Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet Jeane Vogel

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I wanted to start featuring other artists on my blog and I am excited to announce my first artist interview!

Meet Jeane Vogel. I first came across Jeane's blog a couple of years ago and was deeply inspired by her work, energy and willingness to give back to the community.

Enjoy the interview and her beautiful images:

What is your primary method of creating your art? Have you experimented along the way with other techniques and/or tools? If you are a photographer, have you gone digital? When? How was the transition?
My primary medium is photography, though I completely embrace alternate process photography over traditional image-making. I am constantly experimenting and pushing beyond my knowledge. Photography is the most exciting and versatile medium, allowing for endless possibilities of creation of images beyond what we can see.

I purchased my first digital camera in 1996. It was a piece of crap, but the most scintillating piece of crap I ever held in my hands. I shoot a lot of digital – all my portrait and corporate work is digital – but most of fine art is still film. I adore Polaroid film, old and new.

I’m known for my hand-altered Polaroid Paintings, infrared photographs and hand-colored photos. Most recently I’ve been combining my Polaroid images with other media – pastels or watercolors – to create mixed images that I find especially excited. I’m not trained as a painter but I’ve taken enough classes – and I know how to open a book. When I experiment I know I’m creating something uniquely mine.

"Summer Garden"
Watercolor Painting & Photo transfer on watercolor paper
9x11 inches
©2011 Jeane Vogel Studios, All Rights Reserved

What are your favorite subjects?
The next one I come across.

Who/what has inspired you?
--Artists: Artist Frieda Kahlo and photographers Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange have been my inspirations. They told the truth in their work. Also painters Henri Rousseau, and Andrew Wyeth. All of these artists produced work that transcends what the eye can see.

--The competition. Sister and brother artists.

--The wonder of creation. I know that sounds hokey, but it’s more than just “nature,” which is inspiring to me, but frankly, it’s inspiring to EVERYONE. The notion of creation -- specifically the Big Bang that created the universe – is overwhelming in its immensity and simplicity. A few chemical compounds collide and –poof!-- events are set in motion that result, so far, in what we see around us. But it’s not all goodness and light and children singing. Creation has no morality, no consequence. Creation is the earthquake in Haiti and China and Chile and Japan. It’s a tsunami that wipes out 250,000 people – PEOPLE – in Indonesia and 30,000 PEOPLE in Japan. It’s hunger and spring flowers, war and a random pattern on the sidewalk. Creation is everywhere. Artists are profoundly fortunate to be partners in creation.

Being an artist is a privilege.

When did it first hit you that you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always thought the answers to all life’s problems could be found in the shelves of an art supply store.

What has your path been like? School, art related jobs, freelance, commercial......
I’ve had a most direct, convoluted path. I’ve always been an artist, but I didn’t always believe in myself. I just work, work, work.

Infrared photograph, hand-colored with pastels
11x14 inches
©2011 Jeane Vogel Studios, All Rights Reserved

How would you describe the current direction of your work? Any changes on the horizon?
Always changing. I can’t understand artists who have one body of work and never deviate from it. I do hope, though, that my work always is thoughtful, careful and honest.

In October of last year I embarked on an major art project, Dare to Touch the Face of God, a series of intimate portraits of people of faith in response to intolerance, hatred and fear mongering. The project will take years to complete, but I’m planning to open the exhibit on 11/11/11, which happens to coincide with my 55th birthday. I like the rhythm of the numbers and that the date commemorates the end of WWI, the Great War to End All Wars.

The project has already been a tremendous learning experience for me. I see “people of faith” in expansive terms, while many people I talk to respond as if it’s just about religion. It’s not. Faith transcends the concepts of religion. The project is not about photographing religious people, but chronicling human ideas and principles that separate us because we fear each other.

I encountered more barriers that I expected – funding for example – but the obstacles have deepened the scope of the project and will enhance it in the long run, I think.

Were you supported in your efforts to become an artist?
Yes and no.

From the age of 10 my father groomed me to be a lawyer. I almost went to law school, but came to my senses a few weeks before classes started. I worked in college as a photographer and writer, and went to work as a journalist. That was almost as important as the law. I thought I was supposed to do something important with my life – change the world. I did not yet understand the overwhelming power of art in our lives.

