3/12/2013

Spring: Janet Fish

 Birdcage and Daffodils oil on canvas 56"x 54" 2009

 Spring Party 

 Marzipan from Erice oil on canvas 60" x 70"

 Janet Fish (title unknown)

Artist Amy Mann cites Janet Fish as a major influence, and suggests that we look at her paintings for our theme of spring. Amy contributed the image of "Spring Party", saying:
This painting by Janet Fish (I have the poster hanging over my piano) is titled "Spring Party", and inspired me to host my own spring party many years ago. I guess the use of yellow, and the tulips, make it feel like spring. 
Janet Fish was the visiting artist when I was at Kent State for a summer painting program back in 1977. I was having trouble with muddiness in my paint, and was very frustrated. When Janet came around, I asked her how she kept her colors so fresh. She just said, "Freshness is an illusion!" and walked away. I wrote that quote in my sketchbook and wondered about it for many years. Then in 1995 I took a workshop that she taught, and I asked her what she had meant by that enigmatic statement. She laughed and didn't remember saying that, but said that the key to keeping your colors fresh is to always use very clean brushes. Duh!

Janet Fish chases the light; she has a studio in Vermont with a window facing east, and a window facing west. She paints her morning still lifes at the east window and her afternoon ones at the west window. She lets the sunlight stream across her subject, painting each item as it looks most brilliant. 

Fish studied art at Yale from 1960-63, when realism in painting was considered old hat. She says that she craved the "physical presence of objects", and painted in a realistic style despite a lack of encouragement from her male teachers. She was advised to not seek a career as a professional artist and teacher, but to find a position at a girl's school. Ever since her first solo show in New York sold out, she's been happily able to support herself with her brilliantly colored and riotously busy still lifes. 

There is amazing clarity to Fish's still lifes, the sense of space and atmosphere suppressed by her clear depiction of the all the edges of her objects.

I particularly like her still lifes that show a bit of landscape behind them. 
Anyone who is feeling half-assed about being an artist should get out.

I had this attitude that it was going to take time for my work to grow. I had to develop skills to do what I wanted and I didn't really expect it was going to happen rapidly. - Janet Fish


The month of March will be dedicated to the season of spring. Have some favorite paintings of spring by other artists you'd like to share? Please email your suggestion (not your own work please) with a few words to describe why you like it. Be sure to include the title, medium, size and year.

10 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I've included Amy's comment in the body of this post.

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  2. Wonderful spring colours and a glorious lightness in these paintings. Thank you for introducing me to Janet's work.

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  3. Refreshing..light, beautiful.., complicated.I have always loved Janet Fish's work..Thank you

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  4. Taryn, This blog never fails to amazeme! You provide endless inspiration! Thank you a million times!

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  5. I've always loved her work. I have an old book called "Realists at Work" by John Arthur and in it there's a wonderful interview with Janet Fish as well as other painters (Jack Beal, Chuck CLose, Joseph Raphael). I recommend it.

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    1. Julia, I have that same book! It's been in my studio for years, and I look at it from time to time. Yes, it has a great interview with Janet Fish.

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  6. Is there a poster or print of Spring Party anywhere?

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    1. I have the poster framed in glass I would like to sell. I have found this same print online titled Never in Paradise. I cannot find anyone else selling it anywhere. If you are still interested, my e-mail is jtkirk1701a@yahoo.com

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