Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jane Alexandra Walsh, Artist & Teacher, Tells Her Story


I am delighted to have a chance to share my work and my thoughts as an artist with a complicated life as a teacher/artist. What I have gained from teaching for 23 years with the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, and especially the 16 years at the MCPS Visual Art Center, is that an artist must challenge him/herself to push forward toward a new destination. Teaching “Advanced Placement” students working on creating an AP Concentration series helped me to understand the value of working with a commitment to a theme and to risking change and failure to learn new skills and to discover new talent or at least a sense of creative accomplishment.

I would like to introduce myself through showing a painterly exploration of imagined or invented landscapes. These paintings and collages reveal my experience with the "ephemeral moment of light" in nature; as they use visual conventions of changing weather, seasons and shifting time.

Over the years I have painted and photographed thousands of scenes from the natural and man-made world. What remains is tangible evidence of my “getting lost in the landscape” only to regain my sanity through the joyous act of painting. Examples of my observed and experienced landscapes can be found  on my website.

While I undertook my MFA Studies at MICA during 2002-06 I began a series of experiments and painterly adventures stepping away from the traditional landscape. Using my skills in oils, watercolors and watercolor inks I pushed in size and scale of work created from postcard size to wall size. Things that did not work well were cut up and reassembled and reimagined. Experiments led to intentional series of works that explored a visual idea or an intellectual concept.

Imagined Landscapes are paintings that describe or suggest the natural world but from memory and imagination and not from direct observation of nature.

NGS View

Shifting Light

The Rectangle Series was initially inspired by the work of Mark Rothko and his use of the color relationships and the rectangle to contain space and eliminate it. His work sparked my own awareness of the power of the rectangle and the horizon line. The Floating Rectangles borrow from the Surrealists, altering time or season by offering the viewer a chance to shift between realities.

Hurricane Force

Hurricane Force 2

The Hurricane Series was inspired by the satellite images of many different hurricanes of recent years since Katrina. After creating a series of 7-8 spontaneous, expressive hurricane swirl paintings, I pushed for more complexity by cutting and splice/collaging two or more different paintings into a shifting sense of layered space.


The Tree Series marks the end of a long investigation into seeking and painting the "ephemeral moment of light" in my own backyard. After years of travelling and painting all over the US and Europe with my eyes on the horizon, I sought inspiration and connection with the trees and forests that surround my apartment building.

Beyond the Curtain

Through a Lace Curtain

The painterly explorations in the Drip Series were experimental paintings born of the discovery of watercolor inks and a desire to push my knowledge and skills as a watercolorist. Most of the landscape images portrayed in the Drip Series were a response to the gift to me of a set of glass plate negatives made in 1904-07 by my great-grandfather, Hermann Karr’s photographs of rural New Jersey. In undertaking to paint the scenes I chose to add a final layer of active shower of drips to signal looking back in time.

Overgrown Summer

The Collage Series developed from an impulse to cut up less successful landscape paintings and to reassemble them in a new, more complex way. Each collage shows invention or personal choice to "splice" vertical pieces or "stack" horizontal" pieces of paintings and/or photographs to create a shifting landscape view. These collage works allow the viewer's mind to shift between realities or to glimpse extended worlds.

This is Week 49 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Jane’s story today.

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