Jane Norling is a Oakland painter who for forty years has merged fine art with design to create imagery that advocates a point of view. As muralist and graphic designer she creates messaging imagery for community/social action efforts, working for fairness for the majority of people.
Since 2000, she began searching for her own take on the world, consistently finding her deepest joy interpreting places of natural beauty experienced firsthand, inspired by the glaciers, river canyons, forests, shores, mountain slopes lying just beyond city life.
Jane explores ideas about climate change, human impact on earth and freshwater scarcity through paintings that use the beauty of paint to reach viewers’ awareness. Solo exhibition “Shaped by Water” (EBMUD 2007) expresses the visual relationship of water to land; “Cappadocia Ex/Interiors” (Road Trip 2008) interprets inhabited land formations in Turkey. A 2009 Morris Graves Residency extends series work.
Jane Norling grew up outside Washington DC, Boston and New York, graduated from Bennington College in painting & graphic arts, designed books at Random House, and in 1970, joined San Francisco activists working to end war and build collective, art-filled communities. She was active in the Bay Area mural movement, publishing/print collective Peoples Press and community & city arts organizations supported by the extensive cultural mix that was SF in the ‘70’s. She has a painting studio in Oakland and design studio in Berkeley.
I paint the experience of landscape, from having been there, struck by beauty. My painting is about the moment of awareness when the natural environment enters one's body via the senses and brings a halt to the doing, in order to receive. Viewers feel their own experience in the natural world as they respond to interpretations of vast sudden beauty in my deeply-layered oil/graphite paintings.
I paint what I think I see, from what I feel. I thrill to color shapes over water, ice recombining after melt, land formations complex and serene, ridge edge of sky, summer green, river widening through rock, how a valley opens up the higher the slope you climb.
After years of making representational art in the form of graphic illustration, murals, portraiture and studio painting, I’ve found landscape painting my home within the current of social justice which is the passion of my life. I’m interested in how the wordless beauty of paint can express the fundamental connection of our human existence to our natural home.
My process is this: I go on long hikes, snapping photos of compositions that take my breath away. In my studio, I make selections to build paintings. With my photos as occasional reference, I bring in the energy I found out there, composing in graphite, layering saturated color and translucent whites with crazy drawing in a mixture of resin and wax over weeks of application, arriving at a balance of dynamic and quiet.
As I work, some paintings wander off toward sheer abstraction while most retain reference to landscape. Some paintings bear discernible reference to my place of inspiration, giving viewers feelings of familiarity with that location.
Revisiting paintings in my studio during creation allows me to immerse myself again in the outdoor places that entered my heart, a great joy. Over time, the joy becomes part of each painting.
My hope is that joy in the natural world is part of everyone’s experience, and that delight in the painted surface lives on.