Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Jane Hartley on Symbolism in Art

Jane Hartley's art on the cover of the March 26, 2021 Dan's Papers issue.
Jane Hartley's art on the cover of the March 26, 2021 Dan's Papers issue.

This week’s cover artist, Jane Hartley, talks about her Eastern inspirations, how she weaves symbolism into her work and more.

Jane Hartley headshot
Jane Hartley

What was the inspiration for this piece? Talk about how you layer in symbolism and meaning into your still-life work.
I wanted to explore combining the concept of symbolism that is such a part of the narrative in our traditional still life painting in the “western world” with the rich culture of symbolism in the Far East. The result of this exploration and research is a series of paintings with layers. Each has a story or a legend. And the symbolism attached to objects in the paintings convey a blessing or wish upon the owner. This painting is one in this series.

Jingdezhen Blue & White is about prosperity and success. Jingdezhen was world famous for producing the best porcelain wares for imperial use. So every object in this painting alludes to attaining that prosperity and success through hard work and sacrifice. And the wish to the owner is:

“Some people dream of success…while others wake up and work hard at it. May you enjoy the fruits of your labors.” —author unknown

More about this particular piece and the symbolism is on my website.

Your work is realistic but has a very distinctive style. How has your work evolved over the years?
Over the years, I think my work has taken on more of a surrealist quality, probably because more comes from my imagination now—like the stories. So while I use recognizable objects, they may be arranged in unusual compositions to create a sense of mystery. And hopefully it encourages the viewer to get into the story or make up one of their own.

What inspires you the most as an artist?
I’m thinking what inspires the most is my imagination.

Who is an artist, living or not, who you’d love to sit down and talk with?
If or when I have that chance—any artist, living or not.

See more of Jane Hartley’s work at janehartley.com and at the William Ris Gallery, 1291 Main Road, Jamesport, williamris.com.

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