Jane French paints commissioned portraits in oils and work for individuals, galleries and art fairs. She has a BA in Fine Art from Newcastle University and an MA in Design and Manufacture from De Montfort University and worked as a graphic designer for a number of years. She is now a full-time artist and teaches oil painting workshops.
A DAY IN YOUR LIFE
What does a typical day as an artist look like for you?
I wake at 6.30am and encourage my two teenage children to get up and ready for school. They – and my husband – leave the house at 7.30am. I paint in a spare room at home – so if I’m having a painting day, I am usually set up and working by 9am having done a few jobs around the house and caught up with admin/emails. I listen to Radio 4 a lot and I eat a few too many biscuits. I go running (or to an exercise class) at least 3 or 4 times a week (to help burn off the biscuits!).
If it’s a Workshop day, I need to leave the house at 8.30am to get to the venue. I will then be home by 5pm. Once the children get home from school (4pm), I become cook, taxi driver and chief homework advisor.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I love the feeling of having created something that I’m proud of. Also, when I’m running a Workshop, I love the feeling of helping someone else create something that they are proud of!
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Portrait commissions…and doing the accounts!
What skills are essential to you?
Drawing skills, organisational skills, patience and diplomacy
Is all your work painted for commissions or galleries?
I work on my own ‘projects’ – mainly portrait-based – when I have the time. When I can, I paint landscapes in the open air.
I really like the immediacy of painting landscapes and it's quite a contrast from the discipline of painting a portrait commission. I basically paint the colours and tones that I see in front of me but because I look so intensely at the seas and at the fields, I see more than just blues and greens. I paint these landscapes fairly quickly in order to achieve a light, fresh touch. However, my choice of often muted colours and my loose, sketchy brush marks are often more considered than they may first appear. I work in layers using oils and I nearly always paint an overall base colour in acrylic paint to add warmth and interest to the final piece.
How did you get to where you are now?
By persevering and by believing in myself?
What were your best subjects at school?
Art. I did a first degee in Fine Art, then an MA in Design and Manufacture.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
I have had times of self-doubt in my artistic ability and, even now, occasionally think I should just give it all up and do something else. However, a combination of believing in myself more and achieving goals and receiving recognition from others, has meant that I’m determined to continue doing what I do and to do it as well as I am able to.
A few…but I am definitely a glass half-full person, so I try to make the most of today and plan good things for tomorrow.
What’s the proudest moment of your artistic career so far?
My daughter, Lois (aged 13), is doing an Arts Award at school. She recently had to write (and do a presentation) about her ‘Artistic’ Hero – she chose me! I felt very proud.
What advice would give your 22-year-old-self?
Don’t be so self-conscious, other people are not as interested in you as you think they are. Enjoy life more. Say what you think more. Study harder. Travel lots. Go running!
Coffee or tea?
I drink lots of tea and (usually) one coffee a day. I would find it very hard to give up either!
Michelangelo or Picasso
Michelangelo – because of the Sistine Chapel
Mac or PC?
PC (but I love my iphone)
Morning or night
Morning – for getting on with things…(but not too early!)
I like all sorts of music and so would find it very difficult to pick one Band or one song. Here’s three songs I love …
Joni Mitchell – A case of you
Ben Folds – Gracie
Future Islands – Seasons (I’ve included this because my son plays it all the time and it’s so good)
I read a lot! As with music, it’s very difficult to pick one.
Most of the books I like are about people’s lives…here’s three I liked a lot…
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Colour by Rose Tremain
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Simon Davis, Jenny Saville, Lucien Freud
Things to do on a Friday night
Drink fizzy wine out with friends or have a film night in with family!
We travelled to Japan two years ago and it was an amazing experience – especially riding a bike through a sunny, blossom-filled park in the centre of Tokyo.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given
Always listen; always ask questions.
Jane French is featured on the film How to buy Art.
Find out more:
Visit Jane's website: www.janefrench.co.uk
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