Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ray Jansma-My Friend and Mentor


My mentor and good friend is gone.   Ray Jansma passed away Feb 19.  He will be missed by many including me.



Photo 1-Ray and I finishing up the clay sculpture for the Fremont Area Community Library (around 2001)
Photo 2-Ray with Ray (my first sculpture made out at Ray's studio 1994-1995)

The best decision I ever made for my artistic development was to take Ray up on the invitation to come work out at his studio. When I first starting making artwork at Ray’s, I was under the delusion that I was going to be a painter. After some so-so attempts at watercolor and oil painting, Ray asked if I wanted to try to make a sculpture. And once again did a smart thing and said “yes” to Ray.

For my first sculpture, we each worked on a life-size portrait of each other in clay, made plaster molds, and then made a plaster casting from the mold. And all at once I found out that the 3-D art world is where it is at for me. For years Ray gave me space to work in his studio, which any artist knows is a very kind and selfless thing to do for a beginning artist. He also involved me in public sculpture commissions and put into my head the idea of making art for a living.

Working out of Ray’s studio was like this:
We talked about art
We made our own art
We admired other people’s art
We admired each others art (and Ray helped me out when I was struggling with artistic dilemmas)
We listened to classical music
We looked out at the deer in the field
And we became really great friends.

Sometimes, for a change of pace, we would go out in Ray’s truck and draw old buildings and barns. Then come back to the studio and look at them and work on them some more. It was like heaven on earth for both of us.

Ray and Phyllis welcomed me into their lives with open arms. And Ray welcoming me into his studio is the most generous gift I could ever have hoped to receive.


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