WHY DOES THE WORK OF AN ARTIST CHANGE OVER THE YEARS?

I am asked quite frequently why my work has changed a lot over the years. Given that next year I will. have been a professional artist for fifty years, this is a good time to write about this subject.

Just as we develop ourselves and become more of who we really are, our artistic voice does the same. With every life experience we change and grow – which in turn is mirrored in our art.

Teachers influence – plus our patrons and the demands of our audience. All of this along with the general socioeconomics, political and cultural climate that we find ourselves in have a play in the way we view the world and consequently are artistic voice.

It’s so important not to judge an artist on one painting or one exhibition. Learning about the life of an artist will help to understand their journey and changes in their work.

The next two photographs show where my journey as an artist began. I was sixteen years old when I received a scholarship to the Medway College of Arts in Rochester Kent. It is now under the umbrella of the University of the Creative Arts.

I was very fortunate to go there when the college was still at the old East Gate location, (shown here) rather than the new campus between Rochester and Chatham.

The Entrance to Medway College of Art in Rochester Kent (now part of University of the Creative Arts)

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Charles Dickens’ Swiss Chalet writing house in the grounds of East Gate. I have very happy memories of sitting in the little garden in front of the chalet with my fellow art students.

After art school I left for the United States where I lived and worked for twenty-eight years until I returned to the UK/Europe on 1993.

By 1975 (the year my daughter was born and my son was eight years old) I had my first solo exhibition at the Chester County Arts Association in West Chester, Pa. At the same time I was represented by Newman Galleries of Philadelphia who carried my ‘wildlife’ work.

First exhibition at The Chester Country Arts Association – November 1975

Even then I realised that I was not interested in taking the conventional path of getting galleries and having exhibitions. From the get go I wanted to explore my creativity in different ways and allow it to mirror my life journey.

After quite a few years of selling through galleries and exhibiting, I spent several summers with artist friends painting on Isle au Haut an island off the coast of Maine – part of Acadia National Park.

It was on this Island that I had an incredible awakening to the fact that all of life is interconnected. I knew then that I was the rock and the rock was me….at the time it was profound and has been the basis of so much of my painting and writing over the years.

One of the first large paintings of rock formations on Isle au Haut. Along with large canvases I was also producing many watercolours of these beautiful rocks. .

I would take these sketches and paintings back to my studio in West Chester where I would incorporate the human form.

This painting is about the moment we humans turn our backs on one another. We might stay connected for years, but the backs have been turned.

There are numerous paintings in this series, most of them in private collections. I continue to work on this theme up until this day.

One of the more recent paintings in this series. Note as the series has evolved and my life changed swans and hummingbirds have been added….Everything is interconnected….

Ar

Around 1984 Bonnie Paul an art consultant came into my life and suggested that I take on mural commissions which was a great way to make income. This was the beginning of our working together on many mural projects.

Here I am with my daughter Christie in front of the mural for The Philadelphia Heart Institute. These jobs were all about making income which would give me the freedom to paint what I wanted to paint. The spec for this painting – was Fairmount Park with the city of Philadelphia in the background.

Around the same time I purchased an old carriage house on Prescott Alley in West Chester Pa….It had no heat and running water but was a fantastic work space. Unbeknownst to me an architect Carl Massara was renovating an old building at the end of Prescott Alley at great cost. He was having trouble renting the space and asked if I would lend my creativity to the building….He gave me carte blanch.

I painted this mural plus I designed and built three large hanging mobiles. The bottom line is that after a large opening reception…all spaces in the building were rented out. Job done.

My friend `Patricia Strawbridge in front of the large mural I painted. Once again the theme was all about interconnections.

A detail from the large mural. oil on panel

Three kinetic hanging mobiles I designed and built for the building.

From the mid eighties until I returned to the UK/Europe in 1993 I produced a large series of still life paintings featuring quilts. These paintings are in private and corporate collections.

Symbolic autobiographical still life. – oil on canvas

Large oil on canvas self portrait. – note it is in my autobiographical still life.

Throughout the years my watercolours have been with me. After returning to the UK/Europe I began painting watercolour portraits – and can safely say that I have left a paper trail of portraits around Europe and in the States where I have returned many times to work.

In the UK/Europe I continued to paint murals….work on a project for children based on Christeve the Cat….and teach in many different countries.

So what about the hummingbirds?

I began incorporating them into some of my large paintings about forty years ago. They symbolise the ‘unseen’ energy and magic in the world. I believe that they are with me wherever I go.

Like everything else the hummingbirds are not separate….but interconnected with all the other work I have done and will do.

Remember never to judge an artist on one painting, one exhibition or for that matter one series of paintings………

I almost forgot to mention that I am writing a book entitled ‘Born with a Silver Egg Cup’

More can be read on FB

39 thoughts on “WHY DOES THE WORK OF AN ARTIST CHANGE OVER THE YEARS?

  1. Writing to Freedom

    I enjoy seeing more of your art and learning the story of your artistic life. It’s amazing to me that you’ve been painting for 50 years Janet. Kudos on knowing and following your passions and gifts.

    Reply
  2. Timothy Price

    What a wonderful journey through your history as an artist. You often have to change for all the demands of patrons and all the pressures of culture and politics, and, of course, your personal evolution with age, wisdom and what you are able to do at any given time.

