Artist Spotlight Series: Jan Lukens
I popped one of my favorite Charleston galleries, Dog and Horse Fine Art, to the new work while at the beach a few weeks ago. I was immediately taken by the show “The Power of the Equine” by Jan Lukens. I reached out to share the work of this North Carolina talent. As a horse lover, I could not resist. As always,the work in person is so much more beautiful than it is even here.
Greensboro, North Carolina
What is your training?
I studied two years full time at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and a year full time at the National Academy of Design in NYC. I also copied Velazquez paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and studied privately with Burton Silverman and Hollis Dunlap.
What inspires you and your designs?
I seek images I love with my camera, then translate them into paintings, frequently using several photos as reference for a single painting. An exhibition curator once described my paintings as ‘loose photorealism’, perhaps because I attempt to convey the realism of a photo and also let my brushstrokes show the process.
My inspirations vary from the natural beauty of horses to the dark, gritty beauty of urban life.
What is your favorite piece?
A painting that I did in the last few months is probably the one I would most want to live with if I had to pick one. It’s called ‘Wind Dancer’, and the 48×60” oil on canvas painting was a portrait commission from a very nice family in Wellington, Florida.
How has your area influenced your work?
When I decided to paint horses for a living back in 1992, Mrs. Parker Minchin gave me the opportunity to photograph the horses at her Greensboro farm, so that I could begin a portfolio of equine paintings. She also encouraged me to market myself to the show jumping community. Several local equestrians were my first clients for equine portrait commissions. Once I began traveling and exhibiting at horse shows, my influences and clients came from all over the country and beyond.
What is your favorite restaurant in (your city)?
Sorry, I can’t just give you one.
Southern cuisine – Lucky 32’s,
Seafood – Reel Seafood,
Mexican – El Camino Real,
Vietnamese – Van Loi,
Thai – Taste of Thai
What is your favorite cocktail?
I don’t drink liquor often, but I love an ice cold Stella Artois, or a glass of dry red wine with dinner, depending on the meal.
How do you balance personal life and work?
I have found that I gravitate towards people who either create art, or have a sincere appreciation for those who do. They understand why I revolve my life around my art. Most of my friends are either artists, writers, musicians, or art collectors. Most of my personal trips are working vacations that involve photo sessions for painting reference, and visits to galleries and museums. It is a blessing to passionately love your work.
For decades, it was a slow tour (solo or with one other person) of the great art museums of Europe, starting in Scandinavia and ending in Greece. Now, I might be torn between that and an extensive visit to southern Asia, particularly India and Thailand.
Either Bo Derek wants me to paint her Andalusians,
or a sheik in Dubai wants me to paint all his racehorses.
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?
A very nice bottle of wine.
Who is your style icon?
Anyone who stays in shape, well groomed, wears fashionable, age appropriate clothes (preferably lots of black), and is happy and healthy.
Your favorite up and coming artist?
What is your most treasured possession?
My art book collection.
What are you reading?
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
What are you listening to?
Radiohead, Wilco, Neil Young, Decemberists, & Miles Davis
Favorite Blogs / Publications?
Art News, Art in America, Dwell
Here are a few of my favorite equine beauties…
Be sure to see all Jan’s paintings on his site and check out his show at Dog and Horse Fine Art in Charleston.
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