Artist Spotlight #10: Deanna Janssan

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Deanna Janssan

A peek at Deanna Janssan’s website tells of a talented artist who specialises not only in fan art, but also original portraiture and expressionistic artworks. The artistically trained individual perfectly captures heavy themes such as the chaos of daily life and the fragility of human emotions in her immensely moving art pieces. In COLLAGE’S interview with her, she tells us of her desire to experiment with different art instruments and her affinity for German Romantic art.

Q: Hello Deanna! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I’m a 23 year old who travels all around Adelaide! I work at Port Adelaide, study at Flinders and recently moved to Aldinga Beach. When I’m not in a vehicle between these places, I like reading quirky books, playing 19th century piano music and watching horror movies.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 1.17.15 amMetropolitan by Deanna Janssan

Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?

A: I love going on long walks, and find myself inspired by nature and all the various forms of light that you can see in the real world. I find it so refreshing and this always puts me in the mind frame to do more creative things. Naturally, I love the old Romantic landscapes and the Hudson River School. I’m also inspired by artists who find ways to use paint and other mediums in innovative ways, so this also lends itself to a lot of modern formalist work. It is easy to paint a realistic drawing but different to create atmosphere using the materials you have at hand.

Q: Do you have a preferred medium?

A: Water-soluble oils are the perfect balance between the inevitable messiness of traditional oil, and the convenience of acrylics. I love how they dry quickly but still have a smooth finish, and can be diluted to create different levels of weight. I also love the precise nature of coloured pencils and the ability to articulate a variety of expressions, and easily frame. This is something I really want to investigate further.

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Huts by Deanna Janssan

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: I’d like to think that my style is kind of like a rubber band, flexing between expressionism and realism. I don’t particularly see myself as an abstract artist. I love formalism, however, but feel the need to retain some reference to our real world as a common reference is what binds our understanding. Despite a few years at art school studying postmodern manifestos and the meaning behind modern art, I still have a bias towards art that is visually and “typically” beautiful so I suppose that informs my choices.

Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?

A: I don’t have a systematic approach and can be quite spontaneous. I find that I tend to work for a purpose, whether it be commission, personal interest or gift. From that point I generate ideas from that point that are related, yet different. In terms of method, one thing that I do consistently is exaggerating the colours that I see in undertones, so that hints appear throughout the painting. I love colour and feel like it is a great opportunity to provide an interpretation of the world that is unique to the artist. I usually finish with several layers of glazing.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 1.18.47 amDeanna at a previous exhibition of hers in 2013

Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?

A: I’d love to experiment with coloured pencils, and more work that combines figure and landscape. I love fantasy and myth as a genre, and would love to immerse myself in that world. On the other hand, I also want to work with more expressive, bold brushwork and on a larger scale, works that are surrounded by texture so that you get a real feel for the dimension of the piece.

Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?

A: I love Franz Xaver Winterhalter, a German Romantic artist. He painted court paintings and as a lover of historical costume, I am so entranced by the many beautiful dresses in his artworks. More importantly, I love that his works have such beautiful light, and the light interacts with the figures and landscapes in a way that softens the entire image. All his works are so carefully composed and embody our traditional ideas of elegance.

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Chaotic Mind by Deanna Janssan

Q: What is your favourite gallery?

A: Although it is not a ‘typical’ gallery recommendation, I actually source a huge amount of wonderful art from Tumblr! I have found so many artists and also find common threads in your art taste through review. I often find someone that I love and with a few clicks will find myself late into the night divulging their portfolio.

Q: Where can we find more of your work?

A: Unfortunately I don’t exhibit as often as I would like, but I do put my work up online – you can find a general overview of my work on my website. I also have a Facebook page with updates.

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Train Tracks of Sepia by Deanna Janssan

Q: If you won the lottery, what three items would you splurge on?

A: Firstly, lots of new instruments to learn. Secondly, a holiday to a tropical rainforest so that I can take hundreds of photos of all the intricate tree formations and paint them! And finally, I’d adopt a house full of puppies!

-Masya Zabidi

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