Local artist Janice Newman uses art as an outlet for expression and discovery.
“Art is where I can express some of my deepest feelings,” said Newman. “Also it's where I play so I don't lose the child in me either. I get to play with all these materials. I might have a vision of where I'm going with a certain piece, but then the materials might lead me somewhere else. There's always that element of surprise. My goal is to just show how life is amazing. These are all these different slices of life that I tried to capture.”
All Angels By The Sea Episcopal Church will display her newest art collection in the All Angels Gallery. The collection opened Dec 3.
Originally from Rhode Island, Newman first explored art her senior year of high school when she chose it as one of her electives.
“We had a very eccentric art teacher,” said Newman. “She put my work in the Scholastic Art Awards, which was the state competition. And actually I won a gold key there. But right before that happened, she pulled me aside and she wagged her finger at me. At first, I thought she was agitated. She said, ‘You're very special.’ And I have to tell you that, that stuck with me. I knew that I had certain academic gifts, but she just touched something and I really did feel special.”
This moment inspired Newman to become an art teacher. She wanted to build other young artists the way that her teacher did and help them grow into their greatest potential.
Newman went to Rhode Island College for her undergraduate degree in Art Education and Lesley College for her master's degree in Arts Integration. Newman taught for 40 years in both public and private schools, including at Rhode Island School of Design.
Newman moved to Sarasota in 2016 and decided that she wanted to dedicate more time to her own art after years of helping others. She was invited to join the local organization, Women Contemporary Artists. She is also a member of the National League of American Pen Women and the Petticoat Painters, one of the oldest continually exhibiting groups of women artists in the U.S.
Newman served as president of Women Contemporary Artists for two years. Now, she is the exhibitions co-chair and on the scholarship committee. She is also the secretary on the board of directors for the Petticoat Painters.
During her time as president of Women Contemporary Artists, Newman was able to double membership and make more community themed events.
In these groups, Newman takes her skills as an art educator to help build up a supportive community of women artists in Sarasota. She said that she wants it to be more than just supporting each other as artists but supporting each other as people and friends.
Because of her background in art integration, Newman tries to branch out into many different art forms. She said that she is mostly known for oil pieces and has won multiple awards for these. Newman focuses on capturing light and color in her work.
For the months of December and January, Newman’s latest collection “Finding Balance” will be displayed in All Angels Gallery.
Newman said she can’t wait for her friends and family to come see it because it might take everyone by surprise that it is not her usual oil paintings. She themed “Finding Balance” after her love for rocks and used mostly watercolors and a new medium called alcohol ink. Newman said she challenged herself to see mundane things like rocks and elevate them to be extraordinary.
“This is a very careful detailed study of rocks and cairns,” said Newman. “Working on this rock series has been a direct pursuit of mindfulness and meditation for me. I find it calming and healing to the spirit. My rocks represent the simultaneity of the past, present and future. They are deeply symbolic, celebrating both permanence and transience.”
All Angels Gallery is available to browse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and at 11:30 a.m. Sundays.
Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.