Thursday, July 9, 2009


Jane Allen Nodine with some of her encaustic works.

When I began to think about doing artists profiles for this blog, Jane Allen Nodine's name was one of the first ones on my list. I've know Jane since I was in graduate school as we were both beginning to exhibit our work and participate in the art scene in South Carolina. She has always been focused, steady and confident in herself and her work while being as genuine and approachable as can be.

Jane is a Professor of Art and Director of the Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Her work techniques include drawing, painting, design, jewelry-metalsmithing, installation and photography. Her work is well represented in state and regional collections and she was one of four artists selected by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee for the "Shades of Gray" exhibition. This fall, Jane will exhibit in the "225" F Encaustic Encounters Exhibition" at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, North Carolina.


Question: At what point in your life did you know that art would be your life's work?

Jane: As a child I realized it. This may sound presumptuous, but I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an artist involved in creating and working with my hands. My father was a residential builder and he did his own drafting work. There was a drafting table, t-squares, drafting pencils and blueprints around, so I saw these as normal everyday tools. My maternal grandmother was very creative and innovative. She had a green thumb, she fished in salt and fresh water, enjoyed wing shooting, enjoyed textile crafts such as tatting, crocheting and quilting, and she was a school teacher having taught all levels of K-12 in her career. My mother recognized my interest in art and enrolled me in private art lessons when I was in the first grade. That was about 1960 and we were doing sand castings, melted crayon paintings, and enameling on copper. These were strong experiences and highly influential on my development and continued participation in art and creative activities.

Trace .021 - Encaustic on panel.

Question: Tell us a little about your studio practice. Specifically, how do you develop new ideas?

Jane: As an art educator with a fulltime position at the Spartanburg campus of USC Upstate, I have to schedule my studio time in blocks that most often falls around holidays and summers. I try to keep Fridays as a studio day, but during school session it often becomes a time to pack and ship work, document and catalogue pieces, or just prep the studio for making new work. The summers and holidays tend to be the most productive for me as it often takes a couple of days to get in the rhythm of working in the studio.

I usually have between ten and twenty pieces in progress at any given time and I have worked that way for many years. Because I am working on panels with encaustic painting, I make a point of keeping a stockpile of panels ready, so when I am in the flow of working, I can paint, and keep painting without interruption. I keep sketchbooks and journals, often too many and with little organization, but I've done this since I was a teenager and I find them important to my documentation information and preparing titles. Ideas for my work come from various sources with a heavy emphasis on nature, but I am also strongly influenced by advertising and popular culture, art history, and reading. I currently have a series of image-based works that parallel the natural abstract series. Both bodies of work influence the other, but the content and intention of each is separate.

Trace .041 - Encaustic on panel.

Question: What, if any, role does technology play in your work?

Jane: I am guessing you specifically mean digital technology, and that has played a large part in my work. I have become fairly proficient over the years using digital technology and teaching courses in the discipline. In the mid 1980's I began using the computer to manipulate scanned images, (that seemed like magic at the time), and later I was doing a body of work I called "digital drawings" that were a blend of photography, drawing in the computer, digital manipulation, and actual mark-making on the printed image. Though they were called digital drawings, they looked like graphite drawings and seemed to be anything but the slick images most associated with the computer. Exactly the effect I wanted to achieve. I still use that digital process today with the encaustic series of image-based works and occasionally with the abstract series. I like being in control of the images I use. I can create or capture an image I have in mind, and then I have the tools to develop or manipulate the image for a personal and original application in my work. I have used found images from time to time, but I most often prefer to create my own.

Trace .034 - Encaustic on panel.

Question: Imagine your "dream show." You get to select the artists (living or dead) whose work will be included along with your own in a specatacular exhibition. Who would they be?

Jane: OMG, this is tooo good. The following would be in my show because I have been so influenced by their work -- no particular order:

Eve Hesse
Richard Diebenkorn
Wayne Thiebaud
Magdalena Abakanowicz
Artemesia Gentileschi
Robert Rauschenberg
Martin Puryear
Jim Dine
Nancy Grossman
Toulouse Lautrec
Chuck Close
Louise Bourgeois
Dorthea Rockburne
Anni Albers
Diane Arbus
Kathe Kollwitz
Barbara Kruger
Maya Yin Lin
Louise Nevelson
Jackie Winsor
Henri Matisse
Constantine Brancusi
Lee Bontecou

This is a tiny selection but I think it represents artists and works that have been significant for me, and it gives an overview of my influences.

Trace .042 - Encaustic on panel.

Question: You have always been an extremely productive artist. How do you balance your studio time with your responsibilities as a teacher, wife and mother?

Jane: WOW. I answered all the other questions right away as the information flowed through my head, and now I will have to organize my thoughts for this final answer.

I am married and I do have a son, now 23 years old. Balancing the duties and commitments of having a family with being a productive artist has had its challenges. There is no map or guide for this journey, and I really had no mentor I could look to for answers on this issue. Mine has been a path I forged based on perception, intuition, passion, commitment, and integrity. I have certainly made compromises in my art for my family, but I have also made compromises in my family life, for the art. At this mid-point in my career and life, I do believe I have been able to manage these effectively, since I am still married to the same person and my son is fun loving, well adjusted, and preparing to graduate from college.

When I finished graduate school, and before I married, the first issue was to set up a studio and continue a regular working schedule similar to what I followed in the grad program. I taught part-time and worked in the studio on a regular basis like any job. Marriage did not affect that working schedule but having a child did. For the first time in my life I did not have long, continuous periods of time to do as I needed or as I pleased. That was difficult, to adjust to what I call a fragmented or mosaic schedule. I had to work in short periods or blocks of time, and there was always the anxiety and potential for interruption. There are years in my professional resume that show little productivity, and that was due to commitments around family life and raising a child. Overall it was important for me to keep my art vision sited to a point on the horizon, and to know at some point I would again be moving forward toward that location. The biggest step in that forward move came when my son began to drive and I was suddenly gifted with larger blocks of time. It was during this period I was able to direct more focus and energy back to my art. I should also point out that during my academic career I have had to sacrifice for both family and making art. Fortunately I have reached a point where I am able to enjoy family, focus on making art, and am productive in teaching.

Trace .048 - Encaustic on panel.

You can see more of Jane's work at


  1. Great interview, wonderfully candid and insightful responses, terrific list of dream artists!! and beautiful artowork. Thanks for sharing Jane with us!

  2. Wonderful interview, thanks for posting it. Her encaustic work is haunting, I really love it. I've played with encaustics in the most basic ways and always loved doing it, but something always pulled me away and I never wound up doing much with it.

  3. Thanks for posting this interview. I met Jane at the encaustic conference in Beverly this year and was impressed with her humor, intelligence, candor and commitment to making art. I loved both her list of influences and her work.

    I'm adding myself to your list of followers!

  4. Thanks for that interview. I have known Jane's work for a long time and have always looked forward to the next permutation. The encaustic work with its monochromatic feel has very strong scientific references for me. The mark-making is intriguing and really controls the impression of the images. Bravo to Jane! What a dedicated artist, teacher and mother.

  5. Thanks to all for reading the interview and your comments. Thanks to Terry, long time friend, for featuring me. I enjoyed doing this!!

  6. Thanks Terry. I enjoyed reading about Jane and her work. I am envisioning her dream show of artists. I can't wait to come to the opening...

  7. Fabulous interview and Jane's art is beautiful. Thanks for posting this Terry.

  8. Thank you Leslie and Ian! I have know Jane for many years and she has been one of the most consistently productive and creative artists I know. I appreciate your comments and support for the work that is presented in this blog.