Published in the North Island Eagle, March 8, 2019
By Trish Weatherall
Sointula artist and author Jan Rosgen believes everyone can be an artist and that it’s important that we do.
“People don’t realize they are artists. But you already know what colours you like and what subject matter and themes. You just have to get at it – just start.”
In her book, “You ARE an Artist! – Trusting your Indwelling Creative Mysticism”, she encourages people who don’t consider themselves artists to try art for the process as much as for a final product.
“Creating art benefits our physical health by strengthening our immune systems and also our mental/emotional/spiritual health through allowing expression,” she says. “During my childhood growing up on a secluded Alberta farm I was alone a lot (which was great for following creativity) but there were a lot of frustrating and bewildering experiences I had to try to figure out all on my own as there was no one to turn to. But I drew. I was able to express a lot through art that I wasn’t able to talk to anyone about.”
A lifetime artist, Rosgen has been an art instructor, book illustrator and cover artist, art society CEO, and became a Solution Focused Coach via Vancouver’s Erickson College. She is also a classical pianist, writer, poet, web designer, business graphics designer, wife, mother and grandmother.
The idea for the book came out of an art workshop she was leading in 2003 and all the preparation that went into it. “I realized that I had enough material for a book and I felt a real need to do this.”
It was about 7 years until she finished the first edition, but she knew she was on the right track with her book during the editing process: “My volunteer editor was inspired to close the book and start painting and never got back to the book! I ended up editing it myself. But I considered that to be evidence of the success of the book’s purpose!”
The book jacket says, “‘You ARE an Artist!’ leads you in—to yourself and to your innate knowing—to discover or reaffirm that you have always possessed all you’ve ever needed to follow your desires to create meaningful art that can touch the world with its power. The beautiful energy you put into your paintings is very much needed by this world.”
The 115-page book offers inspiration, colorful visual examples, guidelines for creating your own art and recognizing how to tap into your inner knowledge of aesthetics, color, and meaning.
It first explores “the lies we tell ourselves about creating art” (that we are not talented or skilled or creative enough). Then it guides the reader through some suggested processes for creating art using her photos and art work to explain visually what is being discussed in the text.
Topics are arranged according to Logical Levels, the seven levels of exploring a situation according to our construction as human beings: environment, behaviour, capability or competence, beliefs, identity and spirituality. These levels are often used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Rosgen uses them to help the reader discover how to pursue art in their own way.
“Because of the 7-levels structure of it, the book taps into every part of us, even though this may not be realized consciously by the reader,” she says. “Our intellect leads us astray. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like you think art should. Even abstract art doesn’t have to mean anything, it might just be the flow of colours that are beautiful to you.”
She helps potential artists answer the questions they have about creating art including:
- Why? The value of self-expression, telling our stories, and personal benefits.
- What? How to choose your subject, finding focus, gathering information.
- How? How to choose your media, colours, with technical samples.
- Who? Delves into self-discovery, personal metaphor, and includes soul activity.
- Who else? Discusses who your art affects or influence, is it a gift?
Rosgen says people have used her book in working with elderly groups or in high school art classes. “This is very rewarding to me, that people are using the book and sharing it with others to enrich the experience of creating art.”
Rosgen moved to Sointula from Surrey in 2007 and appreciates the peace and quiet and time to focus on her art and to share it with the community.
“Sointula is a paradise that provides so much material – the ocean, mountains, and trees. Things I didn’t have access to growing up in Alberta. I take a lot of photos which all my art is based on.”
Every year she donates one of her original paintings to A.J. Elliot Elementary School in Sointula for their Loonie Auction fundraiser. “Being able to support the community in this way is another joy for me.”
Helping to spread her message that we are all artists, she also donated the book to the Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society’s Ultimate North Island Book list prize package.
Now in her 70s, Rosgen still has artwork from her childhood. “My pictures started just like everyone else’s. But if you put in your time, you get better at it.”
Jan Rosgen welcomes visitors to her home studio at 245 4th Street in Sointula to view or purchase her art or book. “Anytime after 11 a.m., after my morning coffee!” Or visit her web site at www.janrosgen.com