Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan Riggins.
Jan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I come from a family of hobby artists. My grandmother was a prolific painter, using oils, acrylics, watercolors, and colored pencils while my mother focused on watercolors and colored pencils. Every year, my mother hand painted individual Christmas cards for friends and family members using watercolors. Growing up, I always dabbled in drawing and colored pencils, but all through school I was focused on music.
I was an accomplished clarinetist and even earned a Clarinet Performance degree from the University of Oklahoma. As I graduated college and started a career in business, I continued to periodically work on small colored pencil projects for friends and family members. I only finished a couple of small pieces a year, but I liked the low-maintenance of colored pencils and anytime I felt the need to create, I could just sit down in my little art corner (or at one point a closet) and work a little more.
2014 brought big changes to my family and changed the direction of my art. My husband underwent his second open-heart surgery for a congenital problem, and he eventually decided to leave his job for a less stressful environment. At the time, I had reduced my work schedule to very part-time work that I could do at home and I was very involved with our daughter’s school. For financial reasons, I had to go back to work full-time, but I still tried to remain as involved and was the President of the PTA.
The stress was intense and I was struggling to keep it together. I had a great work-out group which helped, but it wasn’t enough. One day, I noticed that our neighborhood was starting an Art Club where members could meet once a week and work on individual pieces of art. I decided that this was something I needed to do! I had recently inherited a large number of art supplies from my grandmother, and I pulled out some watercolors and paper, quickly sketched out a photo I had of my daughter, and headed to the first meet-up.
That was it, I immediately became hooked on watercolors. While I had never taken any watercolor classes, it was very intuitive and I loved the results I was able to achieve. I moved on to painting my dogs and then set some personal goals. I created a website, Facebook page, and attended my first arts festival in 2016. I even entered some paintings in local shows and won 1st place in my first event. 2017 was my first full year to paint commissioned portraits and as I head into 2018, I am almost completely booked.
In addition to watercolors, I have also participated in the Fort Worth Chalk Art Festival for the past 3 years. I won Honorable Mention my first year, and then 1st Place and People’s Choice my second year, and my third year I was invited back to participate as a professional artist. Fort Worth has an incredibly supportive arts community and I look forward to everything 2018 will bring!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Time management has always been a very difficult challenge. Now that my daughter is older, I have more time at night and on the weekends to dedicate to art, but unfortunately, less time to cook and clean. Thank goodness I have an understanding and supportive husband and daughter.
However, in March of 2016, I began to experience unexplained dizziness that lasted for over a year before I found an accurate diagnosis. This made it difficult for me to concentrate, work, use a computer, read, and even walk around in a store. I pushed myself more into art because when I was “in the zone,” I didn’t feel the full effects of my symptoms until I looked up.
After numerous trips to doctors, optometrists, ENT’s, and neurologists, I eventually met some wonderful therapists with Harris Methodist Hospital. I was receiving therapy for vestibular dizziness, but after additional testing, my therapist suggested seeing a therapeutic optometrist. And just like that, I had an explanation that made sense! Binocular issues were causing all of the dizziness, nausea, headaches, and blurry vision. It wasn’t an easy fix. I went through many pairs of glasses and contacts as well as 6 months of visual therapy.
Nearly 2 years later, I’m still not back to where I was, but I definitely have more good days than bad. I did find out that this condition is typically inherited, and we had my daughter evaluated. While we had her eyes examined every year and she had been wearing glasses for several years, we did not know that she was seeing double vision. Several pairs of glasses and vision therapy for her has also drastically improved her quality of life. Reading used to be her most difficult subject in school, and now it’s one of her highest grades. Her anxiety has decreased and she’s a much happier kid!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My business has evolved over the past year. While I was originally interested in an only painting commissioned pet and children portraits, I started to branch out in other subjects. I started an animal alphabet series that I like to describe as a sophisticated alphabet for adults.
I look to nature and animals to find shapes that match the letters, not necessarily a spelling that matches. So my “R” is a flamingo drinking water and my “M” is a giraffe leaning down to drink. I also had fun painting animals from petting zoos that I had taken photos of over the years, and a cute goat became my most popular painting.
After a lot of research, I found an amazing studio to scan and photograph my work, Barron Photographix. With a digital image, I was then able to make high-quality prints of my pieces to sell at various arts and crafts festivals in Fort Worth.
I am often told that the detail in my pieces and my ability to paint eyes is what attracts people to my work. I definitely use techniques I honed with colored pencils to depict fur and hair with watercolors. I usually have to explain that my pieces are, in fact, watercolor paintings and not some sort of drawing.
What were you like growing up?
I was definitely a quiet, weird, introverted band geek. I preferred staying home reading to going out to parties and had a very small group of friends. I still have quite a bit of social anxiety if I am expected to mingle and avoid those situations if at all possible. Art is wonderful for introverts until you have to talk to people to try and sell your work!
- Website: www.janrigginscustomart.com
- Phone: 817-584-8851
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @janrigginsart
- Facebook: @janrigginscustomart