Enjoy artist Janet Kruskamp’s charming portfolio of Americana and scenes of yesteryear. Visit her website to see more from this talented painter.
Art has always been a passion for me, a passion that I have been nurturing for over seven decades! After so many years honing my skills, I can honestly say I am still learning about my craft–and myself–every day.
While some discover their passions in their teens and twenties, I never found it: it found me. At two years old, I was drawing Disney characters and the Planter’s Peanut Man on my parent’s walls. I always knew I was (and would remain) an artist. A scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute refined my skills and focused my philosophy of finding a story in the subjects I paint—a practice I maintain to this day. My favorite subjects are those that tell a story, and the beauty of commonplace subjects inspires me. As Plato said, “It is beauty I seek, not beautiful things.”
After so many years in front of the canvas, I am often asked to advise young painters. My advice is simple: First learn the basics and then, Just Paint! The more you paint, the better you get. The odds are in your favor that if you paint a lot of canvases, you’ll find some gems amongst the pigment.
While I love all subject matter—I truly look for beauty in even the simplest, everyday items, I find that painting a still life – any still life – offers the greatest lessons for the observant student. A still life may be the “chamber music” of painting,” and it may seem too dull for a casual painter; however, I truly believe that everything you need to learn about colors, values and composition is all there for you to see and learn.
If you can truly see a vase—the subtle play of colors across a glossy surface, the reflected light within a shadow, the perfect placement of the strongest light source, you will train your artist’s eye to see the shifts in light, shadow, and tone in a bowl of fruit, a field of flowers, even the human face. I tell my students, “If you can see a vase, you can paint a face!”
Another popular question is, “How do I choose my subjects?” Well, sometimes I am inspired by a season, as with many of my Christmas paintings. My childhood memories have inspired many of my kitchen paintings, where friends and family will often see real items from my mother’s and grandmother’s homes like a mixing bowl, and handmade quilted pot holders.
Sometimes, my travels provide the inspiration. This was the case with my series of paintings featuring aspects of vanishing Americana. A chain-link fence along a road on the edge of the desert in Arizona was the dumping point for cast-off shoes and became the focus of my painting Walking Rt. 66, while an old gas station ready for the wrecking ball but still bearing the sign FOR SALE—a poignant story of how hope springs eternal–was immortalized in a recent work titled Excellent Business Prospects.
On a trip to New Mexico, I captured some of the adobe dwellings that are starting to disappear in the face of natural elements and progress in Adobe Near Taos where a brilliant blue sky contrasts dramatically with the sun baked adobe. These three paintings are part of my new collection titled: VANISHING AMERICA.
This new series also includes a nod to the romance of rail travel titled The Scenic Limited. Using new age technology (the internet), old memories, and some whimsical “artistic license” I researched vintage luggage and train stations and then imagined how the Red Cap stacked all the luggage askew and even left his cap on the cart!
In some respects, this latest collection is a continuation of my ARTIST IN SEARCH OF AMERICA collection, in which I traveled several thousand miles throughout our beautiful country in the early 70’s, seeking a true picture of the people and places of America. In 1976, this collection of Americana was designated by the city of San Jose, California as an official Bicentennial event.
In the early nineties, I signed with Bentley House Fine Art Publishers (now Bentley Global Arts & Bentley Licensing). Through the years, they have challenged my abilities and imagination endlessly… from fine art teddy bear still lifes to gardens to florals to motorcycles to all sorts of poster-style paintings; I’ve done them all! And my work is now published and licensed worldwide!
I never imagined that I would have the career path I have had or that I could support myself with my art. See what happens when you dream big!