    Reply
  3. Andrea Stephenson

    I would be surprised if an artist’s work didn’t change over a lifetime – life is change, after all. But I loved reading about the way your work and changed and seeing some of the amazing paintings.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I agree with you entirely….but you might be surprised to know how many people question me about the changes in my work….as if it were strange. I do try and explain that it’s been a long career and that change is not only necessary but wonderful……I thought it important to write a blog on the subject so I can point those that question to it:). Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. Janet

      Reply
  4. peter petterson

    Will always remember your humming birds Janet. My fractured ribs are almost healed from my unfortunate accident here at home. I discovered two wonderufl granddaughters who nursed me through those couple of months. I have a total of eight granddaughters from. eight to 28 yrs, plus five grandsons, and eight greats – four of each. A grandson( the rugby league player), has a son In Australia. An Aussie! Take care Janet..

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I am so pleased to know that you are recovering well and that your wonderful granddaughters have bene looking after you. You are so fortunate to be surrounded by such a wonderful family. You deserve it Peter:)XX

      Reply
  5. snowbird

    Wow, what a fascinating post from a fascinating lady. I just loved hearing your journey. All your work blows me away. I can’t wait to buy your book. Huge love and hugs.xxx

    Reply
  6. Candice Fields

    I think it’s inspiring to see how you chose to see the beauty and possibility in your art. How you chose relativity and persistence but still remained individualized throughout your journey. Because even though we create to share. The opinions of our onlookers are important, we want to move them, we want to share our passion. I am currently reading Art and Fear. I was curious to know how fear and art correlate with one another and this blog is refreshing to see one of the many different perspectives of its possibilities. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Candice for this excellent comment. I will read the book Art and Fear… I appreciate your telling me about it. I will comment again in the morning after a good night’s sleep when my mind is fresh. You have given me food for thought:) Janet

      Reply
    2. janetweightreed10 Post author

      morning Candice. I have just ordered Art and Fear which should be with me in a week or so. Interestingly I have not associated art with fear in my personal work and life. Rather I have seen it as an expression of joy and release. After I read the book I will contact you again. Thank you. Janet

      Reply
      1. Candice Fields

        You are very welcome Janet! Art and fear came to me in intuition. So I google the term and behold a book lol. I am on a journey myself, I am an ever-changing creative looking for my lane. I want to inspire, I want to engage and most importantly I want to grow continuously. Upon my own ongoing self discovery the most impactful lesson i have learned thus far is that fear can be used as fuel in producing positivity if you look at it positively, responsibly. Yes, please contact me! I would love to hear your thoughts.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        You are right….. I love the way different ideas and thoughts come to us. After I read the book I will let you know what I think….Again thank. you and it seems to me that you are on the right path….

  7. Emma Cownie

    Fascinating seeing how your work has developed – you are incredibly versatile. I just loved the massive murals (especially the wildlife one). I have never been represented by a gallery, as such, and have made my own way via social media. It has certainly given me more flexibility to follow new ideas and themes (and I have noticed how many gallery artists seem to paint pretty much the same thing all the time) although it is a very unceratin way to make a living.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I am with you Emma. I have found galleries to be very confining…and have chosen to make my own way with my own work and with my teaching. Years ago I was offered teaching situations in very good schools, but knew that It would not work for me. All these years later I am so pleased I took that pathway. As for social media I think it’s fantastic for artists, as you have found out….it gives us a freedom and at the same time the opportunity to paint what we want to paint. Thanks so much for the comment.

      Reply
      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I agree with you completely. I love it for many reasons, but when I do take time out…it feels lovely not to be beholden to it. Hope you enjoy a good weekend. Janet ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. matthewbahai

    Dear Janet, Taking your idea “This painting is about the moment we humans turn our backs on one another. We might stay connected for years, but the backs have been turned” and running with it, I wrote for my reflection this “Grief is in the bones of a world in dejection. Its back turned on those whose love it failed to see had the potential to transform its life. See beyond the grief and take hope that the East will not turn its back on the West.”
    Just watched this delightful new age music video which you will see has a humming bird used in it which brought my thoughts back to your blog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZfFSZ_V3R0

    Reply
  9. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, thank you for this wonderful illustrated and narrated autobiography spanning an artist’s creative years. It tells me things about you I didn’t know and am so happy to have learned about. I’m so pleased that throughout those years you were one, working hard, two, experimenting and expanding your abilities, and three growing as a woman and artist–in your terms, your voice and your existential being changing, evolving, taking new shapes and dimensions,and new friends and new places, all refflected in your magnificent work and directions your life followed.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you David for reading and commenting. As I am sure you are aware this shows an overview of my life during that period….there was so much more going on. Given that I am asked so many times why my work has changed over the years I thought it a good time to write this. Not sure if you are on Facebook or not? A Couple of months ago someone posted one of my large murals which triggered my writing short entries each day about my journey. I have just posted one today. I continue to write my book….which as I mentioned before I am writing in vignettes….there really is so much. At last it is seasonably cold here – something I am enjoying…although not everyone would agree with me:). Having said that compared to the cold you experience…it’s nothing:). I hope you and the family enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving and can now get into the holiday mode. With my HUB connections – this now means that I have lots on this year:) Janet

      Reply

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