About the Artist


In the background are partial images of three 36×48 paintings I did as a commission for the Dwight Foster Library in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

Jan Gilkey

Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

Original oil paintings on linen


Artist Statement

As I paint, I work to grow as an artist.  I don’t believe that the quality of artwork depends on whether it is representational  or abstract.  Some non-representational work is wonderful, but I would argue that it is not wonderful BECAUSE it is less realistic.

In his Nuts and Bolts CD, Artist Quang Ho asks us to imagine what Helen Keller would have seen had she suddenly gained her sight–She wouldn’t have seen the Ash trees next to the post office: she would have seen lines, shapes,  values,  colors, textures and edges.  She would have looked at the world as an artist does–seeing what Quang Ho would describe as the artistic elements.

I focus on those artistic elements. In Toward Light, for example, I’m not so much painting a waterfall as I am painting textures, hard and soft edges, and value contrasts.  In Color Song I am trying learn all I can about the colors of light in the trees.  Even in painting the animals (which are subject based), I concentrate on texture and on the shapes of light and dark.  

First, I cover a linen canvas or a wooden cradle with a warm ground color. Then I work out a composition beginning with a few large shapes. Though I often use photographs for information (always my own photos), I won’t do a painting of a photograph. My animal paintings are always founded in part on direct observation. I don’t transfer images, but draw directly on the canvas with a paintbrush or hard charcoal. I never use a projector or a graph, but concentrate instead on freehand drawing because I feel drawing is essential to learning the subject well enough to paint it decisively. I use most, if not all, of my palette colors in the sky and then apply those colors to land and water. I try to make the brushstrokes and the build-up of paint important aspects of my work. Unfortunately, the brushwork is lost in the website images.

I feel the work is successful if solid drawing, specific shapes, strong value arrangement, color harmony,  varied textures and sensitive edge work combine to create an intriguing composition.

All of my works are originals. I don’t do reproductions except in personal cards. I paint correctly–fat over lean–and use archival materials so that my works will be durable. I use linen or wooden supports and high quality paints made by Utrecht, Gamblin and Old Holland.



2017 schedule


Dubuque Fest, Dubuque, Iowa — May 20-May 21

Art Fair Off the Square, Madison, Wisconsin — July 8-July 9

Wilhelm Tell Festival Art in the Park, New Glarus, Wisconsin — September 3

Wausau Festival of the Arts, Wausau, Wisconsin — September 9-September 10

Greenwich Village Art Fair, Rockford, Illinois — September 16 – September 17

Black Hawk Artist Show and Sale, Hoard Historical Museum,Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin — Nov. 5 – Nov. 17

Winter Art Fair Off the Square, Madison, Wi. — Nov. 12 -13



The University of Wisconsin, Whitewater gave me a solo show in their elegant Roberta Art Gallery, University Center which ran throughout October, 2016.

I was honored to be the Featured Artist at the 2016 Wilhelm Tell Festival Art in the Park.

First Place, Professional, Mary Hoard Art Show, Hoard Historical Museum, Fort Atkinson, WI, 2016.

Exhibited life drawing studies at the UW-Whitewater gallery in a show titled Direct Observation  2016

First Place, four consecutive years, Historical, Mary Hoard Art Show, Hoard Historical Museum, Fort Atkinson, WI.

Public Commission, 3 paintings, Dwight Foster Memorial Library, Fort Atkinson, WI.

Purchase Award, Edge of the Rock Plein Air Competition, Beloit, WI, 2010.

Award of Distinction, Edge of the Rock Plein Air Competition, Beloit, WI, 2011.

Award of Excellence, Marshfield Art Show, Marshfield, WI, 2011.

Award Wasuau Festival of the Arts, Wausau, WI, 2011.

Solo Exhibition, Hedberg Library, Janesville, WI.

Solo Exhibition, Alexander House, Wisconsin Rapids, WI.

Solo Exhibition, Middleton Library, Middleton, WI, January 2013.

Permanent Collection, Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, Nebraska.

Group Exhibition, ‘Watercolor Wisconsin,’ Racine Art Museum, Racine, 3 years

Group Exhibition, ‘Culture and Agriculture,’ New Vision Gallery, Marshfield, Wisconsin, 2005 and 2012.

Images of paintings used as a Wells Fargo Investment Services group’s 2011 and 2009 Christmas Cards.

Cover, Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital Foundation fundraiser invitation, 2012.

Juried Member, Blackhawk Artists, Fort Atkinson, WI.

Juried Member, League of Milwaukee Artists, Milwaukee, WI.