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Jan Carlton - Featured Artist

One word in particular attracted Jan Carlton to her art form-- COLOR. “I love the vibrant colors I can get with pastel. Most people aren’t aware that the medium of pastel is made of pure pigment and a minimum of binder- the same pigment in oil and watercolor paints, and the colors you get are the closest to the natural dry pigments . Because it sits on the surface of the paper, the facets of the pigment particles reflect light and produce a kind of glow,” shares Jan, one of Splash Gallery’s talented artists.

Jan initially started painting in 2003 with watercolor which she still enjoys. In 2015 , she began experimenting with applying soft pastel to some of her watercolor paintings and got hooked. As a mostly self-taught artist, she has augmented her skills with pastels by taking workshops from some of the masters in this medium-- Alain Picard, Teresa Saia, Debora Stewart and Barbara Jaenike.

As with most artists, Jan spends more time planning her paintings than actually painting them. Jan explains, “I first choose a subject from either sketches I have done or photos I have taken myself. I then do a small monochromatic study to establish a composition. Sometimes I will also do a color study, especially if it is a complex or larger painting. I then do an underpainting to establish shapes and values using hard pastel and alcohol wash or watercolor and finally add the rich soft pastels as the final step.”

Jan notes that she actually has her husband to thank for taking art seriously. She’s a chronic doodler and revealed that her school notes are covered in little drawings she made to keep herself awake. “My husband took notice and suggested I actually do something with what was an obvious interest of mine. I then painted whenever I could in my free time while practicing academic Family Medicine. In 2019, I retired from medicine, was juried into Splash gallery and was able to pursue my career in art full time, Said Jan.

Jan is primarily a landscape and still life painter but light and color are really her subjects. She loves to “push” the colors and favor an impressionistic style over photorealism.

Jan is inspired by her association with Splash and vice versa. She remarked, “I love being part of a co-op gallery with the amazing local artists at Splash. I enjoy the support and camaraderie and also the opportunity to work directly with the public. I have had some of the most interesting conversations with our patrons. For example, I once had a former farmer comment on the accuracy of the hay bales that I had painted in a Virginia landscape and then he gave me a mini lesson on different types of bales and how they are created. It was fascinating.”


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