The last time we spoke to plein-air oil painter Janet Triplett, she was part of a summertime show, “Sea Dreams,” at New Elements Gallery with Angie Sinclair. The show saw Triplett eschewing her normal portraiture and still-life works in favor of landscapes. It’s a transcendence of mood, a peaceful place for Triplett to explore. Her works depicting water, from sea to marsh, are an extension of her surroundings at home on Bald Head Island. She continues painting from this inspiration in her solo show, “Wide Open,” at New Elements. It’s now on display as part of a virtual exhibition for the gallery, since its downtown location is closed due to COVID-19.
“This is our first online exhibition,” gallery owner Miriam Oehrlein says. “We are really learning a lot—from programs that are available to make these art shows, to how to promote more online. It was serendipitous how the whole show came together. Janet was supposed to have a show at Century 21 for the March Fourth Friday, so she had brought all of her new work and intellectual property the day before we closed the shop.”
At that time Oehrlein realized the business had to change—away from depending on in-person customers and more toward beefing up their web presence and screen-time interaction. “Janet’s work, which is a dreamy mix of sunsets and beach scenes, is exactly the kind of subject matter we want to deliver to everyone right now,” Oehrlein continues. “Her work has a serene quality, which really fit for the mood we wanted to create. Not to mention, her big, beautiful skies really transport the viewer outside—something I think we all need right now. A world beyond four walls.”
We interviewed Triplett and Oehrlein about “Wide Open.”
encore (e): So, Janet, tell me about your transition from being a corporate designer, to owning a decorative painting business, to now being a full-time painter: How did each career inform the next, and what do you find your current career offers you that the last ones did not?
Janet Triplett (JT): The three careers I’ve had are all based in one form or another on artistic creativity. While designing for Wachovia Bank, I also curated their extensive art collection. My goal as part of that job was to acquire primarily North Carolina and regional original works.
The decorative painting business allowed me to actually get back to my original love of painting but was definitely still part of interior design. The freedom I have now to paint paintings of subjects that I love does offer a different kind of joy.
e: The last time we spoke, you were doing a show with Angie Sinclair, as part of the summertime series. Is “Wide Open” an extension of that?
JT: The last show I had at New Elements with Angie Sinclair included the same genre of work that is in the current “Wide Open” show.
Miriam Oehrlein (MO): Janet typically focuses on landscapes for us, although she does do still lifes and pet portraits. “Wide Open” is a continuation of the landscapes she likes to paint!
e: So, Miriam, what do you love about Janet’s work? How many shows has NE repped for her?
MO: Janet’s work borders on fantastical, her dream-like quality really capturing the attention of any viewer. Her color palette further simulates an enchanting story arc, whether that be about a sunrise, sunset or hazy afternoon. Her work has the ability to totally transform a room from blah to spectacular and often acts as the centerpiece in many of the homes she hangs in. Janet is pretty great, too!
e: Take me through the process of creating one of your works, from beginning to end.
JT: Many of my paintings begin as a plein air study, [or with] photographs of the scenes that emotionally move me. These are usually guides, as many times the final painting doesn’t look like my inspirational scene at all.
e: Tell me how you hope viewers see or contextualize the piece.
JT: My goal with my work is for the viewer to feel some of the emotion I felt while I painted the piece. If my painting brings them joy, solace or tranquility I feel that the piece is a success.
e: Why do you love plein air painting?
JT: Well, it is painting from life, which I’ve done with my still life work and also [with] live models. When I paint from life, I’m able to see subtle colors and shapes more accurately than [when I use] only a photograph. Experience in painting from life provides the ability see what is missing or disguised in a photo.
e: Do you have a fave from this series?
JT: Well, probably “Morning Mediation” and “Evening Jubilee,” because I love the marsh in the morning as well as the evening and the way the water and the grass areas meander through the marsh.
e: How has COVID-19 affected you as an artist? Are you producing any new work from it?
JT: I am used to and enjoy painting alone, so having to stay in place during this current health crisis hasn’t hindered the joy I get when escaping to the studio!
e: What’s next for you this year? Any other shows planned, new techniques/goals, etc.?
JT: No new shows scheduled at this point. Two other galleries are ready for more work so that will keep me busy.
e: Miriam, give us an idea of how you wish people to enjoy the online show.
MO: We knew we wanted an exhibition evocative of an intellectual and tranquil experience right from home. People are feeling alone at this time. The idea that multiple friends and family members can get together separately, go through the exhibition, and have a nice glass of wine over a Skype chat of what they see seemed like a good way to break up the monotony of quarantine.