Jane Lafazio is an awesome person and an inspired and invigorating artist. I stumbled across her blog years ago and have been keeping up ever since. I am happy to call her my friend and am even happiler that I weill see her and play with her next week at the Houston Quilt Fest. We share readers and have shared students in our classes. From them I have heard that Jane is a great teacher and I believe it! We are exchanging interviews this week and I would love if you'd check us both out and comment!
Melly Testa: One of the things that really interests me about you is your use of working small in daily life. Of making small pieces of portable artwork that you may or may not make into a larger piece. Can you tell me where and how this started and what purpose it serve for you as an artist?
Jane LaFazio: I've always been drawn to small things, ever since I was a kid. Working small is immediate gratification--I can be done with one in one evening--if it's lap size! And by working small, creating a number of like pieces, I can create a larger work. I like to assemble and rearrange small pieces into a whole. Don't know why, just do. It's become my most successful style, I think. There's something about not having a plan (I rarely plan my artwork) and starting with only a color scheme or technique, and the challenge of making all the pieces work together into one.
MT: Then I wonder if you might talk about the media you use, I mean, I know you have watercolor training and you journal. But you seem to be a gal of many media and yet, you are quite focused and driven. I wouldn't quite call you an art quilter, or a journaler, or a mixed media artist. I would call you all of it. Perhaps you are a quester. What are your thoughts?
JL: Quester is good! I love trying different things--traveling to different countries. I just love a 'new' experience, so it's the same with my art. I love to learn a new technique or try a new direction. And I have lots of interests, especially when it comes to art making.
I have a degree in Graphic Design, and while in school, dabbled in watercolor, silk screen, ceramics, typography, graphite, figure drawing, and more. I just like the diversity of media, I guess.
In 1992, when I got into fine art, I started with drawing, then watercolor, then collage, then sewing on my watercolor/collages, then about 8 years ago, starting working with cloth. In much of my work, sewing is the common theme. I sew on paper and cloth and seem to always some stitching in my work. Embroidery was the first artist skill I learned, as a teenager, and I guess the process of hand sewing is still one of my faves.
MT:One of the best things I like about you is your attitude, your ability to laugh, to embrace wonder and joy. I think it inspires your readers and students. Can you talk about this? How do you turn lemons into lemonade?
JL: My mother was a very positive person, and as such, instilled confidence in me. I'm blessed to have an inner cheerleader (versus an inner critic). Looking on the bright side is my natural tendency, my core self. I want to make other people feel good too (part people pleaser/ part always finding something positive to say.)
Growing up, with her and my older brother, laughter was a big part of our lives together. Not joke telling, but kidding, teasing and witty sarcasm. And I'm all about laughter. The supreme compliment for me, is being labeled with "a good sense of humor."
MT: What is your current dream and vision for your art?
JL: Staying with the path I'm on. Making lots of art, and writing articles teaching, traveling & teaching and spreading the joy of art making. I'd love to have a steadier, larger monetary income, and have a slightly cleaner house, but otherwise, all is good.
I've said I'd like to write a book on "Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style" and I'm teaching that subject in an online class right now. I have the feeling that I've got more to teach on that front, and that maybe, just maybe it will (magically I hope) turn into a book. (I've put off writing a book proposal for nearly a year now...)
I also love teaching kids, and I'm in the 3rd year of my Mundo Lindo program, and have spoken aloud about a book for teachers or parents with how-to art projects for kids. I'm just starting some online tutorials for those projects, and secretly thinking they might turn into a subscription blog or something like that.
MT: Is there anything you would like to talk about?
JL: A psychic recently told me that my teaching is not as much about teaching art as it is helping people heal. I'm breathing in that prediction, and seeing what will come of it.
MT: What would you like to say to an emerging artist?
JL: Keep making art. Take lots of workshops and classes, but then make it your own work. Trust your instincts. Make art that you love, not what you think will sell; people can instinctively recognize art made from the heart.
And, learn about marketing; you've got let people see your art!
MT: If you don't have it already, go buy her dvd, The Small Art Quilt