I met artist Jane O'Hara (virtually, not in person yet) last summer when we both participated in the Just Dogs show at La Motta Fine Art in Hartford CT. I became a big fan of her work, awed by her fearless compositions and soulful take on animals' sensibilities. After the show, we kept in touch and I have followed her blog, The Animal Lounge, and become even more impressed with her commitment to animal causes. She is a frequent contributor to PETA campaigns and an ardent advocate for the dignity of all animals. So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Jane O'Hara…
1. How did you get started as a dog artist?
I used to do portraits of people, and while I think I have a good ability to get a likeness, I was always stressed about how the subject wanted to be seen, what they think they look like! As of yet animals have not exhibited such concerns! I just love dogs..all animals. They amuse me no end so I love to paint them. I want to say something about that animal...whether its their cuteness, vulnerability, their bigger than life personality....whatever it is about them that strikes me.
2. What is your favorite medium and why?
I like to use acrylics, I actually am a fan of how they dry fast..a typical criticism. I often incorporate different mediums in the paintings too. Venetian plaster, gold leaf, graphite powder. I've used beads, pearls , broken glass and other things in the 'framing' of some pieces which adds to the comment I am making about that dog. Cenotes Pup has broken glass on the edge as this was a dog who basically hung out in a dirt parking lot of the Cenotes dive site in the middle of Mexico - looking for sandwich remnants. I also like to work on different surfaces - heavily grained wood blocks, canvas, metallic sheets.
3. How would you describe your art?
I look at animals as spiritual beings — wise, playful and full of integrity. There is a humorous and ironic quality to my artwork. I'll place animals in unnatural settings as a comment on the human tendency to impose. I paint their unsuspecting response to this and show the dignity, confusion, fear or pleasure that they might experience. I am aware of animals as the vulnerable beings that need us for their care, protection and quality of life. While I love doing animal portraits, I also love to use art as a means to help the cause of animals less fortunate than the animal companion population. A portion of my giclee sales go to PETA, and I also have and will continue to donate paintings to various causes I like.
4. What are your 3 your favorite pieces?
Two Dogs Sleeping, 36" x 48"
Listening, 6" x 12"
Dog Looking Up, 9" x 9"
5. Tell me about your studio; is it how you want it to be? Plans for the reorganizing? Wish list?
My studio is not hugely important to me believe it or not. i have worked on the floor, on my lap, a desk, kitchen table, in the field, north light, electric light, and whatever time of daylight. The studio you see here is great, a space where I can leave everything out, and you can see I do just that - a mess!
After I finish a painting I clean up and reorganize, and through the process of each painting I get messier and more claustrophobic. I usually have several things going at once. My wish list consists of time and money to throw myself into my artwork more and more. I have a studio in Boston, and here in Little Compton RI, so I am blessed with plenty of studio space.
Jane's studio before.
Jane's studio after.
6. Upcoming projects or goals for the future?
I am working on 4 series of animals paintings which I am in the midst of. I want to address the concept of animals being used for entertainment, clothing, factory farms and animal testing. I also am always on the lookout for another portrait commission. I have just finished two and am looking forward to another!
7. Finally, I always like to include artists' pets.
Meet Nellie, who, in this shot, is imitating a bunny in preparation for Easter:
Artists, if you would like to be considered for a Dog Art Today Studio Spotlight email me with a link to your website.
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