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Rutland’s Jane Moore Houghton Adds Whimsical Style To Folk Art Roots

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 

Rutland's Jane Moore Houghton describes her mode of artistic expression as "whimsical style with folk art roots."

In her paintings, created using a plethora of materials and mediums including acrylics, watercolor, tissue paper, graphite, ink, and oil stick, Houghton wishes to portray subject matter that challenges her while hoping to provide a wide range of personal meaning to viewers.

"For example," she explains, "my series of seed pods and blooms began as a personal metaphor for inner potential and personal growth. I saw the concentric circles in the seed pods and blooms as collections of seeds of experiences leading outward to new experiences and understanding. To some they were just lovely images with a floral theme which is fine too."

Currently, she is working on a series called "Beasts,” the goal of which is to feature animals in danger as a result of mankind's encroachment on their habitat and way of life.

"Within the compositions, I work in details that have something to say about this relationship. But, to some viewers they feature the animals they relate to while portraying a sense of humor that they can construct a story around. This experience is just as valid," she states.

Houghton has been an artist her entire life, and a talented, courageous one at that. Born in Trenton, NJ in 1964, she received her first private art tutoring when she was just ten years old. She began challenging herself from the get-go.

"She started me with oil portraits – the very thing I later discovered a young student should never start with. Perhaps this started me on a fearless path in art," she explains.

Houghton received accolades for her artistic efforts throughout high school and considered it natural to want to go to college to further her studies. However, her parents would not let her go to a traditional art school, as she explains, for rather humorous reasons.

"My parents would not let me apply to art schools like RISD where my cousin Lane had gone. He came home with stories of girls with pink hair and that danced with trees. Although I thought it sounded fabulous, to my parents in the late 1970s this was not for their daughter."

Instead, she would attend Skidmore College, a liberal arts school with a robust art program.

"It was a full and challenging program and I never regretted it," she says.

She and her husband moved to Rutland in 2000 so their three children could grow up in a peaceful environment surrounded by nature. Thankfully, these characteristics also make the town a great backdrop for the artist.

She explains her method of creation in vivid detail, showing an expert grasp of her specific style.

"By using the tissue paper layered over the acrylic with the addition of a gel medium (for pastels) I can paint with water color and mark it with colored pencil almost like I am working on paper. In this way I can add detail and interest."

These methods are important for her goals with each painting, especially when working on commission for a client, as she often does. These details, though often not noticeable at first glance, are essential ingredients in meaningful pieces of art.

"My commissioned works are often very personal and hold much detailed clues into an individual or family’s memories. I want my work to provoke emotion and conversation. I want them to become part of the family in a living environment."

Ultimately the world itself is full of detail, so much so that each day you notice something new in the most familiar places. This is why, ultimately, any subject, even the most simple of things, can inspire an artist's imagination.

"Like most artists I am constantly picking up imagery ideas as I move through my day. Whether it’s noticing a color relationship of a weathered red barn covered with the mossy greens of a vine or noticing how the forest life changes each time I walk my dog on the rail trail near my home."

Day to day, Houghton, like most artists, doesn't know what will inspire her. It often comes out of the blue. Which brings us back to the theme of courage, for this type of out-of-nowhere inspiration can be very dangerous for the way in which she chooses to organize her work. Painting "series" of works on similar subject matter as she does, Houghton has to be committed to a certain topic, that will surely take great time and effort, and not allow distractions or doubt to creep into her mind.

"I often start a series scared to death because it seems too out of character for me," she explains. As an example, she continues, "the seed pod series (it’s had several titles) started as a way to meditate on the angst I was feeling over trying to balance my roles as mother, wife, friend, community member, with the person I thought I was and wanted to be (the seed inside me that never changes). This seemed too heavy at first for my whimsical style but I trusted the process and decided to see where it would take me."

Trusting others takes courage, trusting yourself takes even more, especially when confronting your deepest personal emotions. Judging by her success, she has been triumphant in this quest.

Houghton has shown her art at numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Massachusetts, at galleries in Worcester, Marlborough, Rutland, Holden, Auburn and Newton, as well as in New Jersey and New York. As mentioned, she has painted commissioned work for a multitude of clients as well. She is a member of ArtsWorcester and the Rutland Cultural Council, and is the owner of Thurston Hill Creative Arts.

Looking to the future, Houghton hopes to soon approach galleries with her emerging "Beasts" series. She also hopes to develop an interesting adult curriculum to encourage creative expression and making time for finding one's voice. She hopes to take these ideas to international workshops in the future.

For more information on Jane Moore Houghton, visit her website or find her on Facebook. 

 

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