Artist Member Spotlight: Jane Penfield
Jane Penfield is an active artist and teacher at Arts Center East. For six years, she has been an instrumental part of the board of directors, and a great supporter of the Art Center’s mission. Recently she has become an ACE Signature Artist Member. Jane teaches the popular Pastel Painting class and has had her artwork featured in numerous ACE exhibits.
Jane’s career as an artist initially took the form of music, but she soon turned to visual arts. “I was a music major at Mount Holyoke and have a Master’s Degree in choral conducting from the University of Hartford. My senior year of college I decided to take studio art classes – something I had always wanted to do, but hadn’t had time for. I loved it, and particularly loved the opportunity to draw or paint what I saw in the beautiful New England landscape on and off the campus.” Jane continues to be an active singer, having sung with the Vernon Chorale for several concerts, but it is her eye for nature and landscape that is most frequently on display in her artwork. “I do a lot of plein air painting, which I think is the truest form of landscape painting. But I also work from references I have taken myself, including photos, sketches, and field.”
Her love of art is paired with a strong persistence and dedication to creating. “Honestly, I had no idea whether my art was good, bad, or indifferent. I worked hard on drawings, etchings, woodcuts, etc. Finally, during final exam week, at about 2:00am with papers due and a recital looming, I cranked out a silk screen featuring a red umbrella on a strip of yellow sand by a strip of blue ocean. The teacher said, ‘Finally! Something spontaneous and not greeting card art!’ It took me about 40 years to understand what he meant.” Jane’s work ethic continues to pay off. Her artwork has been exhibited throughout New England and New York City.
Over the years, Jane has experimented will several mediums, but ultimately was drawn to pastels. “In college I loved printmaking. But pastel is my strongest preference. I love the immediacy and the vibrant, luminous effects I can get with pastel.”
Jane’s art studio is in her home, and each year she participates in the Artist Open Studios tour in November, opening her studio to art enthusiasts, displaying works-in-progress and answering questions. And she isn’t unfamiliar with questions about art; Jane teaches the Pastel Painting class at Arts Center East. “I love teaching. To me, making art and teaching others to make art are completely connected to my work in music – analyzing the composition, developing tone and dynamics, having a disciplined practice schedule, fixing problems, and creating something beautiful in the end.”
More of Jane’s artwork can be found on her website and you can also sign up for her newsletter.