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Scarlet james


Glimpsing an insight into the work of Jane Andrews

When I first saw the work of Jane Andrews on Pixiport I presumed her images were digitally manipulated as they are so intricate, clever and masterly executed.

Then when I learned they were oil paintings, I was even more impressed.

They are Power Full and in the nicest possible way .. weird and wonderful....fantastic fantasy .. or they???

I was also immensely impressed with her Curriculum Vitae.. it is extremely wide and varied.

So I became intrigued and asked her how and where it all began.

Hi Jane .When and how did you discover you had artistic abilities...

Did you draw, sketch, scribble as a child.. were you given a paint box, supported and encouraged or was it a secret escape, journey, adventure?

Jane: Like all children I had a rich and varied imagination! I have two specific memories around creativity as a child, first was my attempt to customize my new bedroom, having been given my own after sharing with my brother, drawing and scribbling on the wall, I was probably 3 or 4, for which I was punished and moved back in with my brother, probably only for a night or two, but it was a shock and has stayed with me! I also remember a hedge up the road where we lived with light coloured leaves and being wonderfully content decorating it with flowers and all sorts, quite on my own and out of sight.

And yes, I always enjoyed drawing, I won the odd art prize after the age of twelve, but it was never seen as a particular asset, I was offered a place at Epsom Art school at 15, having attended Saturday morning life drawing classes there, but this was vetoed by my parents. From that time I was busy being a rebel without a cause! I did however continue to draw, painting faces on the wall of a bedroom in London I remember, and the odd life class etc., I did do some serious rebelling for a while, eventually though I found myself a job learning to cut hair in the Kings Road in London and did hair and makeup on photographic shoots and some Television work.

Scarlet : That all sounds exciting and obviously good experience for your later work and `eye`.

Did you ever go to art school ?

Jane: Yes I did but not until after I married and had a family; my son Tom and daughter , Florence.

I went to the Farnham Art School in `91 for three years which allowed me time and space to create and a chance to find my own voice.

Incidentally, looking back now at the work I did there, I can see a very clear progression, it has followed its own line.

The way I paint is the way I think, an interpretation of the way I work things out, and in that nothing has changed , just matured with me.

Nothing is simple and I could never grasp the whole gambit of levels and workings that make my work the way it is. I know different parts at different times, but to explain what and how is beyond me.

Scarlet: I agree, explanations about ideas and those magic moments are exhausting and I personally am just grateful for them when they happen.

But was there a special day, moment, when you received a `Wake up` Eureka call?

Jane: Yes, there were a couple of Eureka moments regarding oil painting as a medium. I remember one day walking along after having attended an adult education class where I`d been trying out some oil painting, and it suddenly hit me that this was something I could DO.

Because when I was younger and I hadn`t been allowed to pursue art at Epsom Art College for some reason I felt I couldn`t DO art, and that part of me had gone to sleep, now this was the moment it woke up.

Also around that time I saw the work of the Scottish artist, Steve Campbell on television. They featured his large canvases of Men in Suits; I loved them.

Within the year I decided to take a BA Fine Art course and I haven`t stopped working since.

Scarlet: Well done, you have certainly created a large body of work and a wealth of interesting characters in your paintings.

Which begs the question , are your characters friendly; are they confidants or do they symbolize traits and qualities in you, others or both, maybe they are created to protect, project, diffuse and protest.

Whatever the answer they are intriguing and sometimes unsettling.

You also have a particular and unique technique and eye for displaying your visions and ideas I wonder, where and how did they originate and it all come together ?

Jane: You ask about my relationship with my characters in my work. I love them all. If that connection isn`t there they have to go.

What do they represent? Whatever is on my mind, they are characterizations of whatever is engaging me at the time.

My work deals mostly with character, identity and survival strategies.

They are my attempt to understand and interpret and express reality as I grapple with it, consciously and unconsciously.

Whilst intellect plays its part, I rely more on instinct than reason.

The paintings evolve organically.

I try not to work directly from an idea as this lends itself to illustration, but rather approach it from the side; the more arbitrary the starting point the more authority is given to the painting.

I steal from anywhere; inspiration has come from a snatched conversation, a photograph in the paper or a drape from a Caravaggio.

Scarlet: Yes, I admit I look at the masters, and wish, if only but then something triggers off an idea, a sense of earnest wanting to create which is what I think the greats encourage us to do . And then as you say a soupcon lifts our imagination up and away.

I wonder, how do you manage to work on your pieces, do you have a studio?

Jane: Yes I do have a studio, without it I don`t think I could survive, let alone work as I love painting on large canvases where there is room for invention. Although there is something too to be said for small canvases where throwaway one-liners can develop a new line of inquiry.

Scarlet: That sounds very sensible. How does your `setup` in your studio begin ?

Do you listen to music while you work or prefer silence?

And what is the one thing you can not start without?

Jane: I listen to BBC Radio 4 a lot, and get hooked on to odd cds .

If I find a new one I like to play it again and again, in the end it is like a mantra, but then it is done to death and I can`t listen to it again for ages, sometimes years. Silence is good too.

And `what can`t I start without`? The answer to that is, I must have the place to myself; sometime ahead of when I begin, with no fear of interruption so I can totally immerse myself in the process.

Scarlet: And then what becomes the most exciting part of the creation?

Jane: I am the happiest when the painting takes priority over everything. The most exciting time is when the starting point has come. I spend a lot of time trying things and then getting rid of them, but when something comes up that will not be got rid of, that`s the best bit.

Scarlet: That is very interesting. Your characters do `live` in your pictures, they are quite playful, fun but also tinged with a sense of, is fear too strong a word ? Maybe apprehension? Plus symbols of ages past and present are seemingly placed around the characters all adding mystery and interest for the viewer, I particularly like Monkey, I think I know how Monkey feels.

I also feel the work is full of colour but not taken over by it .

Jane: mmmm Colour . I have to make an effort with colour as I feel a lot of my paintings can be dark, colour-wise , with raw umber, cobalt, blue etc. I seem to want the stormy , dark atmosphere.

The images are quite like the colour; I have a propensity for melodrama, so I tend to subvert with humour.

Scarlet: Well for me it all works wonderfully, and I wish you much on going success and happiness. And many congratulations for all your awards and work so far .

Thank you Jane for sharing and giving us a glimpse into your busy life as an artist, wife and mother.

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