• Jan Thoreen Lewis


Once upon a time . . .

That’s actually how every painting  begins – with a story. A connection to a place, a scene, a person, or the hand of God expressed in nature.  And the more powerful the story, the connection I feel, the more the painting paints itself, just asking to be told.

The more powerful the story behind the scene, the more the painting paints itself.

Take this tree, for example.  One month after 9/11 Dave and I had a trip planned to New England to see the fall colors.  As you remember, travel was very different than we had ever experienced, with National Guard troops with AK47’s in the airports.  But there was beauty too – American flags everywhere.  On barn roofs, doors, windows, porch railings, everywhere we looked we saw the Red, White, & Blue.  It was incredibly moving. Patriotism was more popular than our country had experienced since WWII.

During this trip we were driving from Pittsfield to Deerfied, MA  and passed this beautiful pond with a glorious tree leaning over it.  Of course I hollered, “Stop the car!” and took a slew of photos hoping to capture the glory of this moment in time.

Painting meaningful scenes from the stories of others is the beating heart behind any commission.

Commission in progress.

Arkansas River Valley Memories, private collection.

To me it represented not just a beautiful scene, but the strong, indomitable spirit of our country.  It has weathered many a storm, been attacked and battered, but it still stands.

Whether a place, a pet, or a person, a commissioned painting becomes the jewel in the setting of a home.

For an anniversary gift several years ago, a woman in my community asked me to paint a watercolor of the cabin where her son and daughter-in-law spent their honeymoon.  Though it was rustic and tiny, it held precious memories of a time in their lives that glowed with joy. Years later I got to know them and they realized that I was the artist that was able to remind them of their joy every time they pass the painting on their wall.  This is the fun of every commission – to give the gift of a precious memory.

So no matter how mundane or magical the moment, every story deserves to be told.  What are the favorite stories of your loved-one’s lives? Remember them, tell them, and capture them!

Honeymoon Cabin, private collection.
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