Member Interview: Jeanne Griffin

My first introduction to Jeanne Griffin was when we had a New England Wax meeting at her home in Maine.  She gave us a tour of her studio and spoke about the work that was on her walls.  I remember how she talked about her exotic world travels and the influence it had on her work.

Share a little about yourself:

I grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts in a family of four girls.  My mother and we were all artistically talented in one way or another and I assumed everyone could draw.  Years later, when I was teaching at Holliston Jr. College, out of curiosity, I sent for my high school transcripts.  I was surprised to see a simple statement that said “Jeanne’s artistic talent is noteworthy.”

Petals, 8″ x 10″, encaustic on panel

Rather than pursuing a career in the arts, I went into the medical profession where I had a successful career as a Clinical P.A.  I loved my work but after 20 years needed a change and decided to take a one year sabbatical.  That one year turned into eight of the most wonderful years of my life! I was accepted into the Museum School and, subsequently, Tufts University.  The Museum School was very loose regarding studio art.  Rather than focusing on one particular area, it encouraged students to take a variety of classes.  This approach gave me a general understanding and appreciation of all forms of art.

Scattered, 18″ x 18″, encaustic on panel

Following my graduations, I joined Kingston Gallery in Boston.  I spent the next twenty years exhibiting at Kingston Gallery and served as its Co-Director for two of those years.

How did you start working with wax:

Eighteen years ago, I took a private workshop at R&F in New York in order to learn the basics of encaustic painting.  Over the years, I’ve continued to many take various workshops in order to learn different techniques and have been painting with encaustic ever since.

Describe your process of creating art:

I don’t sketch before working but I do spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do and how to proceed.  These ideas may percolate in my subconscious for months.  However, once I begin to work, the ideas spontaneously come out through my fingers.

What are your inspirations:

My husband and I are avid travelers and have visited all seven continents and over eighty foreign countries.  I get many of my ideas from these travels.

Blue Lagoon, 8″ x 10″, encaustic on  panel

Describe one of your pieces and what you were thinking as you created it:

When we were in Australia, we spent some time in the Northern Territory where many aboriginal people live and work.  Every area approaches art in the own particular way.  Colors are also site specific as their materials were originally made from local material such as ochre or iron clay.  I was fascinated with their art and how they use dots to tell their story.  Aerial views are characteristic of desert Aboriginal art.  When at Ayers Rock, we took a helicopter ride around the area.  Looking down from above gave a different perspective of the landscape.  In Dreams from Uluru, I drew from this image which depicts my version of life and landscape from above (on the left) and a magnified view of the earth (on the right).

Dreams from Uluru, 14″ x 28″, encaustic on panel

What might someone be surprised to learn about you:

When my husband and I were in Mali, Africa, we were invited to have tea with President Alfa Konare.  We entered his exquisite palace where the marble floors were covered with huge oriental rugs.  The visit was televised and we became instant stars!

After our visit, we were presented with a beautiful, large, well groomed, white ram which was escorted up the marble stairs, across the priceless oriental rug and given to us as a gift!  Fortunately, after a few pictures were taken, the ram was quickly turned around and escorted down the stairs.  Thankfully, he was donated to the Peace Corps in our behalf.  I secretly wondered how many times that ram had made the trip up and down the staircase!