Meet the Artist: Jann Schonke

the artist studio | oct. 2017

In what mediums do you work?

I enjoy working and experimenting in various mediums sometimes combining several in one piece. Watercolor is what I always come back to mainly because it is a very spontaneous media and it is possible to achieve various degrees of intensity of pigment by adjusting the water in your brush.

When were you first interested in art and at what time did you know it would be a part of your life?

I have always been interested drawing and doing things with my hands, I find it impossible to sit for long with nothing to do. I grew up in a neighborhood of all boys and being a “girly girl" I found few playmates to play with so my mother encouraged me to play dolls and soon I was designing my own paper dolls and making clothes for my other dolls.

From where do you draw inspiration?

My mother was a great inspiration to me; she encouraged my interest in art and a bit later in music. I also got to go to college because she convinced my father that girls needed an education by reminding him that they both had sisters that had been left to raise families alone because of death or divorce. My great aunt Martha also helped my mother in her determination to see me go to the university. There was never any doubt that I would major in art.

My husband and I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel a great deal and usually we come home with lots of photos that I can turn into paintings. We refer to these photos as brush fodder. Even when driving across flat Nebraska I am contemplating how I would paint the beautiful constantly-changing cloud formations.

My favorite subjects have always been people and the majority of commercial work I have done is commissioned portraits. I particularly enjoy painting children, which have been the bulk of my work. I have portraits in homes all over the U.S. My portrait of Ed Weidner hangs in the Weidner Center.

If there is something you'd like to say with your work or a message you'd like people to walk away with, what would it be?

At present I teach drawing for the UWGB Lifelong Learning Institute and enjoy having people who have always wanted to learn to draw in my classes. Many retired people have been surprised and excited to learn that they have a latent ability to create art.

How much of a role has living in Northeastern Wisconsin played in your work and where can your work be viewed?

I belong to The Art Colony and exhibit with them and also Northeastern Wisconsin Watercolor Society, which has two yearly shows when an affordable venue can be found. I have work included in the websites of both organizations. The Botanical Garden has a dedicated area, which is used to display and sell the works of local artists. Hopefully, more public gallery spaces will be available to display local artists work. Having been to many of the world's famous art galleries I come home and look around at our local artists and realize we have many very talented artists who produce art on a par with many of the highly touted artists around the world.

If you have a favorite quote or words of advice for aspiring artists, what would they be?

Painting for me is the act of using a brush full of paint to turn a white paper into a personal expression of something I see that intrigues or challenges me. Most important to successfully accomplishing this is to start out with a well thought out drawing.

The Green Bay Art Colony, founded in 1915, is the oldest art group in Green Bay. The Green Bay Art Colony is a woman's organization that promotes the arts in the community through exhibitions and scholarships.

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