Interview with Raleigh Contemporary Artist, Jayne Walther
Jayne Walther talks inspiration, her artist's journey, and what's next in exclusive interview
1. Describe your journey to becoming an artist.
My journey to becoming an artist has not been a direct flight. It has had many stops and layovers along the way. Like most children, I loved making art. I also had a strong interest in design. I would spend hours with my friend redecorating our bedrooms. I even painted my bedroom orange when I was twelve, without permission. At age five I would move things around in my home telling my parents my “eyes hurt” so I need to fix things.
However, coming from modest means, when I told my parents I wanted to become an artist they said that would not be possible. Instead, I studied marketing and computer science. As it turned out creativity was the driving force in my success. I could translate technical concepts and present them to executives in a creative easy to understand way.
In 1993 I relocated from New Jersey to North Carolina. I retired from the corporate world to raise my son. This became the next leg of my artist journey. Having extra time, I wanted to explore eastern philosophy. As luck would have it there was a new Buddhist temple 5 minutes from my home. So I decided to take a meditation class. This one decision made a huge impact on my life.
The same dynamic of translating concepts in an artistic fashion came into play. I was able to take esoteric Buddhist teachings and present them in a basic way that people could understand. So, I was asked to teach to children’s Sunday school, meditation to adults, and guest lecture at local world religion classes.
In 2012, my son graduated high school, and I began the next leg of my journey. Now, I was ready to devote 100% of my time to sharing my art with the world. I crafted a personal art study program, taking drawing classes, and workshops in every medium, including photography.
I had good success at juried shows, which gave me the validation needed to continue my journey. In fact, in 2014, my photographs of pollen illustrating neural pathways landed me a place in an internationally juried show “Science Inspires Art: The Brain” at the New York Hall of Science.
In 2015 I became a resident artist with a private studio at Litmus Gallery and Studios in downtown Raleigh. The trend of growth continued, with my responsibilities blossoming at Litmus to now include planning the yearly exhibits, and being the juror for many our exhibits.
As I have moved though my life, every phase has offered new experiences that have brought me to this stage of sharing my art. I have come to realize that I am a translator and the language I use is art.
2. What is your process for creating art?
I don’t see things the way most of the world views things, and I do see things most of the world doesn’t see. I have always been a bit outside of the box. I am empathic. Therefore, the first step in my process starts with feeling sensitivities. While meditating or observing nature I sense an energy that I want to share.
I don’t start with any preconceived idea of what a painting will be. It’s pure intuition. I am guided by my feelings. I do consider color, line, form, and composition along the way. It’s in the background of my mind. It’s sort of like cooking without a recipe - the more familiar I am with my materials, the more comfortable I am on autopilot.
I also love dancing, and have been taking ballet and ballroom dance classes for the last sixteen years. If you see movement in my paintings, chances are I was dancing while I was painting. I stand when I paint and use three walls in my studio as my easel. I like to create work in a series. At times I can be working on twenty paintings.
When I quiet my mind I am better able to reside in the present moment. This allows me to connect with an abundant source of creativity. Of course, I still face obstacles and sometimes it can take a while to resolve a painting. Some paintings happen fairly quickly, while others can seem like the process of childbirth, and these paintings can take up to a year to complete. I have learned each painting has it’s own lesson to offer.
I really like to draw. I find it to be a meditative experience. Sitting with a piece of paper and a pencil is very relaxing for me. However, I chose to create abstracts because I perceive the world in this way. It’s a big challenge for me to create something out of nothing. I guess it’s also my way of provoking the viewer to look at things differently. The uniqueness, and unpredictability of an abstract attracts me, it makes me feel alive.
Having an interest in interior design, I do attempt to incorporate the latest Pantone colors in my work. It’s a challenge every year, this year it’s Ultra Violet. I happen to like purple; it’s the color of enlightenment. So, I am happy to put this color into our world, as we need lots of purple at the moment.
My studio can be more like a science lab at times. I love to explore new materials. I have attempted to limit myself to a specific medium, but it does not seem possible. I am a photographer and a painter. In fact, I can paint in several mediums. Although, oil and cold wax has been my medium of choice for the last few years. In my mind it’s more important to use the right tool to convey the message.
3. How does your study of mindfulness and Buddhist principles affect your art?
My studies have helped me to settle my mind to discover that soft voice that guides me. This allows me to get out of my head and create from my heart. It has also brought me to a place where I feel a great sense of connection and love. I am able to freely create in a non-judgmental way keeping my inner critic from getting the upper hand.
I use my art to subtly teach and or bring attention to this wisdom. I draw upon mindfulness principles that I want to convey or nature for inspirations. I am currently working on a series called “Thoughts”. It’s interesting because when painting I have noticed that I perceive my thoughts as circular, I wonder how others perceive theirs? I also am very much attracted to the wabi-sabi aesthetic so some of my work could be viewed this way.
My artist statement can be summed up into four words. “We are all one”. I came to this realization after many years of meditating. I am going to contribute as much as I can to push this message of interconnectedness out into the world.
The study of mindfulness has been invaluable to my growth as an artist as it provides insight into self-awareness. There is so much to share about that topic, but I’ll say having awareness of how you perceive things is key.
4. What’s next for Jayne Walther?
It’s a tough balancing act to plan for the future. Having a business background, I am always looking at the five-year plan. Though, through my mindfulness lens, I see the future a bit differently. I allow things to unfold, which takes patience and a bit of trust. If I feel compelled to take a two-day workshop on photography portrait lighting I’ll do it…even if I don’t have a need for it at the moment. I do believe that everything happens at the right time.
In the last few years I have done a few solo exhibits. Typically, my exhibits are rather large productions. I like to schedule community outreach programs, and workshops during my exhibits. This is a tremendous amount of work. I am taking a break this year to regroup and work on a few new bodies of work. The series “Thoughts” will be finished soon. I will then launch into the next series “Lessons from Nature”.
Since I regularly sell pieces of my art from my studio on First Fridays I will continue to invest in growing my art business. I am considering different ways to expose more people to my art. I hope to expand my reach by finding a few galleries that are a good match for my work and creative vision.
Sometimes we can control our plan and other times it unfolds in very unexpected ways. It’s hard to see what is in front of you…you only get so much of a glimpse. Then, you just need to trust that it is just where you need to be.
If you would like to schedule a studio visit, you may reach me by phone/text 919-414-1083 or go to my website www.jaynewalther.com then click on the contact tab, You’ll see a calendar where you are able to schedule an appointment.