Artist Spotlight: Elizabeth Jancewicz

Beth and I became friends at Houghton College.  We had quite a few art classes together, and I was always excited to see what she would come up with.  You’ll see what I mean when you scroll down and look at the new world she’s creating in her paintings.  Beth was kind enough to let me interview her for my blog.  If you like what you see, be sure to “like” her on Facebook, and you’ll be able to get updates on the work she’s doing and her blog.

Brief bio:
Once I realized I wanted to do art with my life (or I should say, once I realized I could do art with my life; that was such a fun realization!) I have wanted to “just do art, all the time”. I’ve had a good handful of other jobs, even art-related jobs, in order to support my own work. But the whole time I always feel like “I’m just doing this until I can just do art, all the time!” And right now, I feel like I’m standing on the threshold of that; after this school year wraps up and I finishing my art teaching job, I’ll be diving headfirst into living off of art completely. And I couldn’t be more excited. I always feel like I have to laugh nervously and maybe make an excuse or two when I tell people that I’m going to try living off of art. I’ll be doing commissioned paintings, selling existing ones as well as some crafty-type things I do, and working more deeply into the children’s book illustrations world. (I currently have five finished self-published books; with four in-process, to be done within the year.)
Do you have a preferred medium?
I feel as though my preferred medium changes all the time. All last summer I used oil paint on masonite boards (I do love the boards, they’re so much sturdier and portable than canvases). But I also love bright watercolour washes. And the detail of stark black ink work. And right now I’m working on these illustrations that are soft graphite pieces with splashes of soft pastel colours here and there. And then sometimes I go on knitting or beading kicks. Actually, I think one of my biggest problems sometimes is switching mediums too often. It leaves projects unfinished or my techniques unrefined. I’m working on that.

What is your favorite part of being an artist?

There are so many things I could say here… I think the biggest one is this really good ache I get deep inside sometimes, when I hear or see or experience something so beautiful and moving and spiritual and joyful that I feel like I’ll just explode if I can’t share it with everyone in the world. By having the ability to put a tiny piece of that down artistically, it fulfills that longing to share that love.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from anyone about art?
I think a lot of the best advice I got while I was studying art in high school and university was to not do something in art: basically whenever a teacher or professor would tell me not to do something or that I couldn’t, I’d try it out anyways, just to see what would happen. I think pushing things like that around a lot and experiencing things a lot for myself really helped me to expand my talents and figure out what I loved more. Also, I realize that this is not the best advice for everyone, but for me, it was the best way I could learn. And luckily, most of my best professors figured this out and used it to challenge me. (And now that I’m an art teacher, I feel so bad for them.)
What is your favorite piece?
My favorite piece of art that I have done goes back a couple years ago to an “abstract” assignment in university. Abstract is such a hugely broad term, so I decided to take it in the figurative-abstract realm, developing through a series of oil paintings and finally finishing with this massive creepy thing involving seaweed-type hands grabbing at fish with children’s heads and huge detailed patterns and washes. That painting was a bit of a “breakthrough” for me, and though I’ve completed tons of works since that are probably much better, I still love this one as the piece that completely changed the direction I was going in. It also hold some weird and unexplainable spirituality for me. I actually even have a little fish-boy tattooed on my inner arm, underneath a part of a hymn. (The painting is titled Contained Within the Fish and is a reference to a song by mewithoutYou.)
You’ve been doing a lot of awesome art for the band Pocket Vinyl.  Who else is involved in Pocket Vinyl and what is your roll? 
Pocket Vinyl was know as the Series and contained a handful of guys while I was in university. Last summer the name changed to Pocket Vinyl with a new album (Protagonist) and that’s when I sorta joined. I say “sorta” just because I don’t actually do anything musical. I mean, I tap my foot and sing along at shows, but not much besides that. Oh, and I paint.
Even though Pocket Vinyl has a few rotating members, the one keeping it going is Eric Stevenson, who does most of the writing, singing, and piano playing. He invited me to join for Pocket Vinyl’s first-ever tour last summer, which took place all over the North-Eastern area of the US. Our shows usually only consisted of Eric playing piano and singing, while I then took up the other half of the stage to create an entire (usually 2’x2′) oil painting from start to finish during a single (usually) 45 minute set. We then would auction off the painting at the end of the show. We have to admit that the concept is not entirely our’s. There is another amazing band, Cloud Cult, that does this same thing. Of course, they are much more well-known then we are and are able to auction paintings off at much higher prices. The money from auctioning off the painting would help with our gas, food, and whatever other bills as we made our way to our next venue the following day.
To date, we have played 35 shows together with at least one painting at each, and we have never once failed to auction off a painting. Touring was definitely the most fun I way I have ever spent a summer, and I can’t wait to start up again!
I’ve been following the Pocket Vinyl music videos, and they are seriously cool.  Who came up with the ideas for each one? 
The music videos have been so much fun to make. I have to admit that Eric is the motivation and creative mind behind all of our videos thus far. While on tour this past summer Eric and I listened to a podcast interview with the band Pomplamoose, where they talked about the benefits of creating fun music videos that helped get their name out, so we decided to give it a try by combining my artwork with songs from Protagonist. Even though Eric has the basic ideas for each video, often the artwork is made up by myself completely on the spot (the same way I approach the on-stage paintings).
Which one was the most fun to complete?  Each video we make is the most fun! I know that sounds silly, but seriously. Once Eric’s edited it all together we usually watch it multiple times and feel all excited and thrilled to see the hours of hard work together put into it come together. Each one just seems better then the last for us. Which means we have motivation to continue making them!

I’ve always known you to be incredibly resourceful and hands-on.  Are you planning any DIY awesomeness for your upcoming wedding?
This past November Eric and I decided to get married, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to bring our talents together for good and, like I mentioned earlier, to both start living off of our art for real. The wedding is in the middle of July and the entire thing will be on a field outdoors. Also, because we will be living off of our art (and because I still have disgustingly huge college loans to pay off) we have a very tiny budget. So yes, that does mean a whole LOT of DIY-type stuff. To start off, I crafted our invitations, featured by the Offbeat Bride Blog, Eric folded literally hundreds of origami favors for our guests, I’m working on some hand-made interactive programs, we’re doing our own catering (tacos!), and as a nod to many of the musician friends we’ve made on tour thus far, we’ll be working lots of their music into our dance playlist. Also, although lots of my friends expected me to make my own dress, I actually found an almost perfect one in December while I was visiting my ex-roomie and maid-of-honor (one of two). Though I will be doing some major alterations.
And I DO have an etsy account that I just started. Not too much on there now, but I’m getting ready to add some jewelry made from caribou antlers and some hand-painted sheets of stationary paper!

About Melody

My name is Melody Martin. Check out my art blog, and learn all about the steps and techniques that go into oil paintings.
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2 Responses to Artist Spotlight: Elizabeth Jancewicz

  1. Erika says:

    Thanks for sharing! Great interview, and I love the art! =)

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