“As an Art teacher, it’s difficult to get students to draw what they see. Many times, if they’re asked to draw a picture of a flower, they want it have perfect petals. But, nothing is perfect in an organic world. Sometimes the flower petals vary in size and shape, and may have holes or tears. When I ask students to put their pencil point on a piece of paper and draw the contour of a flower without looking down, they’re skeptical and yet amazed at the outcome.” The experience IS the lesson”, says Jan Talley Stewart, an Art teacher for many years and now practicing artist.
The first drawing Jan remembers making was a horse. “My grandfather had horses, so I would try to remember how the horse’s jaw felt in my hand. I would draw the rounded line to make the shape of the jaw, like I remembered. The result wasn’t great, but you could tell it was a horse.”
Jan has always had a passion for art and says, “Crayons were exciting to me. In coloring books, I would color the grandmotherly character’s hair blue. Once, a kid asked me why I did that, and I replied, ‘My grandmother has blue hair’. That kid didn’t understand my aesthetic.”
Jan Ell Talley was born in Gainesville, Texas, but grew up in Sherman. She took art classes in public school, as well as private lessons for a time. She graduated from Austin College with a double major in Communication Arts and English, and a minor in Art. Of the minor in Art she states: “I was a Theatre nerd in college. That demanded a lot of time!”
She eventually found her calling as a teacher, teaching English for two years until finding out English wasn’t “her thing”. Landing a job teaching Theatre, her other passion, she counts herself lucky to have taught Theatre, Speech and Art for 25 years. After retiring, and encouraged by her children and family, Jan began her career as an artist.
She recently began showing her artwork in public, and is associated with Gallery Off the Square in Sherman, Texas. She has shown artwork in shows in Sherman and Gainesville, and provided a drawing in October for an auction that raised funds for the Ampersand Women’s Crisis Center in Lexington, Kentucky. She has commissioned pieces in collections in the North Texas area, as well as works hanging in private collections in Texas, California, Florida, and Kentucky.
Everyone sees things differently. What I put into a piece of art is another discovery of what I believe.
Through paintings, multi-media works, Prisma colors, graphite pencils, and ink I can evoke a spirit, a mood, and the movement of the event taking place in a piece. Art has the power to move people, to trigger a memory, or transport them to another place. It may even help someone discover what they believe!
As a native Texan, I tend to navigate towards western themes in some of my paintings. I love cowboy boots, bluebonnets, cattle, horses, and of course dogs and cats. As an artist I enjoy to exploring new ideas, concepts, and techniques to make new discoveries.
My son said to me recently, “Isn’t that why you art?” Yes, I guess it is!
– Jan Talley Stewart
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