Art Connections Gallery is excited to feature three wonderful artists in our January Second Saturday Soiree "Triple Play" on January 11, 2020 from 4 to 7pm.  One of the three is New Ulm artist Jean Blais Oliver.  We were able to interview her this week to find out a bit more about her and her experiences as an artist.  Read below and enjoy.

Tell us a little bit about your life before you became an artist.            
          I have always been something of an artist.  I drew even as a child and all through school.  I did work for many years in business, teaching and also as a legal secretary.

Did you do art or artsy things growing up?
          Yes, I always was drawing, coloring, making paper dolls and such. 

When did you start to make art and why or how did you make the decision to do this?
           I have made art throughout my adult life, much of which was commissioned portraits.  I started my current work after retiring 8 years ago.

Who was your first mentor or person of inspiration?
          I didn't really have a mentor although my father did a bit of oil painting when I was a kid so I got a bit of an introduction to art that way.  I also had a few drawing teachers in college who were quite influential.

Who is your favorite artist?
          I don't really have a favorite: there are so many I like and admire.  I was always partial to the Impressionists, especially Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.  I also admire the drawing skills of Norman Rockwell and M. C. Escher.

Where have you studied or learned to do what you do?
          I majored in fine art in college with an emphasis on drawing.  I began working with colored pencils about 25 years ago and am basically self taught although a lot of drawing principles apply to that medium also.  I frequently study books, magazines and articles of other artists to learn new techniques. 

Where do you get your inspiration for each drawing?  How do you decide what to draw?  Tell us a little bit about how you approach a drawing.  The process that you use to work through one.
          I am inspired by nature, especially how the seasons affect the foliage, light, etc.  I take numerous photos and study them for their compositional strength and general appeal.  I then do an initial drawing, making adjustments as needed to strengthen it.  I then work from dark to light to fill in the detail.

Tell us any other details about yourself or your art that have made you the artist that you are today,
              I can only say that years of drawing and training my eye have made me the artist I am today.

What is your favorite thing about being a professional artist?
          I can't say I really consider myself a professional artist since I don't make a living from it.  But I will say that I draw because its like second nature to me.  Now that I have more time to indulge I am happy to share my art and perhaps sell some as icing on the cake.