t h e Nor t h Ca r olina – ba s ed pa in te r bri ngs p e r s p ec tive a nd play fuln e s s to h e r ex pr e s s ion i s tic wor k s by G u s s i e Faun t le r oy
It’s telling that in Jane Filer’s paintings, humans are often smaller than the dogs, birds, flowers, and assorted unknown creatures that populate her colorful, fantastical worlds. “I want to put us in proper perspective in my art,” explains the artist, speaking from her home and studio in the North Carolina woods. “It’s a focus on loving nature and embracing the whole thing—the planet, animals, even insects—and how we need to take care of the earth.” The combination of imagination and buoyant spirit that characterizes Filer’s work—and her warm, upbeat personality— has roots reaching back to her early childhood on the California coast. By age five she was drawing and painting daily: houses, boats, trees, fish, “similar to what I paint now,” she says, smiling. A few years later her family lived for two years in Western Australia, where she was taken with the otherworldly quality of Aboriginal art. Back in America she earned a BFA with honors from Southern Illinois University and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Today collectors from around the country and around the world are drawn to her award-winning work. In 1986, Filer and her husband, a consulting forester, bought 16 wooded acres west of Chapel Hill. For four years, while
Bay of Mobal, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 39" 92
Above: Lovers in Dreamtime, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 65"
building their home themselves, they lived in a camper on the land, and Filer painted in an attached lean-to. This close-to-the-earth experience reinforced the artist’s love of wild places and taught her to notice details in nature. It contributed to the development of a deep, continuously refilling pool of imagery and feeling from which her paintings emerge. Each of Filer’s pieces begins as an abstract underpainting, with the artist intuitively moving color around. “The next thing I know, shapes and color start to become a composition—a movement or melody or symphony,” she says. With a foundation of rhythmic layers of color and pattern, Filer works and waits until she notices something that compels her to pick up charcoal and then sketch in, and then paint, a figure or form. With each step, the painting evolves as an experience of “free-falling discovery,” as she puts it. Stories emerge, but not in a literal narrative sense. “It’s a visual expression that depicts my emotions and spirituality and my life as I’m experiencing it,” Filer says. “I guess if I could write a poem or song, I would. Thank goodness we have art!” Jane Filer’s work can be seen in Santa Fe at Bill Hester Fine Art (billhesterfineart.com).