We had the good fortune of connecting with Janis Commentz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janis, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
As a third generation LA artist – seeing beauty and expressing the beautiful has always been important to me. Beauty is not just a pretty image – but the essence of truth and life. Kindness, grace in a real setting. As a young child, art materials were put into my hands early, and I often visited museums and galleries. I began to discern at an early age how the visual image speaks to me. The poet, John Keats said, “’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Early on, I loved drawing people and developed my skill. Moving from the coast to the desert had a profound effect on how I view landscape, but I still feel the need to express the essence and truth of the vista. Most recently, my painting has reflected travels to France and experimenting with how light and fluidity can change my painting. The biggest lesson I have learned is to continue to encourage workshop participants and those around me – as painters and as storytellers.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a figurative and landscape painter of the California tradition which to me means a bit of landscape painting – preferably plein air, a bit of figurative painting, often abstracting images with a dose of impressionism and loose brushstrokes. My two most important influencers, my mother and her twin brother, grew up in Hollywood. I have been in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree for forty years. Southern California culture and geography keep me excited about painting.
What sets me apart is decades of practice. When someone asks, “How long did that take you?” my answer is, “Decades.” Skill is important. Practice is crucial. I do not remember a time without pencils, pens or paintbrushes in my hand. Talent exists, but without practice-whether you paint, sing play an instrument or a sport, you will not progress.
Then one can explore new paths. As a child, I accompanied my mom to paint in the LA Harbor and California Coast. I spent most of my free time in middle and high school painting. During my many years teaching high school art, I was continually demonstrating, developing new projects, keeping up with current trends and learning about new materials.
And I like to experiment. If I imagine a new technique or learn about new materials, I try it. My parents were do it yourselfers. My mother had a ceramics business and designed her own molds—so I learned a lot about different materials. In Joshua Tree, I facilitated a weekly life drawing group for almost a decade.
Desert heat, light, cold, and open space have profoundly affected my painting, both landscape and figurative. In a recent series of paintings, I explored how the human figure confronts harsh climate with intense sunlight or night skies sprinkled with constellations. Composition and color often replace the demand for literal elements. I actually have a favorite Joshua Tree and although I do not hug it, I paint it often. As a California artist, the less traveled road has nurtured my painting.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of my favorite spots are definitely a little bit out of LA – the Joshua Tree area where I have lived several decades: Black Rock Campground and hiking trails, Pioneertown – a stage set town originally built by Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry, and the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Closer to LA–in the South Bay where I grew up, Malaga Cove Plaza and Wayfarers Chapel built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Palos Verdes

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The greatest influence came from my mother and her twin brother, both artists. They were products of Hollywood High School and UCLA during the golden years of the city. Besides developing exceptional technical skills as artists, they encouraged and nourished my passion. They provided materials, guidance, exposure to new art forms, and travel experiences…and always engaged in meaningful discussions about the arts—in many forms and as it was evolving through turbulent times. And as fraternal twins—they were a bit of a yin and yang in their approach. There are definitely seeds of their influence in my work.

For the past ten years, I have met with a group of women painters to discuss art and our individual projects, to encourage one another, and to periodically exhibit together. Here’s a shout out to the Dialog Group!

Website: https://www.janiscommentz.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janiscommentz

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janis-commentz-24a9b033?utm_source=share&utm_campaign=share_via&utm_content=profile&utm_medium=ios_app

Twitter: https://twitter.com/janisjtartist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Janis-Commentz-Artist-396062120461462

Youtube: https://youtube.com/@janiscommentz7732?feature=shared

Image Credits
Photo credit Krystal Kenney – Janis in Paris photo

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