Sunday, April 4, 2010


San Diego resident Jane LaFazio is a mixed media artist who usually works in paper and cloth.  Inspired by her surroundings and often the symbols of traditional folk arts, her work displays a common theme of texture and color.  Jane loves to teach, to travel and is a brilliant watercolorist - she will be combining all three loves in May of this year when she travels to teach in Orvieto, Italy.  We are fascinated with her original Rainbow Series of 'slow cloth' and hope you enjoy her work as much as we do!


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:  Did you always envision life as a full time artist?
JANE LAFAZIO:  No, I never even thought of it until I was laid off from my marketing job at an architecture firm in 1998.  I started painting watercolor in 1993 - I'd begun framing and selling my work and was just about to have my first solo exhibition and then I got laid off.  So I spent the next 5 weeks madly preparing for my exhibition and made the decision (leap of faith) to try and be a full time artist - for 6 months.  Now, 12 years later, I'm still a full time artist!  Of course, we've made lots of adjustments, like moving to a smaller house, cutting expenses etc. but I know I'm living the life I was meant to lead!


RWSS:  Do you have a dedicated studio space?
JANE:  Yes.  I turned a bedroom in our home into my studio and I love it.  It's crammed with materials and inspiration and with a sliding glass door that brings in light and fresh air when needed.  I love having a home based studio, it works perfect for me.


RWSS:  What inspires your creativity?
JANE:  So many things!!  Walks through my neighborhood, visits to museums, looking through magazines (I especially love Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts) and reading books by and about artists. I create my own art and I teach a lot to both adults and children, so I'm always on the lookout for a good project to teach.  It really stretches my creativity!  I get an idea and I have to work through it to make it succeed and to teach it.  These projects spill over into my own work.  And frankly, I love the thrill of a new technique!


RWSS:   You have the ability to create wonderful pieces in a variety of media- is there a favorite one to work with?
JANE:  I really love working in many different media.  I was the kind of kid that loved those kits from the craft store (with all the material provided in the box)...make your own plaster of Paris figurines, paint your own wooden Christmas ornaments, make a set of clothes pin dolls, needlework and embroidered pillow tops...I love it all and could seriously spend the day right now playing with one of those kits!  Now, of course, as an 'artist' I create my own original artwork, but the point is that I just love to make things!  So, back to your question.  I love my watercolor sketchbook, that's my art at its most paired down form with the simplest of materials.  I love to hand stitch - I started sewing on my watercolor paintings about 14 years ago before I realized I could sew on cloth too.  (Really.  That's how I began making art quilts).  And also, continuing from childhood, I love to cut and paste.  So...there you go!  That's why I work in such a variety of media, I really enjoy them all.  Anytime I can draw, paint, cut, paste and sew, I'm happy!


RWSS:  Are there any of your own pieces  you can't bear to part with?
JANE:  Two.  One is a body print, started in a workshop and finished on my own.  It's very personal, and I wouldn't part with it.  And a small quilt I did when my precious JazzCat was ill.  He's since passed away and the quilt hangs in our living room.

RWSS:  Any indispensable tools or equipment?
JANE:  Besides reading glasses?  I've got to have my sketchbook, pen and watercolors.  And needle and threads (I'm hooked on hand dyed perle cotton, size 12).

RWSS:   You created the Mundo Lindo program in 2007.  Would you tell us a bit more abut that project and its importance to you.
JANE:  Thanks so much for asking about this.  It is one of the things I'm most proud of.  In 2007 I saw a request for proposal for a grant to 'teach your passion' here in San Diego. I was lucky enough to receive a 2-year grant from the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation so I could create, teach and provide the supplies for after school art classes.  The classes are free to the low income 4th & 5th graders.  After the grant ended at the facility where I was teaching, The California Center for the arts, Escondido offered me a job to continue on with Mundo Lindo, just as I had before.   Their education director had watched my Mundo Lindo kids for two years as the kids were totally engaged in painting, drawing, collage, building with clay, papier mache, sewing art quilts and puppets! I create all the lessons, which has let my imagination soar and I've watched the kids grow in art and social skills while making art.  It's a great program, and I'm so proud that I'm able to offer it to the children.
Mundo Lindo Beautiful World is the blog dedicated to the Mundo Lindo project.


