The creative life
This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
When Jan Jewell graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in fine art and metalsmithing, she had her eye on a creative prize—a career designing one-of-a-kind, high-end jewelry. Determined, talented, and with vision, Jewell did in fact start a successful jewelry business that flourished and thrived. For 15 years she sold her 18- karat gold and gemstone designs to private clients and tony boutiques. This career was eventually followed by another successful entrepreneurial venture—she founded a second company with her husband called Birthday Express, which eventually became one of the largest manufacturers and direct marketers of children’s party supplies. Among other things, Jewell supervised the creative department of more than a dozen artists. She was featured for both her entrepreneurial and artistic talents on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But it was the third creative career that was the charm.
Today Jewell pursues fine art full-time from her lodge-style home and studio on the Olympic Peninsula in the Seattle area. Since 2010 she has painted and taken workshops with artists whom she admires, such as Scott Christensen, Jeremy Lipking, and Kathleen Dunphy. These days Jewell says she is equally comfortable working in all three genres—landscape, still life, and figurative. She is inspired by scenes not far from her front door, such as in PENNY’S ROSES— a work where she pays homage to an elderly neighbor who recently moved away. “I missed her, so I picked some of the roses in her garden and painted them to pay tribute to her,” Jewell says. The painting won a top award at the Portrait Society of America’s recent competition in the still-life category.
In terms of landscape painting, her inspiration can often stem from the rainforests that surround her home—an area filled with enormous trees, lakes, and waterfalls set against the dramatic Olympic Mountains. The current president of Plein Air Washington, Jewell finds painting from life exhilarating, whether it’s a nearby locale or whether she journeys to far-flung destinations for on-location experiences in France, Italy, or Sweden. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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