For Severna Park artist Janice Hendra, inspiration dwells in a range of places: at the beach, in a flowerbed, or in the disposal of her kitchen sink.
“I was looking for subject matter and I was picking apart corn in the sink, and I thought, ‘I can paint that,’” she recalled. “I had other vegetables in the sink, and I decided to paint them too.”
That freedom to be spontaneous is one of the reasons that Hendra has grown to love painting during the last three years. While Hendra considers herself a novice with the brush, art has captivated her interest since adolescence. She used to create pottery, but she finds painting to be a less labor-intensive activity. “It’s not schlepping around 50 pounds of clay,” Hendra said with a laugh.
Her work has been featured locally – Benfield Gallery and St. John’s College juried shows – and regionally. A member of the Annapolis Watercolor Club and West River Artists, a group that meets in Galesville, Hendra receives plenty of constructive criticism that has helped her improve. “I tend to be very detailed, which is a problem and a good thing,” Hendra said, noting that some aesthetes prefer abstract artwork while other art aficionados are fans of detail.
“Orchid Assembly,” Hendra’s new piece depicting orange-tinted flowers, is part of the Baltimore Watercolor Society's 2016 Mid-Atlantic Regional Watercolor Exhibition at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. The exhibit, which started on June 9, runs through July 16.
That piece started like many others. With a brush in hand, Hendra interprets her surroundings and a variety of subject matter, inlcuding still life, landscapes and people. Usually the process starts by taking a photo. Then, unless she needs to enlarge the photo first, Hendra sketches a drawing and begins to paint.
Regardless of what she is painting, Hendra faces some similar obstacles in the creative process. “Normally when you paint, you paint in layers, dark to light, and you can always overlay with white or black if you choose,” she said. “With watercolor, you want to leave the white of the paper, so you want to think in reverse and paint around the white. So I think it’s more challenging. You can make a mistake and correct it with oil or acrylics, but you can’t fix a mistake as easily with watercolor.”
Hendra doesn’t like making mistakes with art any more than she did as an IT programmer who made internal websites for the General Assembly – a skill she maintains by working with a team that oversees the Maryland Federation of Art website.
Now, she’s taking her palette all over Anne Arundel County. She plans to partake in the Annapolis Watercolor Club’s Maritime Museum show in Eastport from July 11 through August 14 and a West River Artists exhibit at Woods Church from August 8 through September 11. After those shows, she hopes to keep showing in galleries in Severna Park and Annapolis, and she even uses her artistic talent to make thoughtful gifts for loved ones. For her two daughters, she recently conceived paintings that portrayed beloved items from their childhood.
While Janice Hendra may never be a household name, the artist is content to keep improving and bring joy to others in the same way that art brings joy to her. “I’m just enjoying the process,” she said.