Last week, we brought you a conversation with photographer Sandy LeBrun-Evans about her award-winning print, Truck. Part of this month’s all-media show, Truck shares a wall with the other award-winner, The Thoughts. Jane Thomas’s first-place watercolor self-portrait won the Gallery Director’s Award. We asked her to tell us more about it.
What is the inspiration for The Thoughts?
When I rest my chin in my hand and stare at the blank wall, I am often asked, “penny for your thoughts?” I decided to paint my first self-portrait that depicts the most familiar expression of mine.
Portraits are one of your favorite subjects. What goes into a successful portrait?
I feel I get more successful results when I choose a subject that intrigues me. This might be the reason I seldom work on commissioned portraits. While I alter the clothing or the hair of the model during the painting process, I think it is important to attain a likeness by striving to retain distinctive features of a subject. I also feel I am more successful when I paint spontaneously without overworking the piece.
Is this watercolor part of a series?
Not yet, but I will give serious thought to starting a series with The Thoughts. I believe that receiving the award for my first self-portrait on the first month of a new year must be a sign of good things to come.
You use mostly watercolor, acrylic, pen and ink, and Sumi in your work. Why do you gravitate toward these mediums?
I am most familiar with these mediums because I used these every day working as an illustrator for over 30 years. I majored in oriental art, using and teaching Sumi for years; it became one of the most loved mediums of mine.
What is your creative process like?
I spend many hours studying and composing the subject I chose to paint. I experiment and practice with a various mediums and methods until I determine what I will use. Since I majored in oriental art in college, I am used to the many hours of practicing on newspaper before the final strokes or painting are done on rice paper. When I feel I’m ready, I prefer the final execution of the painting to be done rather swiftly and spontaneously.
What do you want the viewer to come away with?
I hope the viewers feel that I continuously experiment with materials or techniques to learn all that I can in order to develop something new and different. Ideally, I want them to enjoy the outcome.