Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Conversation With Janae Corrado

"Paradise Lost" 2010 Oil painting by Janae Corrado
"Paradise Lost" 2010

Janae Corrado, an artist from Florida, creates imagery that explores symbols stemming from her own personal experiences and the natural world. Corrado's artwork is filled with raw feminine beauty and poetic, song-like qualities. 

I love how the artist creates strong female figures juxtaposed in various environments in nature. Another aspect of her work that struck me is how the wood surface is used as part of the overall design. Corrado spoke with ArtSeen about her artwork and artistic practices.

Can you tell us a little about your artwork, artistic background and artistic processes?

As an artist, my personal experience informs everything that I do. It’s vastly important to me. The one thing that truly defines me as an artist is my own subjective experience.

Personal symbolism informs my artwork. For a lot of the "symbols" there isn’t a single definition. It can vary from painting to painting. The trees that continue to occur within my work can represent anything from strength, wisdom, life, death, and rebirth. Animals, plants, and insects are spectators acting as witnesses to events occurring just out of view.

I've been creating since before I can remember so I suppose I've been an artist my entire life. It has always made me happy and given me an outlet to any struggles I was experiencing. It was a comfort to retreat to the art making process in both good times and bad. When I graduated high school it seemed only natural to pursue art as a career and I proceeded to attend the University of Central Florida for both my Bachelors of Fine Art (computer animation) and then my Masters of Fine Art (painting).

My process typically starts with a sketch from imagination. When I select an idea I want to push further, I will photograph my subjects to get reference for my lighting and colors. I work with oil paint and I use it very thinly. I almost use them like watercolors in very thin washes to get the effect I want. Working this way also allows me to retain any underdrawing or other qualities in my surfaces. I more often than not work on wood panels, and incorporating the wood grain is an integral part of my process. It can be time consuming but I am patient.

"The Daughter of Bones" 2012 Oil painting by Janae Corrado
"The Daughter of Bones" 2012
What inspires you as an artist? Why do you create art?

I have always been inspired by nature; plants, animals, insects, etc. As a child I was fascinated by those elements of nature that most young girls would shy away from. We lived in a wooded area, so there was this seemingly huge world for me to explore and I wanted to bring everything home. My parents didn’t discourage my taste in collecting and in a few years I had quite an accumulation of pet lizards, skeletons, feathers, leaves, sea shells, and dead insects – my own cabinet of curiosities.  Also, since my youth, I have been attracted to female faces and forms. These female figures began to appear early on in my sketchbooks; certainly by my middle school years and are readily present these days.

In addition to flora, fauna, and the female form I am also inspired by music scores and song lyrics. I cannot work without some kind of music in the background; anything from Bach, Beethoven, techno, industrial, and black metal. Lyrics and song titles are often re-purposed as titles for my pieces.

Creating art in some form is a part of my life. I cannot see my life without it. It is both a creative outlet as well as therapeutic to me. I often joke that I'd go crazy if I wasn't able to create in some way but the more I think about it the less like a joke it seems.

 "Ros Solis" 2011 Oil painting by Janae Corrado
"Ros Solis" 2011
What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore within in your artwork?

Some of the themes that occur in my work can include the interaction of mankind and nature, the human condition, and these are usually accompanied by an injection of mythology, be it well-known or personal. This is usually done using symbolism.

Are there any artists that inspire you? If so, who would they be and why?

There are countless artists who inspire me, and I'm usually inspired by a variety of different reasons but a short list: John William Waterhouse, Gustav Klimt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Moreau, Alphonse Mucha, Michael Hussar, Gerald Brom, Kris Lewis, Natalia Fabia, Andrew Jones, Audrey Kawasaki, Justin Coro Kaufman, Johannah O'Donnell.... there are so, so many more! I'm inspired by their technique, their imagery, the meanings of some of their work, and I enjoy learning from what they have produced. Seeing artwork up close and in person tells you a lot about how the person works. With some of the more contemporary artists, I've been fortunate enough to have met several of them in person. It is a complete joy to have the opportunity to pick their brains about how they work and see a piece in progress from start to finish.

"Return to the Depths" 2011 Oil Painting by Janae Corrado
"Return to the Depths" 2011
What do you think the role of the artist is?

I feel that the role of an artist is to intrigue the viewer, to have them come back to look at your work more than once, to inspire them, to move them, to have the image linger with them.
Can you discuss current projects you are working on?

At the moment I'm not working on any major projects; however I am pursuing a new body of work based on the Venus, referencing the goddess from mythology, and contrasting the idea of the Venus with contemporary women. I've also been incorporating carnivorous plants and other interesting flora into this body of work (such as Venus Flytraps, slime mold, etc).  I am currently taking a slight detour to work on a tribute piece to one of my models who passed away unexpectedly last week.

"Scavenge the Riches" 2012 Oil painting by Janae Corrado
"Scavenge the Riches" 2012
And finally, what advice would you give to other artists?

My advice to other artists – art is like riding a bike. You may not be very good at it once you start, you might even wipe out, but the more you practice the better you will become. Constantly challenge yourself. There is always room for improvement. Always remain humble regardless of what level you are at.

"Nectar" 2010 Oil painting by Janae Corrado
"Nectar" 2010
For more information about Corrado and her artwork, you can visit her website for more details. 

All images provided by Janae Corrado.

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