Jane Moore Houghton is a mixed media painter living and working in Central Massachusetts, US. Jane received a BS in Studio Art from Skidmore College in 1987. Since 2006 she has been granted seven solo exhibitions as well as several group shows. Jane’s latest series of works, her “Beasts” series was shown in a solo exhibition at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester, MA this past winter.
This series features large, enthralling portraits of endangered and at-risk animal and plant species. Jane’s unique technique of using embroidery on layers of tissue paper is a feature of this series and has caught the attention of a variety of media outlets: Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine (11/12-2014), several podcasts and online blogs. Most recently, Jane was asked to speak at the Nantucket Whaling Museum about this impactful series. You can connect with Jane on her website, janemhoughton.com
1. What’s your medium of choice and what do you love about it?
For my mixed media work I use acrylic, gouache, ink, oil stick and colored pencil. I have recently (in the last few years) developed a technique of incorporating hand embroidery on tissue paper into my paintings of endangered and at risk animals. I developed this technique as a way to honor my grandmother who taught me to embroider when I was a young girl. I love using it in my work as a way to stay connected to her memory. Plus it feels like sketching with thread which has been challenging and fun!
2. What are you working on right now? What’s on your camera/desk/easel or in your studio?
I tend to have a few irons in the fire at the same time! Currently I am working on an emerging series of works called “Beasts II: Heritage Breeds and Heirloom seeds” …which grew out of my “Beasts” series, featuring endangered and at-risk plant and animal species. I will hang a solo show at the end of this month with some pieces from both series. I am also developing a commercial art portfolio and am launching my first advent calendar kit this season. This kit grew from a spontaneous act last December of posting a “doodle” a day from my sketch books during the advent season. They were so popular that I decided to offer them as an advent calendar kit this year . It includes 24 doodles on 3” x 3” cards that can be displayed on a tiny wooden easel or hung on a cord with tiny clothes pins (all included).
3. What practices/activities are most valuable to your creative process?
I try to keep structure and simplicity in place so that my creativity can sprout from a place of peace. I keep a weekly calendar that I keep organized by using different colored sticky notes for each type of task. For example, orange notes are for anything that falls under the exercise category… blue is business related tasks… pink is time making art… yellow is mediation and consultation or research time… green is anything related to my roles as mom, wife, pet owner, friend, etc… I can move the notes around and block out time for each thing in a given week. Also, I try to start my day with a little meditation time and journal writing to get my “monkey brain” to get grounded before starting my day.
4. What’s one thing you want to share with others about your art and/or process?
I guess I would want to share a bit about my embroidery on layers of tissue paper technique since I don’t know of other artists doing this in the same way… It’s a technique I developed where I make a tissue paper fabric of sorts by layering three layers of tissue paper glued together with gel medium. I smooth out the layers and hang them to dry. When it is dry it becomes like a delicate fabric that I can embroider on and then adhere the embroidered piece to the surface of my mixed media works. For example, a large portrait of a humpback whale I did in my Beasts series last year featured embroidered barnacles on the surface of his body. In my emerging “Beasts II” series I am beginning to use the embroidery in a less planned-out way and am trying to push the boundaries of using it in a playful and intuitive way.
5. What advice would you give to your young artist self?
The advice I would give my young artist self: get your work out there – not with the goal to get published (I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator) or to be an instant success but to get feed back and grow from the experience so that you can reach your goals. Don’t let the fear of success and how that might change your life hold you back. Find a mentor and set up a lunch date with them every month. Find a tribe of other artists trying to do what you are wanting to do and support one another. Don’t ever stop making art.
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