This week, we were delighted to go inside the studio of talented London-based artist Jane Kell.
Jane specialises in original paintings of still life and landscapes, and also experiments with abstract as she challenges herself to discover new techniques that explore the various elements of her work.
Jane has recently refurbished her studio which now offers her the right space to continue producing her stunning paintings in the comfort of her home.
Before you view Jane’s collection of original paintings, discover more about Jane and her work and where she seeks her inspiration.
Could you tell us a little more about Jane Kell?
I came to painting quite late, after a career in public relations and publishing, although it was always there in the back of my mind and something that I felt I would do eventually. My parents are both painters (they met at art school) and I was always slipping into their studio to have a peek. There was an enormous paint spattered easel there along with their unfinished paintings, and I loved to soak up the atmosphere and breathe in the smell of paints and linseed oil.
When I left school I chose to study Art History at university instead of going to art school because I didn’t feel I was ready to commit to art. Studying art history was a great education – three years of looking and learning about paintings and it paved the way for me into a career in publishing and PR. Working in the arts meant that I was always around artists, photographers and in many ways it was my last job where I was Head of Press at the National Gallery, which gave me the final push to finally try my hand at oils. The job meant that I had a lot of contact with the restoration department. It was located in a large glassed-roofed studio at the top of the building where Old Master paintings were arranged around the space on easels lit with natural light. The walls were lined with shelves of old bottles containing every kind of pigment imaginable since the Renaissance. It was very inspiring to see these paintings up close, not shielded by glass or in a gallery setting and I feel it was the experience which made me want to try painting with oils, a medium I had never used before.
When did you start painting?
2010 was the year I started. I spent £100 on oil paints and made a make shift studio out of the garden shed. Once I started painting I was hooked. In the beginning my aim was just to paint something that I liked and would be happy to put on the wall. Oils can be very slow to dry so I used to put my pictures in the kitchen to dry and as a result friends often noticed them and early on wanted to buy them. That was really encouraging and gave me confidence – it’s always a thrill to know that people like your work enough to want to hang it on their walls at home. I still get a thrill from that.
Do you remember the first ever painting you created?
Yes. The first painting I ever did with oils was a very simple, naive picture of a Japanese anemone in a small glass vase on a glossy black background. I have it on the wall in the living room, and people keep trying to buy it, but I will never part with it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Colour and light are my inspiration – and I am struck by everyday things, whether it’s a piece of fruit on the kitchen table caught in a shaft of light, or walking the dog back from the park at dusk when the light is just changing.
Tell us about where you live. What are your favourite things about your local area that help inspire your work?
I live in South West London in Teddington, near the Thames and Bushy Park. The park is a huge inspiration as I walk my dog there every morning so I feel very connected to the seasons and how the landscape changes with the time of year and time of day. The fresh air and walk also clear my head and I like to come in after the dog walk and go straight into the studio and start work.
Could you tell us something people might not know about you?
I am an identical twin. We are very close and of course very similar, the main difference being that she is a musician and not a painter.
Tell us more about your studio space.
I moved out of the garden shed a few years ago. Now I have a studio on the first floor of the house, with a North facing window. It has a wooden floor and a large built in desk which I use to lay out my paints. I have an easel positioned next to the window and I work standing up. Recently I extended the studio to give me more room to work on bigger canvases and it is working out really well. There is an armchair in the studio which I thought would be perfect for me when I wanted to have a rest and assess my work – but in reality it is permanently occupied by my dog Penny who is always with me in the studio.
Your subjects vary from landscape and still-life to abstract. How do you choose your subject for a new painting?
It’s quite a random thing, I always paint exactly what I feel like painting. To get into the studio and start painting I need to feel an urgency and an attraction to an image/idea. Often an idea will have been brewing for a while and I will be very impatient about making a start. I like the freedom that painting different subjects gives me, if I have been doing a small, detailed still-life painting for a while it is very appealing to change pace and tackle a large scale, ambitious abstract. Also, I am very influenced by the art I see around me, it was seeing the Richard Diebenkorn show at the Royal Academy that made me want to move into abstraction.
You work in oils. Have you ever used other media and why do you prefer oil?
I always use oils because I love the texture and the range of colours I can achieve with them. I can use them very thin like a wash, and then use a brush to build up the picture with lots of layers of paint or I can smear thick layers on with a palette knife – and best of all, I can change anything on the canvas at any stage.
Do you have a favourite painting that you created?
My favourite painting is usually my most recent work – but I think to date the paintings I like best include City Lights, After The Rain, and The Pool.
“City Lights” has stunning detail and light, and you describe it as having a loose impressionistic style. Do you regularly experiment with new techniques, and if so, what has been your favourite so far?
Thank you. I think it is one of my best paintings and I am pleased with the way it worked out. I don’t consciously try new techniques but I am always trying to improve and paint better and push the boundaries of what I can do. The more I paint, the more confident I am with my materials so I am able to work in a freer more confident way. Although, there is a sense of ‘detail’ in the painting, really it is an illusion created with colour. There is very little detail but there are flashes of colour which create the impression of traffic, windows, movement.
Which artists are you inspired by?
I am inspired by many artists – in the beginning I was very influenced by William Nicholson, John Singer-Sargeant and Mary Fedden. More recently I am drawn to the work of Joan Eardley and JMW Turner and Richard Diebenkorn.
“Abstract XI” is such a vibrant painting. Could you tell us what the painting means to you?
This painting started out as a figurative painting which wasn’t working. I let it dry and came back to work on it a week or so later – there were things about the painting that I liked and wanted to preserve so I worked on top of what was there. My intention was to create an abstract picture where the colour was very powerful and vibrant, so intense that the viewer’s gaze is held and it is a struggle to look away. I wanted the painting to have an exuberance and luminous quality.
Do you only sell your art online, or are represented by a brick and mortar gallery or exhibit in fairs/exhibitions?
Currently I sell primarily online and I like that I can reach an international market of art buyers in this way. I also love the fact that I communicate directly with the buyer and therefore know where my paintings end up. It’s a lovely feeling knowing that I have paintings all over the UK and in Singapore, Miami, Florida and Melbourne.
I also do an annual Open House in the Summer where the house and studio is open for the weekend as part of a borough wide Open House festival which I also really enjoy. Currently I am not represented by a bricks and mortar gallery but I wouldn’t rule it out for the future.
What does 2017 have in store for Jane Kell?
Well I am very excited to have the new and improved studio – so I anticipate a very productive, busy year painting ahead. I am also thinking of participating in a couple of art fairs this year which will be a first for me.
We hope you enjoyed this exclusive interview with artist Jane Kell as much as we did, and make sure you discover Jane’s beautiful collection of artwork here.