RWSS:   The value of having a mentor is.......
JANE:  Well, I refer to Danny Gregory as my mentor.  I started reading and commenting on his blog, and he's so generous and so encouraging.  He posted some photos of a kids art class I taught (the lesson was on sketchbooks:  Leonardo DaVinci and Danny Gregory's).  Then I met him on a sketchcrawl in LA, then he included me in his book An Illustrated Life.  I'm so proud to be in that book!  He's just a great guy who has started soooo many people on the sketching path.
I also consider Pokey Bolton a mentor.  She's been so supportive of my art and her attention has really advanced my career.
And whenever I'm asked I try to be a mentor.  Whether it's teaching art, helping a student find their voice in art or helping an artist with marketing ideas or offering scholarships to my classes.  And I strive to be a mentor to all my Mundo Lindo kids!

RWSS:   Favorite quote?
JANE:  "Nothing is worth more than this day".  Goethe

RWSS:  Best advice you've ever received?
JANE:  Hmmm.  In my late twenties,  I was going back to college and my husband advised me against taking bookkeeping and filing classes and to take art classes instead.


RWSS:  Your thoughts on the importance of keeping a sketchbook or journal?
JANE:  When I teach my "Sketching & Watercolor:  Journal Style" workshop, I state at the start of the class that I hope they will fall in love with drawing, just like I have and will be inspired to keep a sketchbook.  For me, it's the act of drawing and painting that I love so much.  Drawing from life helps you become more aware of your surroundings, whether at home or away.  Drawing reveals what otherwise may be missed.  Sitting still allows you to be more aware of the sounds and smells and really see the random detail that makes up life.  Drawing completely absorbs you.  Your journal serves as companion and entertainment center. Drawing helps maintain a deeper connection to the moment, to time, to the world around you.  It brings your life into sharper focus.  It's an authentic record of how you see the world around you.  Working in my sketchbook is like a meditation for me.


RWSS:  You have had the opportunity to travel and live world wide.  Favorite place you've been or lived?
JANE:  Good questions!  My more recent travels have been to colonial Mexico, which I love.  the folk arts and traditions of San Miguel de Allende and Oxaca especially fascinate me.  Husb and I visited Tuscany a dozen years ago, and still rave about the experience - food, art, scenery- so I'm thrilled we're going back this year.  In Asia, I love Hong Kong and Thailand, though I have not been in years.  And New York, for the theatre, museums and excitement.


RWSS:  You will be teaching Bella Italia - a course on creating an illustrated travel journal in Orvieto, Italy this year.  Any advice on the basic essentials everyone should have to create their own travel journal kit?
JANE:  I have a pretty simple kit that's worked for me for years.  A Moleskine brand watercolor sketchbook, a superfine point Pitt artist pen in black, pencil, kneadable eraser,  Jiji waterbrush and a small plastic palette containing an assortment of watercolors.  I keep it in a bag, so I can just grab it.


RWSS:  Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
JANE:  Oprah - and spend the day being interviewed on her TV show.  Oops.  I suppose I should have said something deep like Nietzsche or Buddha.....

RWSS:  What are three things that people would be most surprised to find out about you?
JANE:  I was an international flight attendant in my twenties, I was a contestant on Hollywood Squares in the late '80's and won a car and I went tandem sky diving in the early '90's.

RWSS:  Best part of your day?
JANE:  I'm blessed with living a life I created.  I pretty much live life doing the things I love.  Making art, teaching art, doing yoga, a glass of wine at the end of the day with my husband.  All good.


RWSS:  Your favorite luxury in life?
JANE:  Facials, yoga, taking art workshops and fresh cut flowers.

RWSS:  I'd be lost without.......
JANE:  My husband.  The use of my hands.  My sketchbook.

RWSS:  What's on the horizon for Jane LaFazio?
JANE:  Career wise, things are going great. This year I'm doing lots of teaching and travel, like in Orvieto, Italy in May, Idyllwild Summer Arts Program in July, Art Unraveled in Phoenix, CREATE Retreat in Chicago and taping a DVD in August.  I plan on continuing to make art, teach and write articles about art.  And I would love to go on a yoga retreat!


RWSS:  Any words of wisdom?
JANE:  Learn to draw if you don't think you can.

Jane is an avid blogger who regularly displays her wonderful work and techniques on the blog JaneVille.  She has an instructional video titled The Small Art Quilt and is often featured in publications such as Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors.  To learn more about Jane LaFazio please visit her website Plain Jane Studio.

All photographs courtesy of Jane LaFazio - thank you Jane!