What’s your background?
In college I studied fine art then worked as a graphic artist for 12 years. It was in college I fell in love with watercolour. In 1994 I went into planning and procurement and worked my way to Director of Planning and Procurement. During that time days were spent thinking in numbers. No art involved. As a matter of fact I did no painting to speak of for over 30 years. Being a wife, mother and business professional left no time to paint or I was just too tired. In 2011 I started painting again and had to teach myself from the basics on up. I am still learning and hope I will always be discovering something new.
Does your artwork come from that background?
My chosen medium is watercolour and I fell in love with it back in college.
What are you trying to say with your work?
My paintings are all done from places I have been and all those places are within easy walking distance from a main road. I believe beauty is all around us every day. I am able and lucky enough that I can slow down and take in the beauty of nature. In my art I aim to share with others that beauty and power of nature and the world around us.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
My primary medium is watercolour and I love the serendipity of it. Watercolour is really about the water and you really can’t tame the water, you can only go with the flow. I love the truthfulness of watercolour. Mistakes show and since it is a transparent medium there is no covering up. I love the way the pigments granulate or blend with each other. I love watching the paint dry.
I also enjoy doing some digital art. I still need to upgrade my system to make digital art less time consuming for me.
Do you work in a studio?
When I started painting again, most of my work was done at the kitchen table. Then I moved an old drawing table into the corner of a bedroom that served as a guest bedroom and also as the home office. But I had a whole corner to myself and all my supplies in one spot. I could start and stop a painting and leave everything as is ready to begin again any time. Once our daughter moved out, we converted her room to my studio. My other studio is the outdoors. I go with several friends to paint en plein air. We try to get out 2 or 3 times a month.
To keep activity up on social media one has to be consistent. Even not posting for a week or so makes you fall down in the pecking order. You have to keep beating that drum. There is no vacation for an on line artist.
Attached is a photo of my indoor studio and it shows the colour chart I made so I would know how my paints work together. It also shows way too many brushes. I probably use only 10 of them, some are even from my college days over 40 years ago. Some are for oil painting, but I use them for watercolour anyway. I just can’t bear to throw them out. I also have an ugly brush. It is an older but still decent brush I gave a haircut. It is whacked here and there. It is really hard to do a tight painting with it. The painting on my page “Yorba Trees En Plein Air” was done entirely with my ugly brush. I love that brush!
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
I could not do without my paints. I could paint on other papers than those I use, and I could use a stick to draw with if I had to. I could even chew on the end of the stick to make it more like a brush, and just use the paint straight from the tube. I would have to have the paints because I love the colours.
Who are your biggest influences?
When I first started painting again John Pike, Zoltan Szabo, and Nita Engle were my teachers. I read and worked thru their books. Brenda Howell is a well known artist and a personal friend. While she was living in my area, I was lucky enough to meet her and go outdoors painting with her. She is absolutely fearless when it comes to her pursuit of art. I want to be fearless too. I am still a long way from that.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
My favourite is “A Sunny Path” probably because it is my most recent and because it made me happy while painting it.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
My best watercolours are done in one day, taking from four to eight hours. I think it is because I am in the same emotional state during that painting session. If I leave a painting for a day or two it looks to me as if someone else finished it. Most people don’t notice it but I do. I am my own worst critic!
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
I think if I have enough contrast in the painting and if I am finding myself getting too detailed away from the area of interest, then the painting is finished. It is easy to walk away if it is near the end of the day. I have successfully finished in a good happy spot. It gives me a bit of confidence to start the next day. If it is not at the end of the day then I just start thumbnails for the next painting.
What project are you working on now?
It is a watercolour from a photo I took years ago in Laguna Beach of a sailboat on the distant water.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
It was from my doctor. We were talking about my paintings and how I worried about them. I worried that they were not good enough and it was making me physically ill. She said I should not worry, just put it out there. If some guy could make millions from a pet rock, then for sure my art was “good enough”. You just never know what people will like. I have found this to be true. Just keep painting and do what makes you happy.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
The first painting I sold was while I was in college. I don’t even remember the title, but it was a tree lined path and the buyer loved how she felt. It was as if she could just walk down that path. That has influence me ever since.
It is great to not have to sell your work to survive. I am in that position these days and can feel free to do and paint what pleases me. I think that will ultimately let me paint better art.
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
It is a lot of work to drive people to one’s site. I do not enjoy the marketing aspect of being an artist. I would like to spend the time painting instead. However if I am to be true to my inner artist, it is my responsibility to push the art out there. A friend of mine is a marketing guru in my book. She sets aside time everyday to market on social media and it is paying off.
I have read many of the discussions on Fine Art America and there is a lot of information there on how to market on line. I know I need to do more of that but I am not all that savvy with the social media world and don’t even have a smart phone. I need to upgrade. I recently got a new keyboard! No more sticky keys. At least there is that.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I continue to paint or sketch every day. Sometimes it is just play and it does not produce a finished painting. My main goal right now is to focus on my style. As I was learning how to paint again, I was trying out different ways of painting, different techniques, different brushes, different papers. They all influence the way a painting will look. So now I am sticking to a smaller variety of techniques, brushes and papers. I will always experiment but am trying to do it in a more thoughtful way.
I talked with Mr. Jean Stern the Executive Director of The Irvine Museum. He is a great resource on what galleries look for and why they operate the way they do. It helped me understand why it is so important to have a consistent style. The short of it is so galleries know how to market you. It is the same for on line galleries that curate their artists.
My next step is to get into an online gallery that will market my work.
I have done exhibitions at local community Art-Walks. Local community art walks have you place your art in clothing shops or even beauty shops. Most people don’t go there to purchase art. They go there for the snacks and wine. One can make contacts there, but not much in sales. I aim on getting into the Laguna Art Walk at some point soon as this is a gallery art walk with more than 30 galleries participating in the event. At this Art Walk people do come there to purchase art.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I price my originals by general size.
I price my prints based on what I see others are asking for their prints.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
The only social media I use is Facebook. You will find me on Facebook as Janice Sobien. https://www.facebook.com/janice.sobien.7
Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?
My biggest annoyance is the way watercolour is viewed as a lesser art form. The artworld, at least in the United States, views oil paintings as more valuable than a watercolour. Slowly this view is changing but not as much as I would like.
What advice would you give new artists?
Paint, paint and paint some more. Even superstar athletes have bad days, but even their bad days are better than their first day in their sport. It is the same with artists.
Not everything has to be pretty. What I want my art to do is hit someone in an emotional way. That is what I aim for. I am still striving.
Have you got hobbies?
Keeping up my photo reference file could be counted as a hobby. I take tons of photos.
Where are you based?
I live in Orange County California.
Sara by Stevie Nicks
Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones
The Sound of Silence by Disturbed
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
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