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Artist Name

Jan Sullivan Fowler

Born: 1953

Hometown: Elm Grove

Based in: South Milwaukee

Jan Sullivan Fowler is a contemporary Artist working in Japanese handmade Washi paper and acrylics to create paintings with a unique flowing form. JSF Studios exemplifies "Life as Art".
"Washi" paper… wa-meaning Japanese and, shi-meaning paper.

The Village of Elm Grove, Wisconsin was the perfect place for Jan to grow up making art with her Mother (Kay Sullivan).
In the 70's when she received her degree in Fine Art from the Milwaukee School of Art, her Mother was discovering a new form of expression, the very refined Japanese handmade Washi papers, painted and hand printed with acrylics to create what has been described as "a new genre of abstract/modern".
Combining the clear ethereal with the contemplative aspects that provide a unifying and calming tranquility. The natural fibers from the "Washi" give a depth and texture, creating a visually floating effect, unachievable without.

Using color mixing techniques originating back centuries, Jan uses a strong soft color palette as a pretext to the flowing imagery in her work.
Through the 70's, 80's, and 90's Jan and her mother worked in collaboration and exhibited in all the largest shows and exhibitions, with one of their diptychs actually being placed in the Tom Cruise movie "Risky Business"!
Jan now focuses on a larger format of paintings, while continuing the flowing, floating visual effects trademarked in her artwork with Japanese handmade Washi paper.

About Washi paper;
Japan was introduced to paper making in the 7th Century. Since, they have taken it to an Art form.
Jan's Artwork honors the Traditional and promotes the sustainability of the Region's Lifestyle of those wonderful people that have been creating Washi for over 20 Generations!

Satoyama – 'Living in Harmony with Nature'
In the Legend, The Paper deity (Kawakami Gozen) advised the residents, when farmland was scarce, to use their clean and pure water to make paper.
They thanked the Goddess for this and built a Shrine to venerate her called the Okamoto Shrine on the Okamoto River.
At one time, reserved for only the most privileged, Washi became available for all in the post-war years.

"Washi Spirit''
Man is the river, Man is the rain. Man is the wave.
Water is the medium.
And Washi is the water's spirit.
It's first secret is awakening.
All life comes from water. So the Washi does.
It's second secret is relieving.
Born floating in the water, Washi transmits weightlessness.
It's third secret is soothing.
Moving with the water's flow, the fibers gather naturally in the most harmonic way.
It's fourth secret is reminding.
Slowly built up by the movement, it's structure is the memory of the time passed for it's making.
It's fifth secret is enlightening.
Light moves through the fibers until it is released according to the Washi's structure in never ending ways.'

Jan wants to share these secrets and provide people with the awakening, relieving, soothing, reminding, and enlightening presence of Washi in their Homes and Lives.


Jan Sullivan Fowler In The Studio

My studio is an ever-changing whirlwind of summits of different Washi paper mounds painted and not.

main image

More About Jan Sullivan Fowler

Question IconWhat inspires you?

Japanese handmade Washi paper has an aura and quite honestly a real desire to perform in so many new and completely unique ways. From Washi with gold and silver leaf embedded or Gossamer thin and weightless, the refined and sophistication is always inspiring to create with.

Question IconDescribe your creative process.

Alot of times the entire process begins with the initial painting and hand printing of the Japanese handmade Washi paper with acrylics. The different colors playing off of the abstract imagery of the acrylics allows my mind's eye to envision the most suitable and applicable pieces for each painting.

Question IconWhat are 3 words that best describe your work?

Visually weightless, Sophisticated, Soothing

Question IconWho are some artists that have influenced your work?

Kay Sullivan (my mother), Monet

Question IconWhat is the most important tool when creating your work?

Over the years I've developed several completely unique ways to mix colors and paint the Washi paper

Question IconWhat is the best piece of advice you have been given?

"Everyone must Ferret out their own way".

Question IconWhere do you go for inspiration?

I live on the Oak Creek that flows into the Great Lake Michigan so, I walk and ride my bike in the woods and on the beach for some solitude and creative reflection.

Collections Featuring Jan Sullivan Fowler

1 Collection

Art Pieces That Capture the Spirit of the Season

Art Pieces That Capture the Spirit of the Season

52 Artists, 65 Products

Last updated: November 22, 2023

Articles Featuring Jan Sullivan Fowler

1 Article