When Jane Medved was in second grade, she drew a crayon portrait of a woman at an easel with the words, “I want to be an artist.”
Now “70 going on 14,” Medved lives the life her former self once depicted.
Medved is originally from New York but moved to Gainesville in 1976. She said she came to find inner peace and connect with a community that practiced “Knowledge,” an intensive form of meditation.
She said the practice transformed her personality and her art is reflective of that sense of tranquility.
In 1983, she moved into her current home, a red-brick house nestled between thick vegetation, with her husband Chris. On the same property there is a separate space which serves as her art studio.
The high-stretching walls of the structure are covered with windows and canvases. The acrylic paintings, some with human or animal subjects, feature depictions of water and earth. Skylights cast a glow on an easel surrounded by jars of paint and brushes.
The studio also has a loft which served as storage, but Medved and her husband renovated it to provide more space for her work.
“I’m very productive,” she said, gesturing toward shelves with stacks of canvas.
She also has a small woodshop where she constructs frames for her paintings and sculptures.
She considers her paintings to fall into one of three categories: waterscapes, peoplescapes and worldscapes, which describe the subject of each work.
“I paint nature and human nature,” she said.
She thinks of all her canvas work as an underpainting, knowing she can go back to any and continue adding layers or alterations, she said.
Medved also makes palm masks, which are painted faces on the branches dropped by palm trees.
“It’s a nice repurpose project,” she said.
Medved said she noticed some of the bark jutting out in the middle, which “just seemed like it was asking for a nose.”
“They’re like cartoons,” she said. “It’s a reminder for people to find the humor in life.”
Some of Medved’s work is featured around Gainesville, including at Leonardo’s 706, SweetBerries, Bodywise and Balanced Body. She also has paintings at the Florida Springs Institute in High Springs and has previously had exhibits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
Medved said she doesn’t often mingle within Gainesville’s art community but has enjoyed participating in the Gainesville Fine Arts Association’s Artist Studio Tour, where she raffled off palm masks to those who visited.
When she’s not in her studio, Medved and her husband spend time each week at one of Florida’s springs.
“We start by taking a 45-minute walk to get our bodies warmed up,” she said. They spend the rest of the day lounging, reading and going in the water.
Many of her paintings depict scenes from the springs. She said she feels recharged and ready to create upon leaving.
“I used to be very frugal, so now I’m able to do this,” she said.
Before she retired, Medved worked as a clay sculptor, a hairdresser, a museum consultant and has written and edited for a women’s newspaper in Gainesville, among other professions.
“Sometimes, when I’m painting strings of hair, I think how it [being a hairdresser] came full circle,” she said.
She believes creativity can be expressed in any career path.
“Even an accountant, they may have creative ways of doing it, or for getting customers,” Medved said. “Life is a creative process.”
Although she has made some politically-charged artwork, Medved said she prefers not to add to the “chatter” which is already prevalent in people’s lives. Instead, she said she likes allowing people to be relaxed and calmed through her work.
“I am not an artist,” she said. “I do art… but I am joy. I am peace.”
Medved’s artwork can be found on her website, janemedved.com. Studio visits are welcome by appointment.
Jane Medved uses acrylic paints for a palm mask.