to-do-next zone, where you are challenged to forge a personal path, with guidance, to discover the satisfaction of making art that is truly your own. Cultivating a degree of comfort, or at least willingness, with that awkward territory of not-knowing, is one of the keys to finding your creative edge.
Having grown up in the environment of art colleges, with contemporary art a part of my everyday life, it does not surprise me that abstract elements of art - color, shape, line, texture, for example - are the things that excite my visual sensibility. Formal elements are my first and foremost source of inspiration. I can be moved by a simple combination of color and line, or the relationships of shapes and edges, or the interplay between pattern and scale. I look at colors, textures and images out in the world as well: rocks, rust, surfaces affected by age, by marks of the human hand, by time and tides. But I also look at a lot of art in many mediums, and gorge myself on the infinite ways in which materials can be transformed into rich and expressive visual statements.
I begin with a loose idea as starting point. For example, I may want to explore a particular color relationship, or a certain type of line with specific shapes, or the contrast of soft edges with hard edges. I set up the parameters of my exploration, usually specifying some colors, and a few elements, and then work in series, trying out various permutations over the course of multiple pieces. The parameters loosely define a starting point only, and I have no pre-conceived idea of what the piece will look like when it is finished. The piece develops as a conversation, a dialogue between my actions, and how those actions affect the painting.
In my own art practice, focus on process is an essential component of developing work that feels authentic and personal. My process involves a back-and-forth play between spontaneous, intuitive mark-making, and careful deliberation and intention: I think of it as letting things happen, and making things happen. I make a move, and then the painting reveals something new to respond to. Each move changes the whole piece and sets up a new set of challenges. It takes practice and continued effort to stay present to this dialog and not get carried away by the desire for a quick result or an easy resolution. It requires trust in my own intuitive responses, and a willingness to not-know, to not have the route laid out like a road map.
I leave my paintings open to interpretation by the viewer, so I hope you’ll have fun looking at them.
I believe that making art is a journey with very few hand-holds and only a general road map. Each participant has to find his or her own way, while at the same time remain open to learning from others.
Jane Davies, artist
"I just wanted to send a quick, but heartfelt, thank you for the wonderful workshop in Middlebury on Saturday. Although it seems silly in retrospect, I was nervous about attending -- as I think I mentioned, all my painting has been solitary and mostly self-taught, with the exception of your videos and a few other things I've picked up from books and such. So I didn't know what to expect from the experience. But the exercises, and especially your feedback on the pieces I was working on and the others I'd brought with me, was genuinely eye-opening. In just a few minutes, you were able to get right to the heart of something I'd been struggling with, and point me in a direction that felt like progress rather than the aimless wandering I'd been doing." ~ Susan