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Q&A with Award Winner Jane Thomas

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.

The Thoughts by Jane Thomas, watercolor
"The Thoughts" by Jane Thomas

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.

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