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Meet Trailblazer Deonna Janone

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deonna Janone.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Deonna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Sure! I was a creative child, and in my growing up years, I frequently wrote stories, songs, poems, and really thought about going into interior design in college because I loved building forts, creating ‘home’ places and making them beautiful. However, interior design isn’t the path I ultimately chose, I did a lot of creative work with the written word. My journey as a painter really began in motherhood. I felt like a switch turned a light on inside me when I first picked up a paintbrush. I was completing my graduate degree at GSU, working a full-time teaching job, and expecting my first child when I first felt drawn to create by painting. It was such a strange and wonderful beginning… I would spend weekend hours in our garage mixing colors, making marks…it was great.

In the thirteen years since then, I haven’t stopped! Some seasons have been more productive than others – of course – but my studio practice has remained. I gradually shifted from painting smaller paper pieces and selling on Etsy almost ten years ago, to applying and placing work in several shows around the Southeast. My work is in private collections all around the United States. I have spent most of the last eighteen months painting and self-releasing work from the three bodies of work that have evolved over the years.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One thing I have learned over the years is to be flexible in my expectations. Nothing new I suppose – but use what you have been given to your advantage! I decided when my oldest (now twelve) was a baby that I had a choice. I could CHOOSE to flip what the culture around me perceived as obstacles into meaningful and rewarding work. I see so many artists making the same choice with differing circumstances, and it never ceases to encourage my heart that those decisions are the small hinges upon which a rewarding lifelong career turn.

Reframe your circumstances – get creative with ways your limitations can actually fuel your work!
Find a sustainable pace of work for you – don’t buy into other people’s definitions of success.
Embrace the fact that anything worth having requires lots of unglamorous work that no one besides you will ever see.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I mentioned earlier that I have three distinct bodies of work that I have been adding to over the years.

The one that came about first, was my COLLAGE paintings. I have always loved working with painted paper and mixed media to create abstract images, and landscapes – and several years ago I began to select my favorite collages and then create a painting of the collage. I love this series so much because of the interdisciplinary nature. Also, as an abstract painter, I don’t frequently get the giddy sensation of accurately representing a specific image – so it is really fun for me.

PAINTED LITERATURE is what I like to call a visual library. These paintings combine two things that I value tremendously. I begin by reading some of my favorite works of literature (I chaired a high school English department in a past life), I make notes of what stands out to me in a specific story and then work to layer my observations in a painting that gives tribute to the beautiful writing of the author. I included images of my paintings for Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” and Willa Cather’s “My Antonia” here – let me know what you think! I am currently working on painting Robert Penn Warren’s “All The King’s Men” – and I am beginning a series on paper for the first time in this #paintedliterature series – using Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. That promises to be a quirky journey for sure! You should follow along @deonnajanone on IG.

LOOSELY HELD FLORALS came about over several years, as I played with the tension between true abstract and representational art. I love these paintings because while I may begin a piece with a specific type of flora in mind – by the end, the work has evolved to be truly an imagined botanical. This is probably my most popular series in terms of sales, and I have done wide ranges of sizes and painted on everything from traditional canvas, raw canvas, paper, drop-cloth, and possibly in the future – a mural!

I am really proud of the way that I have stuck with making work that I truly care about – not just the work that I was told I “should” be making. I think it is absolutely possible to elevate the process without sacrificing on a final product. This required learning to view myself as a creator, not a machine. Each artist’s journey is so unique, and it takes time to step into your own journey, and I feel that I am finally stepping fully into mine. I am also really proud of the way that my husband and I continually choose to support and encourage one another in our careers.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
I feel that women have all of history to draw on and learn from – and is rooted in the unique history of our gender, and humanity as a whole should greatly inform our movement going into the future.

We have the opportunity to learn from the past in ways that have never existed before – so much information literally at our fingertips for many hours of the day… it’s a great opportunity as well as a great responsibility – but, as your readers well know, women are very used to living in that tension.

Pricing:

  • Painted Literature paintings range from $300-1800
  • Loosely Held Floral paintings range from $85-1800
  • Collage paintings range from $85-500

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kayla Marshall @florameetsfaunaphoto (IG)

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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