She bicycled from Portland, OR to Portland, ME.
Rode and camped in a horse-drawn wagon, traveling from farm to farm in Ireland.
Hiked the high Sierras.
Traveled in and through Morocco, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Mexico, Canada and the United States.
And stood in the midst of an opening art reception in her honor, in Paris, France, without knowing a word of the language.
Like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, Barbara Janusz has journeyed to magical places and experienced memorable adventures. And like Dorothy, the lifetime professional painter asserts that there’s no place like home.
“I have traveled extensively during my lifetime, but there’s no doubt my heart just soars with creativity when I’m home in the Pacific Northwest,” the watercolor artist says. “It’s alive and full of life.”
Janusz’s Studio by the Lake in Hope, ID, overlooking Lake Pend Oreille, has a few advantages over Aunty Em’s farm in Kansas, and Janusz draws daily inspiration from a rock cliff sculpture, an onsite pond and waterfall, and forested, flower-bedecked grounds.
“I paint on the studio grounds feeling blessed each and every day,” Janusz says. “I can say I really do live the ‘Artist Dream.'”
Not only through her paintings — which emerge from a vision to communicate the poignant beauty of nature — does Janusz share that dream. Upon moving to Idaho from California in 1991, Janusz began teaching watercolor workshops on her two-acre parcel, setting up large tents next to the waterfall. She also hosts catered events for collectors — in her personal Garden of Eden or at the homes of collectors — showcasing her latest works.
“My new paintings are revealed at the exhibition, giving the collectors first choice to own one before they are exhibited to the public,” Janusz explains.
Janusz has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S., as well as at an invitational exhibit with four other artists at the Centre Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris where, thankfully, a personal interpreter stood at her side during the opening reception. Numerous awards include the Gold Medallion Award at the Rocky Mountain National Exhibition; the Ruth Elliot Award from Women Painters of the West; and Best of Show at the Westwood Center of the Arts, Westwood, CA. She has been affiliated with the Art Works Gallery of Sandpoint since 1995.
To Janusz, however, painting is much more than acquiring an impressive resume of exhibitions and collections hosting her work. Each painting is a visual orchestra, one incorporating chords of color and symphony of form, inviting the viewer to experience emotion and movement.
“A completed painting is a form of universal consciousness where all human experiences are somehow touched because of our own connections with nature,” Janusz says.
“When viewing the painting, there is a feeling of being a part of the cosmic order.”
The complexity of nature is mirrored in Janusz’s chosen medium, watercolor, which she describes as “rich in colors and enduring.
“The challenge of watercolor is to create a painting by using layers of color, a wide range of values and contrast, while keeping in mind the white of the paper.
“The benefits of watercolor are its beautiful luminous effects.”
When creating a body of work, Janusz selects a theme and explores it thoroughly before moving on to another, nature-related subject. She has plumbed the depths of Waterfalls, Lily Ponds, Fly Fishing, and Flowers; her series on Water Paintings, entitled Water: The Spirit of Life, included imaginary locales as well as real ones, reflecting her philosophy of painting from memory, from reference photos, and from her imagination.
What is most important in capturing the full impact of nature, Janusz believes, is being fully present with an open heart and mind, open to all possibilities.
“One stroke leads to the next: the act of painting comes out of the now.
“This openness is not by effort, but by letting go.”
It is through this letting go, this recognition that one does not know or understand all there is to know and understand, that the artist — and the viewer — come to a greater awareness of truth.
“I believe we are on this planet to learn lessons.
“One of the lessons I am learning is, it is not what I do: it’s knowing I am.
“The painting is not me; it is the love that is expressing through the painting.”
Barbara Janusz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 5 through Saturday, July 1, 2017.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.