Artist Q & A: Janna Watson

Janna Watson Bau-Xi Gallery

In this new artist Q & A, we speak with Toronto-based abstract artist Janna Watson about the technique, colour palette and inspiration behind her upcoming exhibition, I Didn’t Eat The Garnish


1. Tell us about your new exhibition, I Didn’t Eat The Garnish. 

This series invites indulgence in art. I zoomed into the moments of the composition as if the canvas was a brimming platter, ornamental and appetizing. Inspired by the age-old idiom, "you can’t have your cake and eat it too," I painted to the contrary. I explored the duality of consuming something desired and still holding it in your possession.

2. The inspiration for the new collection is explorative play - tell us what this means to you as an established artist with iconic works.

While viewing pieces to hang on my studio wall, I was considering what to pair together based on their background palettes, or negative space. Mid-thought, it struck me that sorting blocks of colour at large was feeling one-dimensional, like the repeat of a rehearsed song. I decided to couple pieces instead with contrasting negative space. I did not have a plan when I started following these experimental curiosities; "I played what's not there," in the words of trumpetist improvisor Miles Davis. As I worked on the floor, particularly with larger paintings, I noticed feeling like I was inside of the painting while crawling on top of the composition. Inspired by a shift in dimension, I delved to re-create the perspectives I experience for the viewer. 

3. What or who do you consider to be the greatest influence on the development of your art? 

The greatest influence on the development of my work has been the work itself. I paint every day, and the more I do so, the more I understand my materials and what they want to do. The genesis of one idea often to leads to the next, and a sort of evolution unfolds. Looking back, two accelerants to my core foundations have been the childlike elegance of Cy Twombly and the wildness of Joan Mitchell’s gestures. Today, I lean away from the study of other painters' work; an open mind can be easily influenced and style is incredibly personal. I practice what I paint, and the more I paint, the more I paint like myself.   

4. Tell us about your most important material used in your creations.  

My brushes have been pivotal in developing depth in my compositions. My earlier work is comprised of a lot of the same brushstrokes in smaller bundles. It has been amusing exploring with dimensions using seven different brushes with silky bristles. They have a charming place in my collection because they are all flat, wide, and cute. They have better haircuts than me.

Click here to be added to Janna Watson's Special Interest List 

Join us at 340 Dundas Street West, Toronto June 8-29 2023 to view Janna Watson's I Didn't Eat the Garnish in person. 

Janna Watson Bau-Xi Gallery

Photos courtesy of Janna Watson and AnneMarie Minardi
Continue browsing
Your Order

You have no items in your selection.