Heather Janzen has a knack for brushes with celebrity.
The Shuswap artist has been painting for about eight years. But it’s only been in the past year or so that her home, particularly the living room, has become a gallery of music and Hollywood icons – famous portraits of even more famous celebrities re-interpreted in oil on canvas (and wood).
Among these works are images of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash, Madonna and Al Pacino in a moment from the film Scarface.
Janzen’s penchant for portraits is, in part, a reflection of her personality and the people she admires.
“I’ve always liked Madonna. I’m a fan of hers. I’m into a little bit of shock value I think, if for the right reasons you know,” Janzen explained. “I’ve tried to get away from doing the portraits, but I always go back to them… maybe it’s because I always wanted to be a rock star.”
That said, Janzen’s body of work consists of a variety of subjects and styles, done in oil, acrylic, charcoal and chalk. She’s also tried her hand at sculpting. However, it’s the oils that have drawn some recent attention.
Janzen had a few works on show at this year’s Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club Arts and Crafts Show at Sicamous’ Red Barn. While an abstract and a large galactic scene garnered plenty of attention, it was a smaller oil portrait of Elvis that wound up leaving the building.
The painting, textured to the point of being almost thee-dimensional, sold early in the show – something Janzen is taking well, given the sacrifice involved.
“I miss that one, I just do. I get really attached,” said Janzen, laughing as she explains how her family is encouraging her to sell more of her work.
“That’s why I think I hang on to a lot of my paintings – I’ve only been painting since 2007 and I don’t know really how I do it. So I was thinking it might be a fluke, so I tend to keep hanging on to them. But, as it turns out, I keep being able to paint them so it’s more than just a fluke.”
While largely self-taught, Janzen has seen her artistic abilities broaden under the guidance of local artists Rebecca Shepherd and Lisa Figueroa. She also credits the Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club, who she plans to paint with again soon.
Janzen says she’s had offers on the Johnny Cash and others. No sale yet though. For her, painting is more a form of therapy, through a process that, despite her experience to date, is still something of a mystery.
“I really paint from my heart, and usually, when I’m painting… it doesn’t really make sense until the end, and it just kind of all pulls together for me, like in about the last five minutes of the painting. It’s kind of neat,” said Janzen.