Jan Schmidlin Gill’s time as an artist started with a doodle of Bambi.
As a 12-year-old girl, she was drawing in a notebook when her art teacher took notice. The woman offered to give her private lessons after school to develop what she saw as a promising skill.
“She said, ‘You have some talent, you just need to develop it,’” Gill said. “I took lessons in her basement, for an $1 an hour. It was so much fun.”
Her career has since blossomed and expanded. The Indianapolis resident has been painting ever since, working mostly in oil though dabbling in watercolor as well.
Gill’s work is featured this month at the Southside Art League gallery, 299 E. Broadway. It will be on display through June 28. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. A reception will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.
Why is art something you’ve been drawn to?
When you can help someone relive that memory of a certain place, it’s a good feeling. Artists have that talent, and it brings joy to the artist and the person receiving it.
Why was art something that you kept working at?
It’s tough. Many artists don’t get to pursue it until after they retire. For me to have started at a young age, and gradually learned, I’ve been blessed.
How do you find the subjects of what you paint?
We have two sons in the U.S. Navy, so it’s given us an opportunity to travel and see different places. I like to paint scenes from where I’ve been, or people give me photographs from where they’ve been, and I paint that.
What are some of your favorite scenes that you’ve done?
The Grand Canyon, that really came out a good one. Some water scenes from South Carolina — fishing boats and everything on the water. Coastal scenes.
How do you try to capture the atmosphere and tone of what you’re seeing?
It’s whatever you see. As you learn the basics for painting, you need to ask where the light source is coming from. But even the dark scenes, in the glow of the moon, it might not give you the perfect elements for a good painting.
What is a scene you’d want to paint in the future?
I’ve love to go to Yosemite. I’ve never been there, but I’d love to paint it.
Why is oil painting ideal for you?
It’s more forgiving. You can correct mistakes, you can add more lightness or darkness depending on how thick the paint is on it. With watercolor, you have to be careful not to do too much to it and wash it out.
How have you benefited from joining the Southside Art League?
I’m so thankful that the Southside Art League is here to offer these classes. Otherwise, you’d have to drive up to the northside. I’ve studied with Ron Mack for 15, 20 years. I like the way his style and my style mesh. We’re very fortunate to have this down here.