I consider it fortunate that I grew up in an artistic family. My Grandmother loved to experiment with all types of arts and crafts, so I would get to learn and do while she worked on her latest projects. She tried everything from Oils, pastels, watercolor, ceramics, weaving, and anything else that was available. It never occurred to me that there were limits, so artistically I never had any.
I minored in art in school, but the real world of work did not allow me the opportunity to use what I learned. Later I ran my own Sign Business, while graphic in nature; I did get to use some of my skills. Mostly the business became more about software and installations, so after 25 years I sold the business and moved to Arizona.
While living in California, my neighbor introduced me to the wonderful world of Gourds. She and her husband taught me the correct way of handling gourds, which requires good safety equipment for health reasons. The dust and mold spores from the gourd cutting and cleaning can be very hazardous. I never work inside without a ventilation system on.
The wonderful thing about a gourd is it that takes to almost any medium in decorating, carving, cutting, painting, staining or just sanding and polishing. The gourd will literally speak to you about what it wants to be. If I ignore that, the results are usually not pleasing. If I listen to the gourd, I usually end up with something that I really like.
In California, I worked mostly for decorators and on consignment for interior designers, which worked perfectly in my time frame. I was able to create some very different styles, from Southwest to Arts & Crafts for the different homes that my gourds were used in. I never had the opportunity to show my work to the public until I moved to Arizona.
For the past several years I have been able to take classes and work with some of the top Artists in the field, and have learned so much about using the tools that are required in carving and cutting. I had worked on a number of pieces, when I decided that one or two might be good enough to enter into a show. I did not have the expectation of winning; I wanted to be critiqued by the judges to see where I was and if I was on the right track. It’s very hard to get a report card in this field, so I was very surprised to walk away with a blue ribbon in my first show.
Currently I am showing in High Country Gallery and The Pinetop Contemporary Fine Art Gallery. I also teach and am available for classes. Contact me: Jan van Dierendonck @ 928-536-3415, or firstname.lastname@example.org for information about classes or gourds in general.
Jan is the current President of the Northeastern Arizona Fine Arts Association.