The Stunning Portraits of Jan Waller
An Artist to Watch
Emerging artists often bring us the most inspiring works of art, and emerging felting artist, Jan Waller, is the perfect example of this. She’s from the UK, but has recently moved to Michigan with her husband. Prior to leaving her home country she ran a crafting business with a friend, and before that, she was a secondary school art teacher.
Jan tells us that she originally trained as a sculptor, but after her second child was born, she became depressed, and her husband thought getting back to art was the perfect cure. He bought her a day of felting lessons with Britain’s celebrated artist, Gillian Harris – also known as Gillian GladRag.
Jan started out felting small pieces with a crafting approach in mind. She made shoes, bags and corsages to sell. She continued to draw and paint people, but she never showed any of her work because she felt her art was going nowhere. She began to felt landscapes while living in Australia. She took a few commissions and really enjoyed it.
Now that she’s in the U.S., Jan feels she’s finding her felting niche. She’s started using needle felting to add detail and different texture to her wet felting. She has also begun to draw into the felts with a free motion machine embroidery.
“This adds definition and a sculptural quality to the work,” she says.
“I started to incorporate figures into my landscapes,” she continues.
Her triptych, entitled “Nesting” was exhibited with the Ann Arbor FiberArts Guild. It included the pieces, “Birds,” “Hornets,” and “Squirrel.” She says, “I like to tell personal stories in a way that makes them look like they are from a story book. I like to use animals and plant life in my images, too.”
Her piece called “The Washing Line” is a sketch piece submitted for the ArtPrize 2012 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has been accepted, and it can be seen at http://www.artprize.org/jan-waller/2012/the-washing-line. The idea comes from a song called “Town Called Malice.”
“The line refers to women hanging their old love letters out on a washing line to dry,” she explains.
The final piece involves a large wall hanging of a girl hanging letters on a line in a landscape and then running from the wall hanging, there is a felted washing machine with individually hand felted and embroidered love letters pegged to it that can be taken down and read.
“I’m constantly asked how I make my felts as most people are unfamiliar with the process and can’t figure out how it looks like a painting but with cloth. I now tell customers that I paint with fibers. When I’m building up flesh colors, I am laying down the tiniest piece of fluff, but the fiber acts like watercolors laid over one another,” she says.
Jan works predominantly with merino and silk fibers; at times combining recycled fabrics and mixed media.
“I like to embellish my imagery with embroidery. My work explores themes of womanhood, love, loss, relationships and home.”
Jan Waller is one artist that is poised to make a great impact on the art world. Follow her at www.lovemakethink.com.