Next, we shine the spotlight on Photographer, Jan Piller. In this interview, Jan talks about her appreciation of life itself (and its various forms) and the importance of “spirit” in artwork and photography. We also hear the touching story behind Jan’s work “Upon the Windowsill of Heaven”, and how nature once reflected a poignant time.
Welcome to “In the Mood: Spotlight”, Jan!
Tell me something about where you live…
I live in a small town in southern Ontario, Canada. This small town is surrounded by corn fields. It’s not where I belong; I was born and raised near Toronto, Ontario but my heart is in Northern Ontario with the forests and the lakes and the granite walls of pink and black.
What inspires you most to take photos?
Life inspires my photography. I love “life”. I love the process of life. And that includes all life, plants, flowers, insects, animals, humans and birds. I’m awestruck by the process of life and the continuity of it.
Can you tell me something about your “In the Mood: Featured” work?
“Upon the Windowsill of Heaven” comes from a quote (anonymous) that reads :
Every Morning, Lean thine arms awhile
Upon the Windowsill of Heaven
And gaze upon the Lord,
Then, with that vision in thy heart
Turn strong to meet the day.
This little poem/quote has been my mantra for years now. It was the inspiration for the image. The image is a picture of a tree where I used to take my best friend “Nugget” for a walk during a very dark and scary time of my life. After Nugget died, the path grew over with weeds and brush. It seemed right somehow that that would happen.
Which image in your portfolio has received the most response and what do people like most about it?
The image people like the most and that makes the most sales is in fact “Nugget”. I’m certain her spirit touches people even years after she has left this earth.
What do you enjoy most about taking photos?
What I enjoyed about taking photos was seeing the world through a tiny window. Looking through a small viewfinder forces your focus onto just one thing at a time. It’s a very meditative and mindful exercise. I haven’t taken any pictures in almost two years now. My health doesn’t allow for it and I miss it very much.
How important is photography to you?
Importance? Well life isn’t about “doing”, it’s more about “being”, so I don’t place much importance on something I can do or not do – it doesn’t define who I am.
What do you look for most in a piece of art or photography?
What I look for most in a piece of art or photography is the spirit of the moment. When there is passion and spirit behind a piece, it comes through in the piece – it can be sensed. If I can’t feel the spirit that was behind it, then it’s just another exercise in drudgery for the sake of being called an artist; as if being an “artist” is some kind of banner to be waved about. There’s a lot of ego in art today and less passion and vision. But people won’t be fooled by that. I’ve often uploaded pieces that I recognized were just drudgery and just uploaded them for ego’s sake. None of us get it right all the time.
Apart from photography, what other interests do you have?
I like to be an activist for justice – I speak out for those that can’t speak, or are too small or too weak to speak, or who don’t have a voice. There’s too much cruelty in the world and too many people are willing to turn a blind eye to it. I can’t do much – I can’t go to protests, but I can write letters to those that I think can make a difference. And I love books – good action filled entertaining books!
Do you have any advice for photographers that are just starting out?
My advice for new artists starting out is – stay humble and accept criticism. There’s nothing more annoying than a “know it all”. You don’t know it all. Nobody knows it all. And if you can’t take criticism, then you’re operating through “ego” and you’ll never produce a piece that comes from the spirit.
Thank you so much for being interviewed for “In the Mood: Spotlight”!
You can see more of Jan Piller’s work at http://jan-piller.artistwebsites.com/index.html