Artist Spotlight: Jane Spaulding

Author: Alison Barnes

Jane Spaulding was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. During our phone interview she reported with delight that she will be turning 80 in the year 2021. Art Piece Soul is proud to feature her artwork, as she is a steadfast example of an artist who is committed to her lifelong pursuits of learning and visual expression. The journey of her career as both an artist and an art educator is full of her passion and desire to use visual language, and tell a story.

Education & Career

She attended Methodist College in Iowa, where she majored in Art and Education with minors in English and French. She married in college to an artist. From there she began to teach Art from grades k through 12. She also taught English and French, still in combination with Art. She recalls her most fond role as an Elementary Art teacher while she worked in Florida.

She moved around throughout her career. When I asked her what she enjoyed about teaching Elementary Art and what stood out for her she said “I learned a lot from my supervisor. Teachers learn so much more once they start teaching after college.” Her supervisor “really impressed upon us the visual language.” She also shared that she learned a great deal from her peers and the great community of teachers around her during this time. This community was made up of staff from 100 elementary schools, 33 of the individuals being traveling art teachers. She recalled that “they got together every Friday to share their best teaching results.”

In 1969 she began her master’s degree in Art Education. Currently, she is so glad to be a full time artist again. Looking back over the span of the last 50 years she recalled all of the teaching, learning, marriages, and life that took place. She is proud to say that she was able to keep art alive for herself over the years, throughout her career.

Art Journey

I wanted to learn more about Jane’s passion for art and where that began for her. She shared with me that her passion for art began with her realization at a young age that “I can draw.” When she was in 6th grade she won a prize for a narrative drawing. She remembers that specifically this drawing told the story of how to prevent fire at home. Whenever she learned about the different fire hazards in the household she would illustrate it. This process came naturally to her. She took great delight in recognizing that through the act of drawing she was getting a message across. By doing this she was showing the truth, and telling a story with her art. From this young age she was captivated by how her drawings were a form of education. It was empowering for her to comprehend that “I can show other people things by how I draw it. I can tell a story.”

Jane recalled another defining moment in 1957, with the launch of Sputnik. The “first real adventure into space” had placed a lot of emphasis on the disciplines of science and math. Yet, Jane had found her calling, and she knew that she would rather do art than science and math. Growing up she participated in a variety of creative endeavors. She cultivated a love for all art forms, including orchestra, dance, theater, reading, and writing. The creative disciplines was where she felt that she was blooming. They were what she needed to be able to express herself.

We also spoke at length about art and the types of art that Jane has been interested in throughout her career. We spoke about the delight of the experience of abstract art and the focus that to Jane is “purely visual.” Our discussion led into appreciation for art that presents something you can recognize, blending formal visual elements of color, shape, and form.

In addition, Jane spoke about narrative art as the type of expression that “gravitate[s] towards getting a message across that others can understand. [It is] not photographic realism. [It doesn’t] try to be perfect or realistic.” She is fascinated that a good sketch that might take her 30 seconds would be able to a message across. For her, this quality inherent in art around its communicative properties is significant, especially how it allows for connection with the people around us. Jane shared that a special part of her art making is when the images just flow. She said that her art is more clear when others are around, it comes easier for her. The process becomes more tedious when she finds herself alone.

Jane enjoys blending abstract and visual elements. During the time that she studied art she employed various techniques to replicate the work of other artists. This was especially true in regards to her pursuit of purely representational art. However, she favors that art that she can create with a narrative, spiritual, and metaphysical approach.

She recalled the year 1969 as being a formative year for her in developing this method. Engaged to her second husband during this time, she was also in the beginning phases of her Master’s program. Her interest in creating spiritual and metaphysical art began to grow. Her first opportunity to do this while she was working and had stayed up all night and do a pre-cognitive painting. She didn’t know it at the time but this process would hold great importance for her artistic and spiritual journey. Through this undertaking she was able to gain a greater understanding of her gifts and what the future held for her. “It is great if we can do that. Sometimes it happens and we can understand it.” As an artist Jane respects the balance of working in the flow, or the zone, and just being okay with the process and the end product. Mediation through her art practice has allowed her to find meaningful connection between mind, body, and soul. “It takes real passion to be an artist.”

Then, in 1981 she started her own art business when her son was just 10 years old. She named this business Son Blossom Art. The name for this business comes from a meaning that is symbolic to Jane. It all started with an image on a sunflower that would bloom. She explained how sunflowers give us both food and more sunflowers. “The seeds that come to the ground produce more flowers, the same as giving goodness to all people. The second part to this symbolism is her personal and spiritual identification as a child of God. Her spiritual background is Judeo Christian, yet she is sympathetic to all cultures and religions.

Jane enjoys positive thoughts, positive conversation, positive art. “Anything negative is part of that and I accept that, but it is not the final image I want to put out there. I want to show healing.” She explained that to get to a place of positivity and healing one must sometimes engage in catharsis. “In the same way that the ancient greeks, playwrights and philosophers did plays with tragedy, catharsis is a way to get the garbage out so we can have healing, be purified, and change our bodies. When we do this purification it affects your body, your blood, your heart and you can have joy and true peace.”

Becoming Part of Art Piece Soul

Art Piece Soul has been a true blessing for Jane and has allowed her to be an artist again. Until May of 2018 she had continued to substitute teach. Since that time she has been working as an artist. Her current focus is on building her brand and her portfolio of work.

Her first connection to Art Piece Soul Gallery occurred two years ago. Jane attended the St. Paul art crawl and when she got off the elevator the first artist she saw was Felicia, future creator and owner of the gallery. Jane was drawn to Felicia’s work and purchased a piece of hers. The two artists formed a relationship over the next 21 months and saw the opening of the gallery together July, 2019. They have also both participated in the Selby jazz festival last year. And communicate regularly through phone and email. Jane enthusiastically supports Felicia in all of her artistic pursuits.

Art Process & Materials

Jane’s current media of choice is watercolor painting. She also enjoys acrylic painting, mixed media, and collage. She is looking forward to perhaps working with sculpture next year and hopes to use clay and paper mache. She has extensive experience in paper mache, as she created life size figures during her Masters training 50 years ago. She also taught her students how to create masks over the years. Although the breadth of her interests are wide she is aware that she wants to stay true to her calling and improve upon her paintings.

It is clear that as an artist Jane has a true appreciation for embracing narrative through visual language. She also has as strong connection and affinity for the patterns and connections of all humanity and the connective consciousness throughout history and time.

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