Born in Gainesville and raised in Sherman Jan Talley Stewart first drawing she remembers making was a horse.
Her grandfather had horses, and she would try to remember how the horses jaw felt in her hand and would attempt to capture the roundness of the horses jaw.
She has always dabbled in art from an early start.
As child she was thrilled to be gifted paints and crayons and then found herself lucky enough to take private lessons with an artist when she was young. She continued her art classes through school. Her art teacher in high school, Jay Buckner, had a great influence on her as did her art professors in college.
She graduated from Austin College with a double major in communication arts and English and with a minor in art.
She eventually found her calling as a teacher, teaching English for two years until she found English wasn’t her thing. She landed a job teaching theatre, her other passion. She continued teaching theatre, speech and art for 25 years.
Throughout her life she’s tried to keep some aspect of art in the forefront.
“Only recently, upon retirement, have I had the time to really spend making it a second career,” she said.
In this time, she continues to work on refinement to find her niche and to find more outlets for her work to be seen.
Stewart’s focus in art go from drawing to painting to mixed media and sometimes even painting on pillows she makes with her son. She feels drawing his her strongest suit, choosing to work with graphite and prisma colors.
“The process of manipulating those mediums through different amounts of pressure, erasures, and rubbing, is an amazing experience,” she said.
She enjoys using found objects and vintage ephemera, items that exist for short term enjoyment, to create her artwork. She paints in acrylics, sometimes in watercolors, citing her paintings are usually figurative and representational with impressionistic leanings.
“I have painted abstracts as well, and found it to be pretty therapeutic and just down right fun!” she said.
She is most proud of a drawing she did for a silent auction. She donated a framed drawing of a woman who was emerging from a rose. She had a sunflower in her, which is symbolic of warmth, positivity, power and strength.
“The expression on her face was that of someone taking their first breath of fresh air after a long ordeal,” she said.
Titled “Survivor” it was auctioned to raise money for Ampersand Sexual Violence Resources in Lexington, Kentucky.
“It was not only the drawing I was proud of, but also the fact that it brought in money for a much needed organization,” she said.
Time has always been an obstacle for her pursuing her passion, but she admits since she has retired that problem has diminished some. The other obstacle she has encountered is how to price her artwork.
“There is a formula where you take the cost of your materials, plus the amount of hours you spend working on the piece (including the time to envision what it’s going to be), plus how much you think your hourly time is worth and add all of that together to get the amount,” she said. “The drawback I have found with that formula is that even if I spent many hours on a piece, if someone else looks at it, they don’t see that. There is a large gap between a price of the piece and what someone is willing to pay. Art collectors know that if they want quality, original, handmade pieces of art, it is going to be quiet a bit more than a mass marketed piece sold by big box stores.”
Stewart loves that there is a thriving art community here in our own backyard.
Jan Talley Stewart sells her artwork in local art shows and is currently represented by Gallery off the Square here in Sherman. Most recently she had work hanging at My Friend’s House in Denison but the suffered damage in the 300 block fire. They do plan to re-open and she hopes to be there again as well.
For commissioned pieces she sells work via word of mouth, Facebook but prefers email: email@example.com.