Art, // December 1, 2015

Jane Radstrom — ARTIST

Jane Radstrom

Jane Radstrom

Interview with artist Jane Radstrom —

Jane Radstrom is a figurative painter living in San Francisco, CA. She is known for her unique pastel portraits of people depicted with multiple poses layered over one another, so that they appear to be moving. Radstrom’s work is shown in galleries across America, and has won awards from The Portrait Society, The Pastel Society of the West Coast and Pastel Journal Magazine.

1. What is your typical day like?
Because my studio is in my apartment, I like to start my day by getting out of the house. When my husband leaves for work, I go to a coffee shop around the corner where I catch up on my emails or brainstorm new pieces. After coffee, I usually spend the rest of the day painting in the studio. I often lose track of time, and find it is 3 or 4pm before I break for lunch. I try stick to regular working hours and paint with the best light (daylight), so I don’t usually keep going late into the night. One day a week, I teach life drawing at Academy of Art University.


"Lady in Blue" 22x30 pastel on paper 2015

“Lady in Blue”
22×30 pastel on paper 2015



2. Why figurative art, what attracts you to painting people?
A person’s appearance comes across not just in how they look, but how they move and even how their attitude radiates into the space around them. That depth of history and emotion below the surface is something I don’t get from objects or places, and it makes people endlessly fascinating for me.



'Unstable Ground" 29x59 pastel on paper 2013

‘Unstable Ground”
29×59 pastel on paper 2013


3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I got started later than most people. Growing up, I did try out a range of artistic pursuits from acting to metal welding. But, it was not until I was about 16 and took my first life drawing class that I felt I had found something I really wanted to work hard enough at to make it my career.





"Repose" 24x51 pastel on paper 2013

24×51 pastel on paper 2013


"Boundaries" 26x38 pastel on paper 2015

26×38 pastel on paper 2015


4. What inspired you to start using the Double Exposure effect in your work?
I was first inspired by a photographer friend’s long exposure portraits. My work has always had a focus on the human body, and especially the individuality of the people that I paint. When I choose poses to layer, I look for a juxtaposition of expressions or body language. It shows more nuance about the person I am painting to show more than one expression.




"Lost" 22x30 pastel on paper

22×30 pastel on paper


"Girl in Stripes" 26x38 pastel on paper 2015

“Girl in Stripes”
26×38 pastel on paper 2015


5. Do you work from models or from life?
For my gallery works, I hire models and shoot photos. I want the poses to be candid, and people just cannot hold that kind of body language for hours on end. I do like to get to know my models a bit, so that I can choose images which express something authentic about them.





6. Who are some of your influences or inspirations?
I love 19th Century painting for the loose rendering and compositions (John Singer Sargent, Abbott Handerson Thayer, Abram Arkhipov) and also look to established contemporary realists like Alex Kanevsky and Diarmuid Kelley for the ways that they depart from pure observation. My color palette inspiration often comes from contemporary media – advertising, movies, even Instagram filters.


"Secrets We Tell Ourselves" 51x51 pastel on paper 2013

“Secrets We Tell Ourselves”
51×51 pastel on paper 2013


7. What advice would you give to other artists?
The more work I do, the more inspired I am – but just thinking about working won’t do it. Setting up a regular schedule to draw/paint every day has been the best thing for my development, when I was a student and as a professional.


"Morning Light" 16x20 oil on panel 2015

“Morning Light”
16×20 oil on panel 2015


8. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Right now, I am represented by 3 galleries in America, and show regularly all over the country. I would like to expand to show in Europe and Asia. I’m sure that I will still be painting, and that my work will have evolved – maybe into more oil painting.




Jane Radstrom

Jane Radstrom