Water and light are spiritual elements, widely used and deeply symbolic. Water is not only cleansing and healing, it is powerful enough to erode stone over time. Light is brightening and warming, like the sun on your shoulders, but also intelligence and creativity (the aha! light bulb), and powerful enough to dispel darkness.
Water and light together with transparent pigments create an effect inimitable in any other medium. Light shines through layers of transparent color, hits the white of the paper, and bounces back to the viewer. Only watercolors give back light. At the Park City show in November of 2006, it was so gratifying to hear one collector exclaim, “I just want to take all this light home with me!”
In each piece you’ll see some combination of light, fluidity, motion, color and joy.
My primary goal as an artist is to capture and share my visceral response to natural beauty—particularly light, motion, and rhythm. I am always interested in expressing the interplay of opposition: cool vs warm; abstract vs concrete; dark vs light; lost vs found.
Beyond my formal education, I have taken inspiration from three painters who succeed at expressing strong, raw emotion in their paintings: Andrew Wyeth’s lesser-known watercolor landscapes are a talisman of passion. JMW Turner’s prescient hint at abstract expressionism takes my breath away. (I literally stood and wept at the intensity of a blue he used in a watercolor of the Seine.) Berthe Morisot’s impressionistic and light-drenched views of women and children evoke something evanescent and spiritual and speak to me on a very deep level.
I start with the immediacy of a pencil. As a student I spent most of my time devoted to a kind of trompe l’oeil photorealism. After a while I found there was no passion and very little challenge in a tight rendering like that for me. I still remember the day, the very moment, when I discovered how much energy and expression I could pull from a pencil. It was exhilarating. (A colleague recommended that I drop everything and move to New York when she first laid eyes on those drawings.)
It was even more challenging when I progressed toward achieving a similar expression with a paintbrush. Much like the pencil, my initial approach to painting was careful, tight, cautious. But as I gained confidence and control, my inner brush broke free. Suddenly the strokes I was making were bold, exuberant, passionate. Yet with all that early practice at super-realism, I found I could retain the essence of what I was painting, an allusion to what inspired me, while immersing myself in a dance of color and light.
The energy and elation you see in these pieces is a very real reflection of what I am experiencing when I'm immersed in creation. I use a combination of drawing, pouring, spattering, and direct painting to achieve strong emotion. I realized my work was communicating the way I hoped when a collector at my first show exclaimed, “I want to take all this wonderful light home with me!” I hope it speaks to you, too.
Jana Winters Parkin grew up playing in her father’s studio. When she expressed an interest, he patiently guided her through her first few paintings. Holding the brush together, they dipped it in water and paint, then watched in awe as it dispersed a beautiful blend of color across a pristine sheet of textured paper. This early childhood experience taught her a love of watercolor that has lasted throughout her life.
Growing up, Jana often accompanied her father as he taught both painting and creativity workshops nationwide, from California and Hawaii to Florida. This early exposure to people and places, visual expression and creative thinking, has been invaluable.
In college, she spent summers away, studying first at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, then Cambridge University in England, and painting en plein air (french term for outdoors, on location) in Monterey, California. She earned a BFA in Art from the University of Utah in 1987.
She and her husband, Jeff, moved to Los Angeles in 1988. Within a few years she launched her own graphic design studio. A turning point for her came when Breez, a Santa Cruz fragrance company, commissioned a series of more than 30 original watercolors to showcase its fragrance lines.
Soon thereafter she realized that she was enjoying the painting opportunities that came with her design projects more than she enjoyed the design work itself. She began to devote most of her creative time and energy to painting. Her watercolors have since become both a source and an expression of pure joy.
Jana and her family returned to Utah in 2004. Here she is enraptured by the mountain vistas and enjoys devoting her time to her watercolors.
Jana’s work combines the warmth and energy of Southern California with the deep contrasts of the Utah landscape—wildness and serenity, open spaces and tightly packed forests, red-rock deserts and cool mountain lakes. Her work contains vibrant color, contemplative washes, and exuberant brushstrokes as well as gestural figures. Her inspiration is found both in her travels and in the beauty, light and color of the everyday. Each painting is a celebration of life, energy and creation.
Jana loves imparting her passion for the medium of watercolor with her students. She has taught watermedia courses at Utah Valley University for over 11 years. She teaches private lessons and classes in her Provo home/studio, and in Salt Lake City. She also loves to travel and teach in larger workshop settings. Jana will be teaching a plein air watercolor workshop in the Dordogne region of France in June of 2020. (See Events page for more info.)
She exhibits her work frequently and her luminous watercolors have won numerous awards. She has served on the board of the Utah Watercolor Society and is a member of the National Watercolor Society. Her work has been collected from coast to coast.