ART BUYERS: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING MAKING A PURCHASE, PLEASE CONSIDER ORDERING A PRINT OF MY WORK ON WATERCOLOR PAPER. THEY ARE EXTREMELY CLOSE TO THE ORIGINAL WHEN PRINTED ON WATERCOLOR PAPER. NOT AS TRUE ON PHOTO PAPERS. ACRYLIC AND METAL ARE FINE. CARDS COME OUT EXTREMELY WELL ON THE CARD STOCK USED BY FAA. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT. JANIS
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born: Baltimore, MD
January 30, 1944
Lives: Ft. Myers, FL
Maryland native, Janis Ilene Grau, has been working in watercolor for about fifteen years; as well as teaching middle school art for the last thirty-five years. In 1966 she earned a BFA degree from the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She has pursed course work at Towson University and various workshops earning credits in education and art equivalent to a Master’s plus 30. Janis lived for many years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and now maintains a home in Ft. Myers, Florida. She has found numerous subjects for her watercolors from the natural settings in both of these coastal areas.
She paints flowers, primarily, but also loves still life and landscape subject matter. Her love for the medium of watercolor grew from an early age when her high school art teacher, Jim Laubheimer, would require a weekly watercolor as homework. “He would send the class to paint “en pleine air” regardless of the weather. I can remember one winter day trying to paint the Baltimore skyline from Federal Hill, when the air was so cold that our washes turned to ice on the paper.” From this early discipline in the medium grew her expertise in technique, a keen sense of color and a desire to capture the fleetingness of nature in some permanent way.
I’ve been told I was born holding a crayon. I can remember dropping them through the heated floor grate and watching the colors melt together all the while listening to my Dad shout about the smell of burning wax! I cannot remember a time that I was not “making art” of one kind or another. That early love of crayon melting color-on-color has evolved to the point where the crayon has become a brush and the wax colors of have morphed into brilliant water colors. From a young age I have always been attracted to the beauty of flowers and admired the skills of those with a green thumb (which I do not have). I once entertained the thought of becoming a floral arranger. Over the years I have found a way to combine these two loves by capturing floral images with my watercolors.
To be able to combine a love of watercolor with my fascination in capturing close up images of beautiful flowers is just the best of all possible worlds. My work is created so as to engage the viewer’s eye and have it wander throughout the patterns, shapes, shadows and colors of the painting, observing details less visible on a smaller scale. I want the observer to be drawn into the flower, imagining the scent and feeling the texture of each petal and leaf.
This process of creating a larger-than-life floral image begins with my camera which I use to capture close-up views to use as reference. I then take an image and crop and edit it to develop the ideal composition. This image is then transferred to watercolor paper. The painting evolves as colors are selected for their luminosity, intensity and visual impact. Often I will introduce colors (not present in the original likeness) to enhance the visual effect of shadows or textures or pattern. And, of course, I am always hoping for the “happy accident”, often present in watercolor painting, that will take me on a path I had not anticipated when the composition was first planned. In the end the painting has become my interpretation of the photographic image I first captured from the creations of that green-thumbed gardener I have long admired.
When I am immersed in the inspiration, planning and production of a new painting it is a feeling unlike any other. My mind’s eye “sees” the finished work and then I begin to engage my whole being in the creation of the final image. Often motivation will come from a childhood memory (the sweet peas that grew by the backyard fence) or from an unusual color combination (as in the pumpkin and maroon hues of “Supreme Sultan Iris”). More often than not, I am struck by the awesome beauty and design I observe in the blossoms and patterns of the leaves wishing to capture this in a way that others may see something they have never noticed.
I have drawn inspiration from the flower paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and from the intense colors used by Van Gogh. I love the almost abstract quality of O’Keeffe’s compositional arrangements and her up close and personal point-of-view. Vincent’s color harmonies and visual color blending are lessons in color theory for this artist who wishes to avoid the usual and mundane. Although I paint in watercolor, not oils as these masters did; I have long admired their ability to capture, through composition and color, the eye of the beholder.
Watercolor and flowers are my two great obsessions (although I have been known to paint other subjects). I have been fortunate to be able to always pursue my passions. What can be better than to be doing what one loves.
Happiness…it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
…Vincent van Gogh