Janet Malenfant: Fresh Inspiration

Janet Malenfant

The inspiration for my CSA project is a painting I created this past spring titled ‘Wisteria.’ This piece is a large scale abstract and is my interpretation of looking up through a wisteria vine with shadows and glimmers of green leaves, sky and the white bright of sparkling sun. I have a neighbor with a spectacular garden and she’s allowed me to lay on the ground and gaze up through the flowers. Yesterday I came across a beach rose on the sand and the colors with the sky, water and beach surrounding it had a feeling of sparkling energy. Looking at nature this way can create unusual lighting and bursts of color and I enjoy interpreting what I see.

Working on this Community Supported Art program (CSart) has encouraged me to reflect on my presence as an artist to the greater community and to develop connections to people who are interested in my work. When I worked as a graphic designer it was a much more collaborative process than painting alone in my studio. I’ve discovered that sharing my painting process and concepts is a way to explore and develop new techniques.

My greatest challenge is to create multiples (50!) of my work. Creating this many paintings has forced me to think out of the box and explore new ways to develop my paintings. I began by photographing flowers, gardens and trees from unusual angles to capture sky and texture. Next I took notes and painted small studies to begin developing an abstract interpretation. In order to paint this many paintings on the 6×6 gesso boards, I first created a wood frame that will hold about twenty of these boards snugly. With this frame on my easel, I treated all twenty boards as one painting to give me a starting point for my work. Next I pulled them out and laid them on a work table to begin the second phase of filling in the individual paintings. There is a certain rhythm in working this way and the many layers give the paintings a sense of movement and passage of time. The final stages will include fine tuning with oil pastels and other media.

My journey to this body of work stems from a series of macro bokeh images that I photographed a few years ago. Some of those images were taken through trees into sunlight and the abstraction and color derived from those photographs were surprisingly saturated with color and movement. I wanted to try this with paint and on a larger scale and ‘Wisteria’ was created. Replicating that imagery on a smaller scale for this project has been interesting and rewarding and I hope those who purchase a share with my work feel the sun, sky and beauty of nature in the paintings.

So far, in the early stages of working on this CSA project, I’ve been able to reflect on things that I don’t always give focused attention: my social media presence, website and my general presence outside the studio. I am grateful to the Cambridge Arts Council for awarding me a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to develop this body of work. It’s given me the opportunity to grow as an artist and to share this project with a new audience. The CSArt program is a fun and exciting way for people to collect art and support arts in our community and it feels great to be a part of that creative energy!

Study for the CSA Project: janet1  6×6 inch cradled board set up in newly constructed frame for underpainting:


Boards laid out for second stage of painting:janet3

Detail of unfinished paintings:


Facebook: Janet Malenfant, Artist

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