Unconventional. I think that has been a bit of the theme this week. I loved Diane’s very unconventional way of re-cycling stuff into art, the unconventional EmmyBo making great cards out of little scraps of nothing, Deena doing printables- a decade ago who would have even known what printables were, let alone called them art? And then the Covered Bottom, rather than complain about “someone should make diaper clutch” she did just that. And the Paper Button-Buttons of all things turned into beautiful artwork.. I think I have been very blessed to have been able to bring all this unique art to the table.
Today I would like to bring you Janet Nechama Miller, a.k.a. Planet Janet. I thought unconventional fit her very well. Based out of Seattle she works from a collective artist studio in the heart of old Seattle, at Pioneer Square. I myself lived quite some time in Seattle and it is a very creativity inspiring place, at least it was for me and pioneer square left me continually with a sense of urgency to do some sort of artwork and reconnect somehow to the past whether recent or deeper past. But this isn’t about me; this is about Planet Janet, isn’t it? Janet has to say about the square ” I've been in the building for 5 years, and I love it! The building has 6 floors of artist studios of all varieties, and I have made some really awesome friends there over the years. I used to work out of a shared studio space, which was great, and about a year ago I moved into my very own private art studio on the 2nd floor. I have plenty of space to make & exhibit my artwork, and there is a wonderful community of other artists who I share common space with. It's an amazing arrangement, and I am really happy with it!”
The amazing arrangement must be what is bringing about amazing artwork. Her work is a mix of collage, painting, printmaking, and a technique referred to as encaustic painting. Encaustic paintings is a technique in which different mediums, like beeswax, are incorporated into the work to give a layered and misted effect. The results are almost airy, ethereal –stunning. “I have always loved to draw, paint, doodle, and make art of all kinds. Art has always been my very most favorite thing to do, ever!” she goes on to say about her current process “I love how encaustic painting brings together all the different art-making techniques that I love the most- painting, drawing, collage, & printmaking!” Also “Making art, loving art, and teaching art have always been incredibly important to me. To me, art is completely interwoven with and connected to my desire to work for social, economic, & racial justice. Art opens doors for creative self-expression, for stories to be heard, for ideas to be shared. I love to share skills and learn from others.”
She has learned from many teachers and been inspired from many people, places, and communities. She has studied with a mentor artist starting at age 10 and continuing for 8 years. And like any good artist, she is still learning and growing from these original roots. Janet studied at several colleges and community art schools. Learning also from friends, from looking at work in galleries and on the streets, she has learned from books, from artists she’s met along the way, and from her students of all ages. She says “I remain open to learning new techniques and skills always” I think perhaps that is an integral part of any artist, and what is catapulting Janet’s work from ordinary to extraordinary. I asked Janet how she came to selling online her response “I started my artist website http://www.planetjanetart.com in 2005 after some artist friends of mine suggested that it would be a good thing to do. I put an ad on craigslist, and found a talented web designer who was willing to trade me an amazing website for an original painting. It worked out great! The website has helped me reach out & share my work with others who might not have seen it otherwise. A great friend of mine updates the website for me regularly. We also have an arrangement based on bartering, which I love” Oh yes, bartering. I love a good barter myself. It seem to give that commercialism a bit of a bite in the butt that it really does need at times! She also sells on Etsy and opened her shop Planet Janet Art in 2009. She plans to add more and more items to her Etsy as time allows, but we all know how that can go. Seems there are not nearly enough hours in some days. Offline Janet’s art can be found in her studio, at art walks, galleries and exhibits at coffee houses and such all around Seattle.
I tried to pick a favorite piece and I just couldn’t. I stared endlessly at the website, the Etsy store and just couldn’t come up with one particular favorite. They were all so incredibly alluring. They all captured me and held me. That capturing and holding is perhaps one of those things that takes art to that higher level. And yes, her work really is at that level. Rather than showcase a favorite I just add a few pictures around this story. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but maybe you can?
So what is her inspiration? I think I found the most emotion in the answers when I asked about her home and family. “I have a very loving partner, a wonderful family, and an amazing community of friends that continue to amaze, inspire, and support me in so many ways. I can't imagine what my life would be like without being part of such an incredibly strong and creative network of friends, artists, musicians, teachers, organizers... the list goes on and on. We all learn from one another, believe in each other, and support each others work. can't imagine what my life would be like without such a strong community. As a self-employed artist, so many people say to me, "that is impossible! you can't live off your art!" ... "Growing up, society told me in so many ways "you will never make it as an artist!" I made the conscious choice to ignore those voices, and to listen to the ones that said, "it is hard but we can do it!" I have found incredible solace in sharing experiences with others, and finding ways to live our dreams in the face of realities that often make it so hard to do so!”
Planet Janet…truly an inspiration! Thank you Janet for allowing me to feature you on my blog. I hope you readers have enjoyed getting to know Janet as I have. Please make sure and take time to visit her sites and see more of her wonderful work!
On a side note, My Fat Sally is home. She is recuperating. Thanks to all who said a few prayers for her. We hope she continues to improve. She is definitely not her old self, but she is still alive, still breathing and still waiting for her pat on the head. She is a good girl with her own long story she could tell, if only she could talk. She came to un rather unconventionaly and is a bit of an unconventional dog...Maybe one of these days when I am caught up with the stories I want to feature, I will be able to tell you a bit of Fat Sal’s!
Happy creating all!