Other artists, patrons, jurors and instructors have been extraordinarily generous and supportive throughout my career. There are a handful of artists whose work and opinions I deeply admire and trust. I listen to them.
I don’t think anyone in my immediate family, except my husband and children, understand why I’m an artist and that I cannot be anything else. My mother and siblings don’t. A couple of years ago, my mother, a spry, active woman in her 70s, saw my work at an art fair. “People pay for these?” she marveled. She wasn’t trying to be mean. She just didn’t get it.

A lot of artists are up against that attitude and it erodes their confidence. They stop making work. They don’t enter juried exhibitions. They never know if they are any good or if they can get better.
When I do workshops at high schools, I always tell the students that it doesn’t matter what friends and family say about your work. Ignore them. Find people you trust who can mentor you and then mentor others, no matter where you are in your career. You’ll learn more and gain confidence.

Family and friends have one of two responses: all your work is great, or you’re stupid to even try to do this. Both responses are worthless. My husband LOVES everything I do. I ask his opinion a lot, but for ego, not critique. Sometimes we just need to hear the praise of someone who loves us unconditionally.

Unless your mother is the head of MoMA, who cares what she thinks? Smile and move on.

What brings you the greatest joy?
I love the act of creation. There are some days I start working before I take off my coat. I rush into the studio, toss my bags on the bench, and examine what I did the day before. Is it as good as I thought yesterday? Can I make it better? Or, does this one go in the trash?

But creation all by itself is selfish and one-sided. Art is communication and needs another to be whole.
When someone connects with my work, has an emotional reaction that is so visceral and spontaneous that the reaction escapes their being before they realize it – that becomes a moment of great joy. If they buy it, even better.

Does paying my bills at the end of the month count as a “joy”?

"Savannah Breeze"
Polaroid Painting
24x24 inches
©2010 Jeane Vogel Studios, All Rights Reserved
Can you share a little about the workshops you teach?
I love to teach. I have regular workshops for Girl Scouts, homeless teens and "regular" adults! I have two goals in teaching --aside from learning something myself: to encourage students to think more broadly and deliberately about their art than they have before, and to teach something that is not typical art workshop fare. I ask: how can we do this differently? How can I put my own stamp on this work? My workshops are about teaching technique, experimenting, combining media and letting your imagination loose!

For example, when I teach hand-coloring, we start with my favorites: pan and half-stick pastels and watercolors, but I insist we try painting with wine, tea or coffee too. The results can be quite extraordinary! I also teach lots of alternate process techniques: cyanotype, photo transfers, Polaroid alterations and emulsion lifts. Guided photo tours are a personal favorite because I'm enchanted with watching a group of people make very different work from the same landscape, and helping them expose and frame their vision in a photograph.

Any words of wisdom you would like to share?
Art is not frivolous. Art separates humans from every other life form on this planet. We’ve been given a great and precious gift – our ability to create art, our ability to understand art, our ability to appreciate art.

We shouldn’t squander that gift by just trying to make it match the sofa.

It should match our soul.

Thank you Jeane for your insights and passion for sharing your work.
To find out more about Jeane:

Jeane Vogel Photography
Studio: ArtSpace at Crestwood Court

Fine Art:
Dare to Touch the Face of God project:


  1. Greetings dear Dianne,

    Congratulations on your first interview and one for being in depth as well.

    As I read through the post I felt that Jeane's responses to some of the questions was very Zen like and filled with a sense of humor. I mean her response to 'what is her favorite photograph' is precious as is her reply to when she decided she was going to be an artist, that the answers to life’s problems could be found in the shelves of an art supply store.

    Thank you so very much for sharing and introducing us to a new artist.

    Warmest regards,

  2. Thank you Egmont! It's funny - you picked up on my two favorite answers as well, but found everything Jeane said to be thoughtful and inspiring.
    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Lovely interview. Although I know a little about Jeanne it was great to get some more insight into her thoughts on photography and art. Art is not frivolous - oh yes !
    Am now off to have a look at her project.

    Best wishes !

  4. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!
    It's good to get the word out that that "art is not frivolous"!
    Thanks again.....