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Featured Artist: Janis Zroback

The prolific painter, Janis Zroback recently shared her advice on being a freelance artist. Her interest in painting began when she was a child and blossomed into a life-long passion. She is continually inspired by the world around her and this radiates from her beautiful paintings.

Read on to find out more about the artist behind the art.

Featured Artist Janis Zroback

"Redbubble proved to be a tour de force in my life...because of the exposure on the site, I was contacted by book publishers in Denmark who bought my works and used them to illustrate books of instruction, motivation, and inspiration for readers around the world..."

What role do you feel artists have in society?

I think the arts are essential to our survival as human beings. It is what sets us apart from the animal world and must always be nurtured and encouraged. Artists record history, they entertain, add colour to life, they take us beyond the boundaries of perception, and play a very important role in the shaping of society.

What type of art do you most identify with? 

I guess the closest art I respond to is the Impressionists, although I love the way Rembrandt and Turner both use light to express meaning and to direct the viewer to certain aspects of their paintings.

How has your work evolved over the past few years?

Over the past couple of years, I have been concentrating on more abstract and semi-abstract works. Recently a bird motif has appeared which really surprised me. After painting the first work in the series three years ago, I felt compelled to paint more birds, probably because every time l looked out of my bedroom window I saw so many frolicking around the large mirror in my garden.

Has this evolution changed the process you use for creating?

My method of painting has not really changed but has broadened and developed. In 2010 when my new studio was photographed for the American Magazine Studios, I was painting primarily in watercolour. However as the years have gone on, although I still paint in watercolour, I am surrounded by a host of other media, from Charcoal to Pastel, Gouache to Acrylic, and a multitude of inks, markers and everything I could possibly need to interpret the subject matter I am working on at the moment. Everything is within immediate reach.

"I think the arts are essential to our survival as human beings. It is what sets us apart from the animal world and must always be nurtured and encouraged. Artists record history, they entertain, add colour to life, they take us beyond the boundaries of perception, and play a very important role in the shaping of society."

"Cherries...Ripe" photographic print

Please share the story behind your own favorite artwork on Redbubble.

My favourites seem to change with the years, but Blue Night is one which has repeatedly found favour with viewers with over 23 thousand views; its popularity has never waned. However, Cherries…Ripe is really my all time favourite because it has an interesting story. I was waiting for the furnace repairman when he finally arrived several hours late, I was irritated because I had wasted so much painting time. After chit-chatting, he got down to it. Since I could not start on anything large because I needed to be available if he needed me, I decided to do a small still life while he worked in the furnace room next door to my studio. I started out by splashing some red Watercolour on soaking wet paper. He kept coming in and looking over my shoulder, repeatedly asking me, “So what are you doing now?”, “What colour will you do next?”, “Is that hard to do?”, “How long you been painting”?, “That looks easy…I guess I could do that”. In the end, it took two hours to fix something that should have taken him 20 minutes because he was watching me for prolonged periods. I was really shocked that anything worthwhile came out of the experience but as it turned out the painting was very successful.

Name one thing you cannot live without.

I cannot do without Arches paper and Winsor Newton paints, they go together. I don’t do trials, I don’t do sketches, but go straight to the Arches paper, usually 140 lbs Not, and on occasion 300 lb Not, and sometimes Hot Pressed and Rough…the challenge of working on the good paper means I must not mess it up.I also love working on handmade paper, my own or Indian, which I get from Thailand, as the uneven texture really appeals to me. For painting, I could not do without my WN Series 7 #12 brush.

If you were to eliminate one thing from your schedule, what would it be?

If I could eliminate the clean up that has to be done after each work is completed, that would be wonderful, but I really can’t start a new painting until I have removed traces of the previous one.

What advice would you love to have told yourself five or ten years ago?

If I had known ten years ago that I would be selling works online I would have signed every one [painting] on the front, now I have to sign several thousand of them in photoshop.

Is there a real-life situation that inspired you?

There is no one specific source of inspiration but when I decided to stay at home to raise my son, I needed some creative occupation. It was the height of the decorative painting era, and I decided to paint canvas floor cloths. When I inquired at a neighbourhood paper for advertising space I was thrilled that instead of an ad, they decided to do a column about me. Lo and behold a national newspaper picked up the story and gave me a full-length article with photos of my work in the Sunday supplement. From then on I never looked back. I went on to painting walls and floors, murals, furnishings, I got commissions from decorating magazines, television shows and the like. Finally, I decided to call it quits, promptly joined Redbubble, and my art career changed once more. Redbubble proved to be a tour de force in my life. Because of the exposure on the site, I was contacted by book publishers in Denmark, a trend forecasting company in the U.K, as part of a colour and trend forecasting. On several occasions, I have been contacted by students in various parts of the world, who chose to study my work as part of their curriculum and assignments and art licensing companies.

I was once asked if I would allow some of my works to be used in a presentation at the University of California for a Ph.D. thesis, “The influence of Arthur Schopenhauer on the topographies of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex and H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional New England landscape”. The letter said that my Hardy paintings expressed exactly what the candidate felt. The student went on to win a statewide competition and subsequently, the entire Hardy collection was purchased by an unknown buyer.

Share something you’d recommend every artist either read or listen to.

Every artist should read “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” at least once, in order to learn to see things as they really are.

Lastly, please share the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

The best piece of advice I was given as an artist was from an art critic, who told me to do whatever I wanted to do, to paint whatever I wanted to paint regardless of the current fashion.

"Blue Night" acrylic blocks

Stop by Janis Zroback’s shop to support an independent artist and be inspired by her gorgeous paintings.

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Jen W

Jen W

Redbubble Community Manager, Photographer, and Artist Champion

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