Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

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From Nature Walks to City Streets: An Interview with Janna Robins Walters

Janna Robins Walters I can dance if I want to in Blue 2024 60”x 30” mixedMedia in panel

Janna Robins Walters is an artist with a talent for transforming everyday moments into art. In this interview, Janna shares her journey from being a nature-loving child to becoming a busy artist in Toronto. She discusses how her love for colours, nature, and city life influences her work and how exhibitions worldwide have contributed to her growth as an artist. Let us explore her creative process and discover the magic behind her vibrant paintings!

Janna Robins Walters

Janna Robins Wlaters is a multi-disciplinary artist born and based in Toronto. She has worked as an Arts Administrator, an illustrator, a graphic designer, a teacher, a curator, and an art consultant both privately and at the Art Gallery of Ontario Art Rental and Sales. Janna’s continuing education includes earning a BFA from Syracuse University in painting & illustration, a certificate from Rhode Island School of Design, a certification in Computer Graphics and Fine Art from Sheridan, and continuing art courses at OCAD, TSA, and Project Art. In her art, she believes things aren’t always what they seem. She starts each piece without knowing how it’ll end. Inspired by small details, she explores freely, using collages and layers to express different feelings. She focuses on objects that bring calm and happiness, creating cozy scenes. She sees her art as full of kindness and humanity, hoping it helps people escape and discover new things.

1. Janna, your art journey draws from various influences, including nature, people, and everyday objects. Could you share a pivotal moment or experience that ignited your passion for art and led you down this creative path?

I grew up in nature and always made up imaginary scenarios while walking home and I feel lucky that I can take those complete imaginary scenarios and translate it into my art. Nature has been a source of inspiration for my artwork in numerous ways. The sights, sounds, and sensations experienced while walking often evoke a deep emotional response within me.

“Janna Robins Walters” I Didn’t Start the Fire” 30 x30” 2024 mixed media on paper

2. With a diverse background spanning illustration, graphic design, curation, and art consultancy, you bring a multifaceted perspective to your art practice. How do these different roles inform and enrich each other in your creative endeavors?

Juggling multiple roles and perspectives can indeed be disruptive at times. As someone deeply involved in the arts, I strive to view art through various lenses, but I predominantly trust my instincts. Having been immersed in the arts my entire life, my approach is highly intuitive. However, when I step back, I make a concerted effort to evaluate my work objectively.

3. Living in Toronto, Canada, and spending time in Northern Ontario’s natural landscapes must offer a rich tapestry of inspiration. How does your environment influence your creative process, and are there specific elements of Canadian life that often find their way into your work?

Color plays a huge role in my art. I find that the lack of sunlight in the winter influences my palette, as I crave vibrant colors to brighten the long winter months. Nature’s constant cycle of growth, decay, and renewal is a metaphor for the human experience that deeply resonates with me. I love observing all the seasons, each with its mesmerizing colors and juxtapositions. This fascination with nature’s rhythms inspires me to explore my work’s themes of transformation, resilience, and interconnectedness. Whether I’m capturing the beauty of a flower petal or the flight of a bird, nature continually provides inspiration and infuses my artwork with a sense of wonder and reverence for the natural world.

4. You’ve exhibited internationally and have your work housed in collections across Canada and the United States. How have these exhibitions helped you in your art career?

Exhibitions have been instrumental in shaping my art career in several ways. Firstly, they provide a platform for me to connect directly with my audience and engage with “my people,” those who resonate with my work. This direct interaction fosters a sense of community and allows for meaningful exchanges through discussions, feedback, or shared experiences. Exhibitions serve as a vital avenue for showcasing my work to a broader audience, helping to increase visibility and recognition and offer a sense of validation and credibility. Being selected to showcase my work in curated shows or prestigious venues can enhance my reputation as an artist. Overall, exhibitions play a crucial role in advancing my art career, building community, and creating new opportunities within the artistic community.

My typical day in the studio begins after I’ve taken care of my bookkeeping, housekeeping, and any caregiving duties by midday. As I step into my studio, I feel myself transitioning into a peaceful state. I like to start by making a cup of tea or coffee, filling my water bottle, and having a small meal or snack at my clean desk because I know I won’t find the time or space once I begin work! Once settled, I calm my mind and decide on my inspiration for the day, whether it’s a playlist, podcast, book, or just the quiet of the studio. After a brief break, I dive into my work. I usually start cleaning up when I feel like my time is up. It’s interesting how the act of cleaning up can sometimes lead to more work, extending my studio time by another 1.5 to 2 hours. This blend of preparation, focus, and spontaneity creates a rhythm to my studio days, allowing me to immerse myself fully in the creative process and explore new ideas freely.

Janna Robins Walters’s interview gave us a peek into how she sees the world and turns it into beautiful art. We’ve learned about her love for nature, bustling studio days, and how exhibitions have shaped her career. From simple walks in the park to the hustle and bustle of city life, Janna’s paintings reflect the joys and wonders of everyday life. To learn more about Janna, click the links below to visit her profile.

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