Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Janet Hamlin

Janet Hamlin, Figurative Illustrator

Janet Hamlin is a figurative artist and illustrator with very strong powers of observation and empathy. I admire her skill and the clarity with which she sees and 'gets' her subjects. Janet is able to get right in there with the subtle postures and features that make a person who they are.
I love the sketch atop this entry, because it is so active in line, and so much about her act of seeing as translated through her hand and onto the page. This kind of sketch shows the fundamental skill which is the basis for her ability to then produce a more developed representation of someone in all of their complexity, like Woody Allen. I love this portrait Janet drew of Woody Allen, because she was able to capture both his physical and spiritual appearances, attached to which are the confidence and ease of her drawing ability.

Janet has illustrated for the Associated Press for many years, has drawn many books for children and grown-ups, and most recently and famously, has found a niche drawing in high-profile courtrooms. It was Janet who was sent to Guantanamo Bay several times this year to draw the 9/11 trials. There, under tremendous pressure, she was able to witness and capture the courtroom scenes. And it was she who so open-mindedly went back to correct an infamous nose. You can read about it in the New Yorker Talk of the Town

Janet teaches figure drawing classes at Edward Hopper's boyhood home, Hopper House, where she has been leading
her students to higher planes of observational and drawing achievement.
I know Janet as family and friend, and have come to be a big fan of her daughter Nancy's artwork, as well. Here are a few Nancy Hamlin Ryan treasures to enjoy:

Two portraits of important people in her life

A piece inspired from learning about The Day of the Dead

And my favorite... Germ School!