Inspired by artists like Alan Hunt, Nancy Glazier and Carl Brenders, Jan Henderson began her career as a wildlife artist over 15 years ago. Rather than include a lengthy biography of Jan's many accomplishments, she has chosen to answer the questions that she is asked most often. If you have a question that you would like her to answer, please submit your question through the contact link listed on the top and bottom of this page.


Jan Henderson
Q

You've been a widely published and internationally acclaimed wildlife artist for many years, how and why did you shift to contemporary and abstract art?

A

Well, I love a challenge and I was commissioned to create a contemporary painting for a very special person in Dallas who has always had great faith in my talent. I loved the process and the freedom of expression along with using vibrant colors, and interesting textures captivated me.

 
Q

For so many years you were considered one of the top Colored Pencil artists in the U.S., how did you learn to work in oil and acrylic so quickly? And, do you have a favorite medium?

A

My mother was an oil painter. I've painted since childhood, so oil was easy for me. Acrylic is so versatile and with a little research and practice I was able to adapt to it well. Each medium has its best application. You just can't get the softness of fur with oil or acrylic that can be achieved with colored pencil. I really don't have a favorite medium.

 
Q

What is your background in art?

A

I started working as a Fashion Illustrator for a large retail store at age 17. I took some night groups, but most of my education came from on-the-job experience. I switched to working in advertising and moved up from Graphic Artist to Art Director and Production Manager. I left to teach college art groups. With my summers off, I began my venture into fine art. I entered a painting in the National Endangered Species Societies Art Show. When I won 'Best of Show' and 'First Place' in my category, I decided to focus entirely on painting.

 
Q

Your work has been reproduced as posters, limited edition prints, wallpaper borders, puzzles, t-shirts, needlecraft kits, greeting cards, etc. How do you feel about that?

A

I absolutely love it! I sell a painting and a few people will appreciate and enjoy it, but most people can't afford originals. Artists can be terribly isolated, and knowing that thousands of people love my work is very gratifying and satisfying to me.

 
Q

What inspires you?

A

Oh, that is so difficult to define. I love the creative process, taking an idea and working out the composition, the color scheme, textures etc. And, I enjoy the challenge of a commission. Each client has an idea in their mind, and wants something unique created just for them. Understanding their desires and meeting that goal is exciting.

 
Q

What do you consider your greatest strength?

A

Capturing the personality of an animal. I've done many commissioned pet paintings. The animal literally comes to life for me. I can sense them and it becomes easy to capture their image, nature and personality. I also have a strong background in composition and I apply that knowledge to everything that I create.

 
Q

What has been your most unusual experience as an artist?

A

In 2006 I was asked by a fellow artist to help her judge an art contest. Two competing tattoo studios wanted impartial judges. . .and we were it. Well, we were lucky to get out of there in one piece. These guys were big, burly, pierced biker types. The competition was fierce, the stakes huge and enormous egos were on the line. After declaring the winner we managed to escape and ended up doubled over laughing.

 
Q

What should people consider when buying art?

A

Only buy what you love. Consider it a visual investment, not financial. The painting will probably increase in value, but few people really care about that. Limited edition prints do increase in value when the edition is sold out, and originals increase in value, especially if the image is published.

 
Q

Do your buyers share any interesting stories about your work and how people relate to it? There must be thousands of prints that people have in their homes and offices.

A

I hear some fascinating stories about my art. A grade school principal has my chimpanzee print "Contemplating Moments" hanging behind his desk to make kids feel more comfortable in his office, but my favorite regards a private club (Utah's version of a bar) where the owner was adding a fine dining room. He bought many of my prints, and when I delivered them he asked me to help him with the decorations of the then 'under construction' room. I choose the paint, carpeting, upholstery, designed the logo and stained glass. Several years later I heard that someone pulled a vehicle up to the emergency exit door, during the day when the room was closed, and loaded up all of my art. Nothing else was taken. It's a strange compliment that someone wanted my art so much that they were willing to go to jail for stealing it. Strange, but true.