Feature Artist: Janet Fraley

By Taylor Wilson

It was a pleasant experience to visit Janet and she shared her technique on how to make acrylic pours while we were in her studio. She mentioned that her daughter was a baker and we each had one of her delicious strawberry muffins. We looked at many of her paintings, and one in particular that I remember was hard to tell what it was, as it was abstract. I thought it looked like islands on a map. Janet then told me it was actually a religious piece featuring Jesus.

Janet modestly mentioned that she was not trained or educated as an artist. However, she later revealed that she learned most of what she knew about art through her mind, Youtube, God-given talent, and experience. She also mentioned that as a kid she learned art from a course called “American Artists” which was conducted through he mail by several different artists from the 50s and 60s. She would get assignments in the mail, do them, and then send them back. It was like artists school for her. For example, they might ask her to draw a vase and shade it. The course contained lettering animals, people, and a host of projects for her to complete. Janet find animals to be hard, so this course really helped her to draw things like cats, dogs, horses, etc.

During our conversation, Janet focused mainly on acrylic pours but she does nature scenes also. Many of the artists oils, pastels, and watercolors are quite detailed and the process of doing them is stressful for Janet. Acrylic pours give Janet a way to wind down. They relax her and rather than having to worry so much about her work looking realistic, she can just paint.

When I asked her about the inspiration behind her work, she stated that her inspiration is “God’s creation but the abstracts… I just let it happen.” Janet believes that sometimes mistakes turn into the best art and I would have to agree with her. She loves color and sees the process of making acrylic pours as fun. It’s a challenge for her, has texture to it, and isn’t the same twice.

Janet was quite organized and had everything set up for me when I entered her studio. Just by looking at the setup I could tell there were a lot fo components to doing an acrylic pour work. Janet uses Artist’s Loft or Deco Art for acrylic paint, Rembrandt or Utrecht for oils, Rembrandt for pastels, and she has no particular favored brand of paint for watercolors. She doesn’t stick with any one medium. When doing acrylic pours, the artist uses plastic cups, below dryer, blowtorch, straws, kabob skewers, or pretty much anything in her husbands toolbox. I asked her if she has ever used a hammer for her tool and though she said no, she did know of a technique some artists use in which you pop balloons to create interesting effects. There really is no way of avoiding making a mess with this form of art. All you can do is contain the mess. Janet uses plastic sheeting or parchment paper lining an elevated tray to catch the drippings of the painting on which she is working.

When making her acrylic pours, color is at the forefront of her thought process. She doesn’t allow the colors to blend together and become muddy, like when using red and then green. Muddying can be avoided by properly layering the pain colors into the plastic cups. Depending on the subject, Janet chooses her painting medium and mood determines the technique she uses to paint tree and flowers as opposed to acrylic pours. This artist understands that not everyone will see something definite as a subject in her acrylic pours. People see different things based on person experience.

I mentioned Salvador Dali during our interview. Janet said she never thought of him when the paint drips over the edge of the canvas in the way that Dali’s clocks to in his paintings. This didn’t surprise me. I tend to notice things like that and others may not notice the correlation.

With a house, a husband, and five grandchildren, Janet doesn’t have as much time as she would like to spend on her work. Janets ending thought was that she hopes her paintings impart thought and give people joy.

“God’s creation, but the abstracts… I just let it happen.”

Janet Fraley