Without further ado, let's meet Janet Bolton!
Who are your favorite artists?
This is a difficult question to answer but one that I am often asked. Recently I went to see a new exhibition of Eric Ravilious, an artist whose work I have loved for many years. His use of pattern and disregard of naturalistic perspective pleases me very much; maybe of course, because it relates to the way I compose my own pieces. But it is much more than this. There is a calmness and an Englishness that pleases me immensely, and I can remember seeing his work from my childhood. Another artist, not very well known, is Mary Newcomb. Mary lived in Norfolk and painted her surroundings in an idiosyncratic way. Often her starting point was a particular range of colours, for example, the colours of a misty morning. Painting a canvas to explore these observations, she would often keep them and decide what to place on them at a later date, another working method that I often use myself.
Winifred Nicholson is another favourite, her joy was to paint light. She often used flowers as her subjects to enable her to do this. I appreciate the way she worked in and appreciated a domestic setting.
Alfred Wallis, a retired sailor, painted, he said, in later life to keep himself company. I love the way he places the different elements of his images and his uncomplicated direct approach, painting with household paint on anything he had to hand.
I could go on and on but must mention Elizabeth Allen, a retired seamstress who also worked with the materials she had to hand. In this case fabric, and it was seeing her work, by chance, that confirmed my decision to work with fabric rather than paint. (Janet talks a bit more about Elizabeth Allen in her new book... see below).
What is the best part about working in your studio?
The best aspect of working in my studio is that I am surrounded by all the inspirational bits and pieces, not to mention the fabrics, that I have collected (knowing that I would use them sometime) over the years, Everything is to hand and sometimes chance 'sightings' and juxtapositions can change the direction of a piece that I am working on completely, very exciting. The room is light and airy so pleasant to be in. Having said this, I do use the whole house as a studio but love the knowledge that I am never far away from “the mother ship”.
Do you like working in other mediums besides needle and thread?
Drawing, sketching, making small watercolour and crayon studies, and making small objects from bits and pieces go hand in hand with my needlework. Very rarely do I relate these to my fabric compositions; just occasionally an object has become a starting point for a textile piece.
What is inspiring your current work?
This is another difficult question as I never know from day to day what will inspire me or how a piece of work will develop. I work around themes but these subject matters can be returned to years apart, some I think will go on for as long as I do. At this very moment it is very warm here and I am working on a very pale cool abstract piece. Maybe I am doing what the Japanese do, work on, or wear, cool colours when it is hot, and use a warmer palette when it is cool. Who knows, I have only just thought of this, and maybe it is just because the weather is unusually hot here at the moment.
Do you have a favorite piece of work that you made?
My favourite piece is one I made many years ago, a landscape depicting a moorland scene. The fabrics used were dyed using plants from the area, and it brings back so many happy memories. (Janet talks about this piece in more detail in her new book... see below) I do have other favourites and one of the characteristics that they have in common is that they bring back good memories.
You’ve taught and exhibited all over the world. What are your favorite places to visit?
It is a strange thing but having taught all over the world it becomes more and more obvious to me that is the people you meet in very diverse situations that are the important factor. As people travel all over the world from one venue to another, the groups are often made up of people from many different countries. It seems to me that textile enthusiasts are a great group of people and we often find that we have many things in common, no matter where we come from or what our personal backgrounds and circumstances are. This makes the world seem quite a small place. The venues that I go to are so diverse that it is impossible to select a particular one. I have been going for many years to Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall, a favourite destination; a beautiful venue, but also the owners have become firm friends of mine. West Dean College is another favourite place and yet quite different from Cowslip, so as you can imagine I find it almost impossible to compare places.
Thank you, Karen, for your wonderful interview with Janet Bolton! Janet will be teaching a workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 2016. For more information visit www.womanwithaneedle.com For more information on Janet, go to www.JanetBolton.com.
In honor of Janet's upcoming workshop, Karen is giving away one copy of Janet's new book, Fabric Pictures: A Workshop with Janet Bolton - Creating a Textile Story today on Feeling Stitchy!
Karen says about Janet's book:
It’s the next best thing to being in a workshop with Janet. It’s full of beautiful pictures of her work. My favorite one is “Catherine and Ali’s Wedding Day” made by Janet for her son and daughter-in-law. She used a piece of fabric from her daughter-in-law’s wedding dress as well as fabric from her mother’s wedding headdress. It’s just gorgeous.
Janet walks you through where to begin, how to do it, and how to finish your work. Looking at all the pictures is inspiration enough for me to want to get started. If you don’t have any of Janet’s books, or if you have them all (like me!) you will love this book.
To win, leave a comment on this post by July 20, 9 PM US CST, and answer this simple (or difficult) question - who is YOUR favorite artist? They can be any artist - embroiderer, seamstress, designer, etc! This giveaway is open to all of our readers - including our international ones!