Painter talks about artistic freedom

Painter talks about artistic freedom

By Page H. Gifford

Jane Prete – or Janie, as she is known – might be considered an artist’s artist. Her stylistic work is the essence of an artist who is unafraid to explore beyond her limits and make new discoveries. Prete, who examines things at different angles and executes them in different ways, creates art that an onlooker cannot help but notice from across the room.

Prete’s work is soft but bold in her favorite medium of watercolor, which in itself is unusual, since watercolors are typically soft and muted. Her abstract approach to her subjects makes them fun and humorous. An example is Soft Landing, which was the result of a childhood memory of blowing bubbles.

Prete arrived at this present place in her artistic journey because her creativity was never restricted.

“Being an only child, my interest in art began very early in elementary school when I discovered I had an imagination. I was free to doodle, play with color and create masterpieces. No one ever told me that my tree did not resemble a tree or my people had no arms,” she said. “My inspiration for art deepened as I realized this wonderful plaything that I discovered could be continued and improved as time passed. As I grew older, married and was working while raising my family, my imagination was always churning and manifesting itself in other ways.”

An artist friend suggested she try watercolor.

“That began a process that propelled me into needing an art mentor, taking workshops and reading all I could to develop the tools I needed to continue on a journey I knew I loved immediately,” she said.

Among her favorite artists who inspire her are Andrew Wyeth, one who seems to top every artist’s list, and Carol Nelson and Maxine Masterfield. One can see the influence of the post-modernist flavor and abstracts of Nelson and Masterfield, particularly their fluid colors and seamless blending by allowing the colors to flow into one another.

“It is almost impossible to determine my favorite artists because of my appreciation of each discipline and genre fills me with love for their personal journey,” Prete said. While she demonstrates a similar style to Nelson and Masterfield, she makes it unique to her with her flowing, drip method, in which the colors drip down the paper, bleeding into one another. This is the technique seen in her Red Canyon, with its bold and vibrant reds.

“My style is me, and I believe one’s style comes from freedom from fear, love of color and allowing my inner reserve to just go with it. I was once described as a chemist-artist since I use anything I can get my hands on to complete a project,” she said. “Striving to control the paint becomes a fruitless endeavor for me. I enjoy the watercolor, inks, or even acrylics working in a partnership along with me so the painting does not appear forced.”

She said she has been fortunate in her painting career and has enjoyed solo and group shows. Her work has been exhibited in many museums and galleries and she has won numerous awards. A new hospital outside Raleigh, N.C., commissioned Prete and other artists to submit work for the hospital’s permanent collection. She is currently exhibiting in two galleries in Clayton, N.C., and Gallery 527 in Scottsville. She was president of Clayton, N.C., Visual Arts and is a current member of the Fluvanna Art Association. She added that teaching is a real joy for her and periodically she has a few artists meet in her home studio.

Regarding her painting journey, she said, “It is a joy, therapeutic and boundless fun to allow accidents, magic and the unexpected to happen. Painting styles evolve over time and my painting today has become a very different expression than years ago. Life is always changing, flexible and fluid.”


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