Artist Friends

I know the title of this post doesn’t begin with “J,” which is the letter of the day for April A to Z Blogging, but that’s because I couldn’t find any synonyms for “artist” that begin with J, and I am featuring several artist friends whose names begin with J who have inspired me and encouraged me.

While I am a fairly extreme introvert, I value relationships deeply and very much appreciate my friends. As I was thinking about artists who have helped me grow, I was surprised at how many of their names begin with J, hence the idea for this post. Of course, there are other artists who have had an impact on me, and I appreciate them just as much, but today is for J.

Jennifer is the one I have known the longest, for… well perhaps I won’t say for how long, but I’ve known her since she was a few days old. She’s my younger sister, but I’ve always looked up to her as an artist, and I have learned a great deal from her. Jennifer and I often text or email our paintings to each other for feedback, critique, and suggestions, and I always know I can count on her for honest feedback. Once when I emailed her a painting, her feedback was straightforward and to the point– “Paper shredder,” so I am confident when she gives me positive feedback that she really means it. Jennifer often paints much larger than I do and in oils, but we also share a love for watercolor and for sketching; we have identical “Sisters’ Sketchbooks” that we use when we are together, and I treasure those times. If you’d like to see Jennifer’s work, her website is Jennifer Thompson Art.

I first connected with my friend Jamie when a mutual friend in Florida commented on a painting Jamie had posted on Facebook. I saw the painting and immediately recognized it as a spot I knew locally! It turned out Jamie doesn’t live too far from me, and since then we’ve painted together often. Jamie has been incredibly inspiring to me and has, by her example, encouraged me to try new approaches and mediums that I might not have otherwise considered. In addition to her beautiful painting and calligraphy, Jamie excels at testing new materials and she keeps careful and beautifully presented notes about them in her sketchbooks, which I often refer to on her blog, Hudson Valley Sketches.

I met Jana during my first artist residency at Acadia National Park, and we hit it off right away. She had been Artist-in-Residence there several times and knew all sorts of fabulous tips about little-known places to paint. We worked together a year and a half later to lead the Acadia Artists’ Retreat, and also rented a cabin together for several days of hiking and painting on the quiet side of Mount Desert Island. Unlike the small watercolor sketches I usually do when painting on location, Jana’s plein air landscapes tend to be fairly large acrylic paintings; even though the medium and format are different, I always learn from studying her work. I could happily lose myself in Jana’s paintings of rocks, water, and various landforms for hours. You can enjoy them, as well as her delightful animal paintings, on her blog, Jana Matusz on Site.

Janice paints with words, rather than a brush. It was she who inspired me to do this A to Z blogging, which I have been greatly enjoying. Janice blogs about healthy living, food, and books, as well as some fiction and motivational writing, and we share all those interests (well, so far I haven’t written any fiction, but I do enjoy reading it). I’ve enjoyed reading her posts during this challenge, and I hope more friends will join in for the remainder of this month or next year. Last year Janice posted 26 reviews of memoirs during April A to Z blogging. You also can be motivated by her blog, Janice Dimmock.

So I was about to wrap up this piece, when Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 15:15 came to mind: “I have called you friends.” And he is the Master Artist, and of course his name begins with J! How could I not have thought of him when planning this post?! As I mulled that over, I realized I think of Jesus as God, Lord, Savior, Comforter, Teacher, but not often as friend. I’m not sure why that is, as his word, the Bible, is replete with images and teaching about friendship, but I will be pondering that. Jesus inspires me every day with the beauty of his artwork. You can see Jesus’ work by looking out your window.

A to Z April Blogging J

2 Replies to “Artist Friends”

  1. Thank you. This is a wonderful blog post. Such a rare occurrence for one of your painting to be bad that I remember that as well. I also value your input and critique of my paintings. Our painting times together are some of my best memories. P

  2. Melissa, I am so honored by your words, and grateful for every opportunity we have to paint and spend time together. Thank you. You’re an inspiration in so many ways!

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