To kick off 2017, we’re interviewing Jane Thorne, a full-time artist & illustrator living in the charming town of Waiuku. Jane finds much of her happiness whilst painting and drawing most things, but has a special fondness for bugs and beetles. Her paintings have been exhibited both locally and internationally and she has also illustrated nine books with more to come.
With a bachelor degree in Visual Arts and experience working with children she enjoys sharing her skills with others by way of tutoring and getting involved within the arts community.
What do you love about being an artist?
I love that I have chosen this path for myself. I didn’t succumb to society telling me to ‘choose a proper career path’. Admittedly it’s not easy financially at times but I’ve worked hard in the past with ‘real’ jobs to get a bit of financial stability behind me so I can now relax and really enjoy making art.
What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?
Creativity is such a broad term. You can creatively manage your accounts (I can’t) for example or even creatively organize your sock drawer (trust me I have a very colourful and organized sock collection)… To me, creativity is a part of everything I do. I look at the world from a visual perspective and every day I try to focus that into my work – whether it’s creating an illustration for a book or arranging insect images on a canvas for a painting. Being creative means for me asking questions. ‘How can I make this look better?’ for example.
What’s your favourite piece from your body of work?
Usually the last piece I’ve done is my favourite so it changes all the time. My mind often wanders back fondly to a painting I did around 2013 of different types of ladybirds. Back in my art school days I created a small painting of a broken egg shell. They have both sold and a little part of me misses them. I recently discovered a love of painting on wallpaper and this series of three completed so far I’m very happy with.
They are fresh and new and exciting to me. I think that’s what makes a painting a favourite in my mind and why they eventually change.
Who are some other NZ artists whom you admire?
There are so many artists I admire and am influenced by. I work alongside nine incredibly talented artists at Dornwell Studios. I admire any artists who keep working and persevere with it. It’s sometimes very difficult to sell work and stay motivated but having people close by who understand and are supportive helps more than anything else.
What themes crop up in your work again and again?
Nature. But not the obvious things like flowers and cute furry animals; I like to paint the more obscure. I find great beauty in things others may overlook. My partner and I are currently renovating a very old house. I’m intrigued by all the layers of paint unfurling and have a feeling these may be appearing more in future paintings.. dripping paint, dirty scuff marks, peeling wall paper. I love this stuff!
What draws you to your preferred subject of insects?
I never tire of painting insects. I don’t really understand this myself. I don’t exactly adore them in real life. I do, however, think they are absolutely beautiful to look at and paint (at a safe distance preferably in form of a photo!). There is a seemingly endless supply of these incredible six-legged critters.
The entomology department at Auckland Museum are very kind in letting me come and take hundreds of photos and even educate me in what I have been painting! To me insects are not just insects, but a part of the story I’m telling in my art work. They become these sentient beings with lives of their own.
What project are you looking forward to doing next?
I’m currently working on a painting which has been underway for almost a year now! It’s covered in hundreds of bugs and was intended as almost a warm up to an even bigger painting…Not sure how that one will go after this attempt! I have also started a few other works. I tend to live in the moment with my paintings although there are always many ideas for new paintings floating around in my mind waiting to escape and land on a canvas!
You are also an illustrator. Your children’s book, Flies in his Eyes, has recently been released. What did you love about illustrating this book?
Flies in His Eyes was a big adventure in more ways than one. I was essentially given a story to do with what I pleased. I could not ask for more freedom than that and that is what I enjoyed the most.
The freedom to experiment with different styles and new ideas to play with. I loved adding in mixed media and enjoyed the challenge of learning how to create my own font. There is something a little bit magical about seeing your own lettertype pop up in a Microsoft doc! I love the Roald Dahl-ish dark side the story has – and of course I loved illustrating the flies!
Are there any more books in your future?
Absolutely! I still feel as if I’m in a learning process with each new book and trying to master my own individual style. My ideal future as an illustrator would be where writers let me have the freedom to draw in my own style knowing exactly what that style looks like. I’m currently working on a book called Sarah’s Secret Shelter. It’s a very cute story in the form of an early chapter book about a spider trying to protect her eggs.