We had the good fortune of connecting with Jane Barton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jane, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think the word “fear” goes along with the idea of risk, and I think that in my career taking a leap-from graphic design to painting, for instance-has been an integral part of my career journey. I think that change is a good thing and if you don’t take chances you won’t grow and just as scary to me, you won’t enjoy your work for very long. One way to mitigate risk, of course, is to find good teachers and do the work. My heart has pounded in my chest more times than I can count: at client meetings, art shows, in front of students. But when I know I’ve prepared well and take the plunge it’s always been rewarding.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the biggest lesson I learned along the way is to be flexible. Life does have a way of making you change course. I’ve learned not to fight that, but instead look for a way to make it work for me and my needs creatively and professionally. No, it’s not easy but I found it less difficult if I handled it that way. For instance, when the fashion illustration market dried up, I got training to work on the computer as a graphic designer. When my kids were young I started my own graphic design studio so I could work around their schedule–meaning at night! I was pretty fearless when it came to finding work. If I saw something in the paper about a business start up or thought I could improve on their brand I would cold call them and often got the account. One example is my work for Hughes Aircraft in the 90’s–I talked my way into a huge 2 year project positioning them in the Tucson community. I approached the University of Arizona to teach journaling classes. For the last 15 years I’ve been so lucky to be able to paint in locations around the world with artist friends, especially now when travel is a distant dream And now, with the virus, I have moved my teaching to online classes with the Scottsdale Artists School. Besides giving me the opportunity to teach (which I love) I’ve found a way to interact with other artists from all over the world on a regular basis. Win win.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Sharing my city with friends is one of my favorite things to do, but of course there’s the pre-covid itinerary and the post-covid version. In these strange times, I’d suggest hiking in the McDowells at Marcus Landing or Granite Mountain to see the beautiful desert landscape. We have many great museums but my two favorite are the Heard for it’s support of our Native American tribes and The Museum of the West for it’s beautiful architecture and to see the work of artists celebrating the West. That would bring them to a stroll in Old Town, especially on Main St., past funky western wear and custom cowboy boots and memorabilia shops, all the way to the Scottsdale Art Center and Robert Indiana’s huge LOVE sculpture. As for restaurants, brunch out on the patio at El Chorro (with sticky buns!) is a winner, Bianco’s Pizza is a great stop for lunch or dinner, La Grande Orange for any meal and a fun browse in their shop and The Mission or Barrio Queen for a great take on Mexican food. For a fancier lunch or dinner I love Virtu–for the intimate setting as well as the delicious food. I would also send them to the Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch on Friday at 4pm for a cocktail and the free Birds of Prey show. Also, if there is a light show at the Desert Botanical Garden it’s wonderful, especially if they get there while it’s still light and then settle down for the show as the skies darken. On Saturday morning I would recommend a visit to the Old Town Farmer’s market for coffee, a pastry or steaming Bao bun and some local products to take home. One more restaurant: Merci French Cafe! Amazing lamb burger and fries. Like a lot of local restaurants the location is in a shopping center, but don’t be put off–it’s owned by a local couple and is outstanding. OK, I’ll stop now!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My career path has been a winding one. I have to thank my Dad who enrolled me in the American Academy of Art in Chicago and sent me off to do what I didn’t even know I needed to do: make art. For my first art job as a fashion illustrator in Chicago I had the generous help from the senior artists in the studio. They had me drawing figures and fabrics 8 hours a day, five days a week and shared their years of experience and secrets with me. Then, as photography phased out illustration, I learned not to fear computers and used them to launch my graphic design career. At Syracuse University I had so many wonderful professors encouraging me as I worked on my M. A. thesis, about illustrators who became western artists, which led to my excitement about painting the West. I learned to paint from outstanding teachers at the Scottsdale Artists School: Skip Whitcomb, Matt Smith, Joni Falk, Milt Kobayashi and more. My dear friend, artist Joan Larue, taught me how to roam the world as a Plein air painter. What a gift. And now I am a teacher, too, so I feel like I’m paying it forward by helping other artists find their voice.