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Jane Thomas’s “Raining Window”

Raining Window, watercolor on synthetic paper, by Jane Thomas. Winner of the Carolyn Zakaski Memorial Watercolor Award.

There’s no more quintessential wet-weather experience than staring out a rain-streaked window, and that familiar scene is the subject of December’s award-winning watercolor by Jane Thomas.

We’ve interviewed Thomas before, when she told us about a self-portrait and her creative process. Five years later, we took the opportunity to check back in:

What was your goal with Raining Window?
Jane Thomas: My goal with Raining Window was to depict raindrops on a window realistically to achieve the feeling of wetness. At the same time, I wanted to add some abstract elements to a realistic painting by using limited colors for greater balance throughout the painting and a nonabsorbent paper for watercolor to drip naturally, creating interesting textures.

I appreciate the juror Robert Yi’s comment on my painting: “The artist expertly used the water medium to indicate the rain. The composition teeters between realism and abstraction creating visual interest.”

Museum Visitors, watercolor by Jane Thomas, from the July 2014 All-Media Exhibit.

What made you paint this window?
I like taking photos through the windows of cars, buses, and buildings. I especially enjoy photographing wet windows that create reflections and interesting textures from rain or snow. I am not an outdoor painter, and these reference photos are memory aids that provide visual information for painting back in the studio.

I composed the painting from three photographs that reminded me of familiar experiences looking out the window while hesitating to head out to the car in the wet parking lot. I hope the viewers of the raining window recollect similar experiences as I had on a rainy day.

The Thoughts by Jane Thomas won the Gallery Director’s Award in January 2012.

You’ve mentioned you spend hours studying and preparing before executing the final painting. What was process like for this painting?
My composition process was to add or subtract elements from each of three reference photos and reposition them in the painting for greater effect. With the composition prepared, I experimented with dripping colors onto various papers and decided to use synthetic paper with a smooth, nonabsorbent surface that flows color freely. I tried not to be too controlling and let the watercolor create interesting textures on its own. I had total freedom to paint on the paper and then lift colors right back to white to repaint because the paper was tough enough to take a fair amount of abuse from erasing and repainting.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on several sketches from the fabulous wildlife photos I received from a friend. This is the preparation to start some mini-sized (8″×12″) paintings using sumi ink. I will use ink on Arches cold press paper, not rice paper.

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