Jane Ann Sweeney is a woodcut artist - a rare thing these days. Jane Ann is one of three artists featured at our group show on November 3rd. We caught up with her this week to hear more about her art, how she works, and what's inspiring her right now:
Q: Tell us about your art background.
A: My mom is an artist and had my brother and I painting watercolors of ponds and oceans when we would go on beach trips when we were little. When I got into school and had art classes was when I started to realize I might have talent in this area. Art is satisfying but is a lot of work. I can look back and see I have always chosen concentrations that require involved technical application or rendered my subject matter with extreme detail. I feel like the art I have chosen requires a lot of precision or focus. I think one day I will paint or create with wild abandon but I have yet to find that medium or release yet. I thought that medium was in the theatrical arts so I lived in Los Angeles pursing acting for most of my twenties and there definitely is a more immediate return of the effects of your expression.
I originally went to Clemson and majored in Art. I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts there in 2003, 5 year plan, and graduated from the Clemson Honors Program. I will always feel grateful for that path because I later pursued a degree in Nursing and was well on my way because of the general education requirements from the Honors College at Clemson.
Q: What drew you to printmaking?
In my freshman year design class at Clemson University, National Championship!!, we studied each concentration offered in the program and created works in each: ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, and printmaking. I enjoyed learning about and exploring all of them but when I was introduced to the canvas of white pine shelving and the tools of metal gouges and wire brushes I was fascinated. I could create a work of art that was influenced and utilized the grain in a piece of wood. Maybe I like wood grain and little more than the next person but the influence of the wood fascinated me and always surprised me every time I would carve something and then pull a print. I could never really tell you how it was going to turn out until I inked the wood and pulled my first print. Same with each layer/color and the carving between them.
Woodcuts forced me to take my incredibly detailed and "realism" art and abstract it a little bit to work with a knot in the wood or the grain or the limitations of the my tools. I couldn't force my image to be absolutely stunning because of "how accurate it was to real life" and "wow, that looks like a photograph." I used to think that my art could stand on it's own and had value because of how well I was able to render subject matter super realistically, for example, in the case of a drawing, how much it could look like a photograph. That seemed to be how I defined a good artist when I was younger and even into adulthood. While I can appreciated immensely that art that is fascinating because it is rendered by hand and not a camera, I have come to realize the value in how a piece of art makes you feel with it's colors, it's strokes, it's subject matter.
Originally my art was purely focused on the angst of youth and the struggles or beauties of being female and I focused on subject matter that was too dangerous to be allowed to stay taboo and untalked about. When I moved to Charleston, it was still some years before I started accepting that landscapes are interesting and beautiful as well and since I am in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I better start exploring them.
Thanks for sharing your insights and process with us, Jane Ann! Stop by this Friday night from 6:30 to 8:30 and meet Jane Ann in person.