Getting to Know Jane LaFazio

Thus begins a new blog series "Getting to Know You." I'll introduce you to some of my favorite artists/authors, and in the process we'll learn what makes them tick. It's all inspiration for the muse!

This month we're getting to know  fiber artist, mixed media maven and sketcher extraordiniaire Jane LaFazio of Janeville (an artist so talented that even Danny Gregory is a fan!)

Am I the only one with a song from The King and I floating through my head right now? Let's get to know Jane, let's get to know ALL about her, shall we? Watch me ask Jane a series of probing questions...
Kelli: Jane, I have long been a fan of your work. I know you as the contemporary artist and pomegranate aficionado, but your work is much deeper, with roots in watercolor painting and forays into Mexican symbols. How do you describe yourself as an artist and what path brought you to your current incarnation? Was it fate, serendipity or design?

Jane: I describe myself as a mixed media artist, working in paper and cloth. Then I try to explain that I draw and paint, collage, and make art quilts. But really, like you, I’ll try anything!
I give my dad credit for my early interest in art. My parents were divorced with I was about 1 or 2, and I’d go visit him every month in San Francisco. He’d take me to museums, craft fairs, galleries and plays. And he had a card table set up in his kitchen with bins of pipe cleaners, crepe paper, glitter, glue and kinds of stuff to make things, and we would create together. My mom, on the other hand, was a working single mom, and her support was more subtle. I soon recognized that if I was doing something creative, she wouldn’t interrupt me to do chores! Then, skip ahead many many many years, when I returned to college. I majored in Graphic Design, and began learning some real skills. I went on to work in technical illustration and finally, in 1992, realize that fine art was my calling. In 1998, I was laid off from a marketing job, and decided to see if I could make it as a full time artist…..and here I am, a dozen years later still making and teaching art full time.

Kelli: You are a prolific teacher. How do you approach teaching someone how to make art?

Jane: Basically, I show them how I do it, give them the tools and a few skills, and then I heap on encouragement do their own thing. I also try to instill in them that art making is a lot about creative problem solving. Once you’ve started a project, how do you keep it moving forward? And if you don’t like the piece you’ve created, cut it up and reassemble it into something new.
Another thing I try to create in my classes is a sense of community, so that all the students get to know each other, consequently support one another in the process. Sharing is an important part of my classes, because we can all learn so much from each other.

Kelli: I'm in love with your "slow cloth" pieces. What do you see as the benefit of this time-consuming creation?

Jane: Oh, you would not believe how much time I spend hand stitching!! I’ve always loved the process, and it can be mindless or meditative. (Years ago, I made counted cross stitch—not that’s an exercise in patience!) So these newer pieces are machine needle felted, to create an original sort of fabric that is wonderful to stitch on. Right now, on my dining room table, I have a series of pieces that will be sewn together to create a 36x48” quilt. That’s a lot of hand stitching!

Kelli: I detect a "circle" theme in much of your work, from felting to paper-cloth. Is there a reason you're drawn to this shape?
Jane: To be perfectly honest, it’s just a really easy shape to work with! I work intuitively and very quickly (at least before the hand stitching starts). I start with color, and a collection of materials, and bring them together. Circles unify the piece and randomly placed, create a design.

Kelli: You'll be teaching in Orvieto, Italy this year--how exciting! What's the thing you're most looking forward to seeing (and sketching) while you're there?

Jane: Oh my! The workshop in Orvieto in late May is really a dream come true! One of my stated goals is to travel and teach places where my husband can join me, and we traveled to Italy a dozen years ago and had the time of our lives, so we’re really looking forward to this. To soak up the ambiance of Oriveto by being in the moment, whether we’re sketching and painting in watercolor, walking the ancient streets, learning to make the town’s famous pasta, or shopping the outdoor market. Just being there for a full week will be glorious. And then, we’re going on to Venice for a few days, another dream come true!
And I do love to travel and find inspiration in the culture’s folk art and symbols. Our many trips to colonial Mexico have inspired me in a whole series of work, and I expect a distinctly Italian sensibility to pop up in my art very soon.

Kelli: It's hard for me to imagine that there is anything you have not conquered in the art world. Is there anything left on your artistic "to do" list?

Jane: Conquered? I’m not so sure about that! I certainly like to try new things! I’ve been wanting to learn to weave a basket from pine needles, and I really need to brush up on my perspective drawing. And I want to make a stuffed kimono from stitch paper!! And the minute I walk into my studio, there’s a million more things I want to work on!
Kelli: What's the big news in Janeville?

Jane: This year is definitely my teaching year! Classes and workshops in San Diego, and then Sedona, Italy, Idyllwild, Utah, Northern California, Arizona, Chicago. In between, art making and yoga and time with my beloved husband. Lots going on, but all good!

Find out more about opportunities to get artsy with Jane here:

Thanks for talking with me Jane! Now get back in the studio and make us something nifty!


  1. So I see! You two artists interviewed each other. Great job on both ends. Kelli, you asked questions that helped me learn a little more about Jane....stuff I didn't know. I love Jane. Her approach to teaching is perfect for me. I was so darn scared to pick up a sketchbook on the first day I took a class from her I almost quit the class. Now I sketch and watercolor weekly. And, I am following her to Italy to learn even more! I also love your work. It is happy and homey and joyful. I am looking forward to pulling out my empty thread spools and writing secret messages inside. Thank you both for good interviews and "amusing" inspirations

  2. What a great read! Thanks for this, kelli. Jane's work is so vibrant and fun. I want to take a class with her - and you too!

  3. Love Jane's work - love you wonderful whimsical interviewing style too!

  4. found you via Jane - and wowee-zowee so many ideas, I don't think I'm going to get to bed tonight!

  5. thanks Kelli! so fun getting to know you too! and that photo of me in the red shoes, was taken the last time I was in Tuscany, in 1998..It's one of my fave memories.

  6. Kelli - I was hearing "Getting to Know You" from the King and I:)

    I love that you all are doing these interviews! Thank you!

    You all INSPIRE ME!

  7. You caught me with my musical pants down JoJo! You're right...it's the King and I, not Sound of Music! Forty lashes for me!

  8. I loved seeing my daughter Nina's green monster featured in Janes still life photo.

    Awesome interview!

  9. I am such a fan of Jane's work.. and her Slow Cloth pieces are AMAZING! Thanks Kelli for the SUPER interview!