We had the good fortune of connecting with Jane Kelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jane, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
As far back as I can remember, there was never any question in my mind to be anything other than an artist. That was the answer I gave when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Luckily my mom (who was an artist herself) recognized this in me and supported my blossoming creativity by giving me art supplies for birthdays and holiday gifts. I was shy and somewhat dyslexic, and always felt that art was a clear channel I could turn to as a way to express myself.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to go beyond the boundaries of traditional mosaic art, using unusual materials, subject matter and injecting humor and whimsy when appropriate. No two pieces are alike. I like to do “clean” finish work, details matter to me. I’ve learned much in the “doing”.. solutions present themselves, sometimes by trial and error and problem solving. In the past, I sold my art at markets and shows. When I focused on sales, I found it could be stressful and depressing. Trying to make a living as an artist often took the joy out of it. I know this sounds naive, but I had thought that since I was a “good” person, and I worked hard, financial success would be mine eventually. One day I realized that that was just magical thinking, and that although it was a nice idea, it wasn’t necessarily true, and it wasn’t in fact true in that moment. What was missing for me was a steady income. So I got a part time job that I love (making hats) and the steady income I needed, which has removed my struggle. I feel much more free to be my relaxed artist self.
In the past few years, a few members of my family and a few friends have passed away. I get the feeling that life is short, why not do things that bring me joy, and bring joy to others, and to make the most of my creative gifts. This is what I’m excited about. Taking myself less seriously and letting go, appreciating the richness in day to day life and the natural beauty of my surroundings is pretty exciting too.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sorry to say, I don’t care to entertain in the city. I would take a friend up the coast, stopping at little places to eat that we would discover along the way. I’d stop for wine tasting, and poke around any interesting shops, stop at art studios, local museums, and take it one day at a time. I like exploring new places, my favorite being on the coast.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My loving, patient, talented and stable mother gave me my start. Her encouragement and enthusiasm was steady, even when I doubted myself. With that as my foundation, I came to trust the magic of the creative spirit that flows through my life and brings me such joy. Along with painting and crafting, my mom also taught me how to sew by hand, and then with our old sewing machine. This when I my love affair with textiles and creative sewing began. I was mesmerized by fabric designs and how did fabric get printed?
All my art classes in grade school and high scroll added to my passion to keep learning new things.
\My friend Lynn Segerbloom, creator of the first Rainbow Flag for Gay Pride Day, taught me how to tie dye when I was 15. That lead to many years of experimenting with dye application and techniques, mostly on fabric made into clothing, but also, curtains, bedding and furniture, yarn…you get the idea.
I got interested in textile design when a friend told me about a course called “Textile Design As A Profession”, taught by Zelda Rothman in Berkeley. I attended this vocation course and leaned all about designing patterns, using a a number of painting techniques. This course gave me the skills and confidence to creatively execute quality designs for all surface applications. When my dream of having a career as a textile designer didn’t go anywhere after a few design jobs, I threw in the towel and started cooking as a private home chef just to take a break . That is when I took a mosaic workshop from Elizabeth Raybee in Potter Valley CA, where she lived at the time. I soon realized all my design skills applied to mosaic art, yay! For the past 22 years, I’ve been immersed in the exploration and endless variety of materials and subject matter that is mosaic art. The Mosaic Art Institute in Oakland offered many classes that broadened my horizons. I’ve been commissioned to do public art as well as many residential installations.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve been learning the millinery art of hat making under the guidance of Jennifer Webley at The Hattery In Santa Rosa CA. Here I’m finding another world of endless creative possibilities, working with a variety of textures, colors, shape and form, happy to explore another avenue for letting my creative muse express itself.
I’m grateful to all my teachers, and to the teacher of life, which keeps me humble and excited about art.
Facebook: Jane Kelly