Keeping it real
Laura Cartledge meets an artist who uses pastels to change your perspective.
Janine Shute has crafted a bottle which can’t hold milk, a hat you won’t be able to wear and knives that won’t cut – but I’d still happily own any of them.
You see the pastels artist makes the
ordinary into something extraordinary.
She modestly says ‘it’s just drawing’ but there’s no doubt Janine’s substantial skill turns everything from kitchenalia to kid’s toys into masterpieces.
“I’ve never been able to draw in a style. It was always realistic,” she explains.
“I have tried to be more illustrative but in the end you have to do it as it comes.”
While the realistic collection is recent, Janine’s creative path stretches back to school, to a job in the city doing graphic design and across many different mediums.
“I’ve done painting and murals, I did some at the school our children went to,” she reveals.
“My painting is completely abstract, big brush strokes mainly in black and white.”
The shift to her current style ‘just happened’ after a gift from a friend inspired her to experiment.
“The first still life was the shoes, that was about two years ago,” recalls Janine.
“Learning to use the pastels has been quite challenging – it was like starting again.”
A constant has been the Lewes mum’s love of drawing, but she admits she had previously not embraced her style as it hasn’t always been ‘fashionable’.
“I remember reading somewhere that you split your life into ten year slices and thinking ‘yeah right’,” she laughs. “But it does feel like that – this is what I am doing now.
“It’s a relief for me now, this is what I can do,” she enthuses.
“I wouldn’t see what I do as fine art, it is somewhere in-between – I just call it drawing.”
Instead the hardest part for Janine is picking her subjects.
“Often it is just something that catches my eye,” she confesses.
“I really love interior design and product design so it is often linked with that.”
It makes sense then that the finished artworks have been credited with highlighting craftsmanship.
For me this is best seen with Janine’s rendering of an iconic piece of uniform.
“The policeman’s hat was commissioned,” she reveals. “He needed a postcard to send out when officers have done well.”
Other requests have seen customers ask Janine to personalise her pieces.
“I have done a couple of bespoke tape measures, like the one for someone’s 50th,” she lists, “and a knife with someone’s initials on the handle.”
One standout project has been producing the front cover for Viva Lewes, a magazine which covers her home town.
“It’s a lovely thing,” she beams. “We had a launch night and my friends came to that – they weren’t really sure what I had been doing for the last couple of years.”
The image, which features a rebranded retro cotton reel, is reflective of Janine’s simple approach.
“I draw what I see, if it has a dent or something missing, I draw it,” she says.
The highly detailed end result makes you look at things you know in a new way, but, having said that Janine is mostly drawn to objects with a history.
“I prefer to have things that are old and used,” she agrees.
“People have family heirlooms and it would be nice to draw them rather than them being in the cupboard.
“eBay is a good place to source things too,” adds Janine. “It does really vary.
“I have a spatula I have done. I saw a set of them when I was watching a film, I think it was Pride. I stopped watching and got online to track them down.”
Currently Janine is seeing her attention attracted to the seventies with Playmobil and Action Man among the nostalgic items being captured.
The focus may change but something that doesn’t is Janine’s dedication, with each of the pieces taking between eight and 12 hours depending on the object.
“Things like the cotton reels you can’t do any quicker,” she insists, “it is about the mix and building the layers.”
Having lived on a farm for the last 14 years, I have to ask how Janine finds the time?
“I take myself away,” she replies. “It is just a small holding really and my son is 14 now so he can do a lot of the work I used to.”
Janine will be exhibiting in Lewes Artwave at Keizer Frames Limited, Pastorale Antiques, at 15 Malling Street, Lewes in August.
To find out more about her work, including her move into prints, visit www.janineshute.com
May 29, 2015 Culture and Events