Janis Porter Marckstein, a Texas native, explores a wide range of emotions and attitudes in paintings that reflect life’s simplicity and complexity, while celebrating its joy and occasionally lamenting its sorrows. She begins her paintings using photo-realism techniques and then suddenly departs from them in unexpected ways. Her recent work, for example, includes larger-than-life studies of simple objects that offer viewers the opportunity to perceive strength in a workman’s glove and experience life in a bucket. She also selects certain studies to transform into abstract paintings. Moving from the perceptual to the conceptual, the artist exposes viewers to the beauty in a dab of rust and helps them discover truth in the curve of a pumpkin.
A natural realist whose art education took place during the heyday of abstract expressionism, Marckstein was warned upon graduation that the worst thing she could do as an artist would be to “go to Austin, Texas, and paint bluebonnets.” So that’s exactly what she did. Then, with a passion for still life, she spent four years in the studio tirelessly honing her technique. Soon galleries began to seek her out. Today, her work offers an enticing surface abstraction when viewed up close, along with a distinctly realist image from farther back. While her painting begins with an 8-by-10 photo for reference, shortly in the process, she explains, Marckstein abandons the photo and goes “off on my own path, my own little adventure.”