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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Etsy Excavations

Still diggin' up the goodies over at Etsy...
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This week, we're heading north to talk with Jeanette Jobson, up in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada! Jeanatte's shop, IslanderNL, is full of oil and watercolor paintings, prints and even lovely and delicate jewelry.

Tell us about yourself. How did you get your start as an artist? What's your own personal art history?

Like many creative people, I started dabbling in art at an early age. It wasn't until I lived in the UK that I really got serious about it and started looking for training in art. Most of my training came from Tom Greenshields, who was an artist and sculptor living in Devon, in the southwest of England. Tom trained at the Slade School of Art in London and was a member of the Royal Academy. I met him through life classes at his farm and he sort of 'adopted' me. I think I spent more time at his studio or in his house than I did at home.

I lived and breathed every medium under his tutelage for about 5 years and that is where my love of drawing came from. I took in and participated in exhibitions, networked with some of the best artists and creative minds of that time and was fed a diet of art and classical technique. I was very lucky.

I took workshops with other artists to learn additioanal techniques in mediums or specializations whenever I could.

I continued off and on in portraits of people and animals, then set art aside to some degree while my children were growing. There never seemed to be a lot of time or space available to dedicate to art but when I moved back to Newfoundland, and the children were grown, I started in again in earnest.

You live in Newfoundland and Labrador, which, according to my Google Earth is not only really far north, but really remote. How long have you lived there? How has that environment shaped your artistic vision?

The world's best kept secret is Newfoundland. Its an island in the North Atlantic complete with its own time zone. Its rugged, ancient, pristine and beautiful. Its a perfect spot for artists to be inspired through all senses and with all elements.

I live on a small farm and with an affinity for animals, they provide their own inspiration. The environment has a unique edge with rocks and trees and water dominating. While I'm not a landscape artist by choice, I have explored the water

more since joining Watermarks, another blog of nine individuals around the world who draw or paint water and its many forms, including fish, animals and birds. The potential is endless in this environment.


I see that you have primarily watercolor and oil paintings in your shop. Do you prefer one over the other, and if so, why? Do you have another favorite medium?

I was locked into the grey shades of graphite for many years and it is still my comfort zone. I know how the medium performs and I can create the tiny details that I so love at times. Charcoal and coloured pencil are my staples that are in every day use in my sketchbook and for times when painting frustrates me,.

From a practical point of view, colour sells and often has more visual appeal. Watercolour and oils provide their own set of challenges and creating something beautiful with these mediums is very satisfying. Both have their own appeal and if I had to choose I don't know if I could. Each one is my favourite while I am using it.

Tell us about Gyotaku. How did you get interested in the art form? Is it smelly? ;)

Gyotaku is fish printing or rubbing. A fish is inked then covered with paper and manipulated, providing a perfect anatomical print.

It all started with my drawing of a fish eye. A friend suggested that I might be interested in gyotaku which is a Japanese fish print technique from the 1800s. I looked into the technique and experimented with some local fish then I was hooked.

I usually go one step further with my gyotaku prints and add watercolour washes to enhance them, still leaving the original print visible. And now I have taught my first gyotaku workshop with some enthusiastic beginners, so I hope to see more of it locally.

There is a 'smell of the sea' when using fish to print with, depending on their freshness. I usually get about three days out of a fish before it heads to the compost. The smell, if any, dissapates quickly from the paper that you use to print on and I have never found it to be overwhelming at any stage of the process.


I like to end the interview with a list of favorites:

Who is your favorite artist?

From the past, Lord Frederick Leighton. This Victorian painter created masterpieces of detail and story in oils. His portraits are exquisite.

What is your favorite thing to listen to while you paint?

When I draw I can't listen to anything, it becomes too distracting. While I paint, especially larger impressionistic works, I listen to a variety of music. Currently its Emile Benoit, a Newfoundland fiddler, now dead; but with a unique voice and 'joie de vivre'. Nigel Kennedy's version of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi is a constant.

What is your favorite fish?

Capelin. They are perfect little fish that come to spawn on the beaches of Newfoundland each summer. Silvery with lovely irridescence, they make good eating, printing and painting. And tourists love them as a souvenir of the province.

What is your favorite book and/or author?

Very difficult to say as I have such a broad range that I dip into for both pleasure and for art reference. Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore is memorable, about the colonization of Australia. Mike Sibley, From Line to Life, is well thumbed in my studio for inspiration and reference.

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Thank you Jeanette! I really enjoyed this - it's so much fun to learn about how other artists work!