Recently while doing research for another article I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Janine Cooper Ayres’ site http://www.j9art.com/ and I was immediately captivated by her wonderful artwork on display there. The vibrant warmth and playful humanity of her work reached out of the screen and held my interest effortlessly. Her elegant and natural talent is driven by an adventurous creative spirit and beautifully organic abilities and the results are delightful, often surprising and always a pleasure for both the eyes and the heart. Though she has developed an unmistakable and thoroughly charming style of her own Janine will also at times branch out, consider possibilities and alternative artist strategies to challenge herself to create something that amply explores what can be achieved when you put your enquiring mind to it. First and foremost her art, like much of the music I rave about on here, is creativity for creativity’s sake and as such perfect for inclusion here on Art Into Dust.
Oh I did I mention that Janine was also a touring bass player and occasional keyboard player in Let’s Active back in 1986, specifically before and during the second national tour supporting R.E.M. and later on a member of the excellent Downy Mildew? So that also makes her a perfect candidate for my "musicians who also paint series" that have appeared here on occasion. Janine’s also really smashing to talk with; keen minded, down to earth, modest, thoughtful and passionate about life and art. To know her is to bring a smile to your face. So let’s get going and find out what makes her tick shall we?
So how did you start on your creative adventure?
Janine: "I began drawing and painting when I was pretty young - about seven or eight years old. I was given a 'paint by numbers' kit of a cat and I was hooked from that point on. I have three older sisters, all of which are creative in different ways. Seeing them express themselves made me want to do the same. My parents had insisted that we all take piano lessons, which I, of course, thought was a bore at the time. I wish I could go back and really take in those lessons again. By the time I graduated from high school in northern California I knew that I just wanted to be an artist and a musician."
"I started my professional art career working at Roger Cormans' movie studio near Venice Beach. I worked for free for two days and then was hired as a 'scenic artist' at $75.00 a day. Corman was King of the "B" movies and he'd make one every three or four months as opposed to one every year or so like most production companies. It was near home and I'd ride my bike to work. When things slowed down I heard about another movie that was 'crewing up' and worked on that one for a while (I think it was Charlton Heston's last movie). I went on to work on the Oliver Stone movie "The Doors". I was hired to recreate Jim Morrison's sketches, so I'd go on to the roof of the apartment where he used to live on Venice Beach and try to summon his spirit! After that project I had found the confidence to go the production office of my favourite show at the time, The Wonder Years. I introduced myself to the Art Director and before long I was the on-call scenic artist/set decorator and this lasted for three years."
Bird In Hand
"Noche (means 'night' in Spanish) was commissioned by a couple in Venice (beach) who rescued a black cat from a shelter who loved to prowl around at night, so I called it Noche @ Noche."
"I love animals. I love how they become friends and family and get into your heart and you love them just as if they were human. Powerful connections. I've had dreams where I've been visited by departed pets which makes me believe that they have souls too... Anyway, don't mean to get too metaphysical here.I've also recently begun working on the computer, manipulating my characters in a collage sort of way. (This new endeavour is heavily inspired by an amazing fellow artist named Mick Dillingham.)" Janine has put together a youtube video (with music composed by her) of this new endeavour, E.T, Chic that you can check out in the post dierectly below this one.
Janine: "I thought I'd pass on these two photos, images of ways that I was able to actually make money using my artistic abilities. This first photo is of "Animal Planet" a live animal show at Universal Studios in Universal City, California. I worked alongside about fifteen other scenic artists and carpenters and welders too. It was a hefty project. We did most of the painting in a set shop in Glendale, then everything was moved to the stage. That's where a smaller group of us worked nights for about a month doing touch ups to the areas that were affected by the bolts and nails that were used to put the facades up. It was quite a challenge, as were so many of the jobs I had during the ten years I worked as a professional scenic artist in the film industry. I also worked for Disney and on numerous TV shows and movies. In the end, I was really burnt out by it! It's a long day - sometimes 12 or 14 hours on your feet, going up and down ladders, working on scaffolding or up high on genie lifts. At its best, it's invigorating; at its worst, it's miserable! Finally, one day I threw out all of my paint clothes (almost all my clothes were paint clothes!) and I vowed never to go back to doing it. It was almost like an abusive relationship or something! Now, I work a normal day job (although I'm hoping to get back into something more creative) and I still rent and sell my artwork to the studios from time to time. In fact, with the fall television season quickly approaching I need to get the word out that I have paintings that are a little bit "different" available to buy or lease."
"This second image is from the TV show "According to Jim" with Jim Belushi. The art director rented ten of my paintings and bought several art magnets and t-shirts from me. I made nearly a $1,000, which was a real kick!! So, it can be done. There is money to be made in art. These days it's getting more competitive with more talented and savvy artists out there. If you're not comfortable with the marketing aspect of promoting your art, then chances are the opportunities out there will go to the artist who is. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but in a way, it's do or die. Die an unknown, impoverished artist or learn the art of marketing and get by - or perhaps even get rich."
I see you’ve also kept your musical side going with a series of albums of educational music for children.
Janine: "About five years ago I asked myself the simple question of 'How many Presidents' names could I remember?' I'm embarrassed to say that I couldn't get past three of them! So, I printed out the list, picked up my guitar and wrote a song that would help me to remember them. After I wrote that song I decided to do a whole CD of songs about the Presidents and then a second CD came through about American History and a third and fourth! It's been an interesting experience not to mention I feel as though I may be helping a few students out there learn a little easier. I'm not getting rich with it, but it's been great fun."