Painting from Life is Not the Life this Painter Wants

Jane Schmidt only thrives in a “nutritious art environment.”
Portrait by Karin Strickland

You won’t find Jane Schmidt’s car parked at a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook so she can perch behind an easel, painting a mountain sunrise. That isn’t how this Asheville artist does landscapes.

“I paint from memory and from having visited many places throughout the country,” says Schmidt, who moved to Asheville three years ago. “If anything, once I settled here in Asheville, my palette became more green. I’m more mindful of waterways. 

Swirling Waters

Schmidt took a circuitous route to Asheville and to her artistic life. She was born and raised in Michigan, spent 25 years in Arizona — where she worked as a graphic designer and got her MFA — and then moved to Charlotte. She came to Asheville because, she says, she “needed a more nurturing art environment.”

Back in school, when she spoke with her professors and tried to narrow her artistic focus, she moved from still lifes to landscapes. “I was so interested in color and the interaction of color that landscapes proved to be a better subject matter,” she explains. “I feel that more than a landscape painter, I’m a colorist, and landscapes are just the excuse to play with color.

Color Field

“I’m constantly aware of how colors are reacting to each other. There’s a little bit of spontaneity, but there’s more thought than not in terms of deciding colors and color families.”

Schmidt’s artwork has been sold in prestigious galleries across the country and has appeared on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, NBS’s crime drama Chicago P.D., and in the 2013 film Last Vegas that starred Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, and Morgan Freeman. She’s also made commissioned work for a hospital system in New Haven, Connecticut. Officials found her through her website and liked the composition of her landscapes and her use of color. And as she’s taken on more and more of this type of work, she’s learned that there’s a bit of important psychology in the colors she’s asked to use — like not using reds for a painting that will hang near an operating room.

More Than the Eye Can See

Even greens, blues, and purples are carefully arranged, “depending on where they will hang and in which facility,” she says. These paintings have specific palettes dictated in a large part by where the paintings will hang. These paintings can be either healing or encouraging, stimulating or calming.

“I really enjoy it. In the end, it’s helping people to heal and it’s visually stimulating in the right direction.”

A Bend in the River

Jane Schmidt ArtWorks, Riverview Station, Studio 234,191 Lyman St., River Arts District, Asheville. Schmidt is having a “Spring Fling” sale Thursday, April 11, through Saturday, April 13, 11am-4pm, where all paintings in her studio will be 30% off. For more information, call 704-998-7958, see janeschmidt.com, or look on Instagram (@jschmidtartworks).

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