Jane PetermanPalo Alto, CA
I make art because I have to make art: it turns my crank and gives me pleasure in all its tortures. For over ten years I have been teaching myself to make my own work. Two years ago I started making large pieces, over 50 inches in both directions, and found that finally my means and ends fit. A generous-sized canvas allows me to work without feeling cramped.
Printmaking techniques have given me a way of inserting surprise into the process of making art. I use plastic sheeting as a "plate" to create elements for my paintings by slathering acrylic paint in shapes, marking the shapes with various tools and then printing onto the canvas. Pigment can then be smoothed, scraped, scratched and washed away to create the effects I need to express my ideas. Sometimes collage materials are called for, especially artist-created materials, drawings, or acrylic film constructions. The size of my studio limits me to work on 2 or 3 paintings at a time as the work gets larger and larger.
Frustrated by the difficulties in expressing concepts such as the treatment of women at work and in the home, the importance of educating women to relieve poverty and overpopulation, or the challenge of women embracing and honoring each other, I find myself creating art while thinking about these issues. My art is influenced by being brought up Catholic in probably the ugliest place in the United States by parents who allowed me to live and think differently from themselves. The art has evolved to be non-objective and completely abstract, but it is really about these otherwise, for me, inexpressible themes of a lifetime as a woman.
Daily I am refreshed by the never-ending challenges of creating expressive Art.
I was eight when my father left the planet and I knew I would leave Port Arthur, Texas. Just as Janis Joplin and Robert Rauschenburg left, I would find a more compatible place on the planet to dwell. Twelve years spent in Dallas, Texas completing my education in economics and accounting were the years when I met my first divorced person and was nearly destroyed by a self-centered angry teacher whose motivations my gentle Cajun upbringing left me unprepared to understand. A move, intended to be temporary, to the west coast provided opportunities to travel to New England and England, Germany and New York City. There I met my beloved godfather, George Stinson, a dress designer who lived on Houston Street and Fire Island and who died of AIDS too soon. A snap of him hangs in my studio as a constant reminder that an artist from Port Arthur can escape.
There has always been an appreciation of beautiful things in our family. "Champagne taste and a beer pocketbook” was a favorite phrase of my mother's. Exploring the museums of Munich I remember being stunned by the first original Rubens I ever saw. A business trip to New York coincided with the 1981 Picasso exhibit at MOMA and I saw the powerful “Guernica” in person. That exhibit was the seed from which grew a study of art, art history and criticism that sustains me daily.
Longed-for motherhood turned out to be more a pouring-out than sustenance. Searching for relief from a major depression I took a one-weekend-a-month nurturing arts class twelve years ago. Simple materials, singing, poetry, drawing, painting, sharing food and sharing a look at the product of our work nurtured my soul like no other previous experience. Two blessed years I was immersed monthly in this heavenly food. I just couldn't stop. I enrolled in a new class called “Watercolor Beyond the Obvious” and started painting in the corner of our dining room. I read everything I could about composition and color, devouring Joseph Itten's “The Art of Color” along with Alex Power's bibliography of books artists should read. But best of all I painted...a series of mouths, self-portraits, orchids, portals, producing stacks of paintings, some of which were not too bad.
Presently I paint abstract paintings about things that are conceptual. The themes are women's concerns: education of girls, fair pay for equal work, discrimination, and bringing the uniquely feminine gifts to the problems of our world. But the fun thing is that these serious themes don't have to be obvious to the viewer. Like the hidden life of the individual, only the artist knows what is in there.
My goal is to make the best possible art and to put it into the world. I try to live life never looking in the rear-view mirror and not tackling he difficult bits until I get to them. Of my paintings Renee Eaton wrote: n“Wonderfully complex and magnificently painted, truly each is a spiritual conception—a deep delight.”