About Jane Lannagan
During a course in Dress and Design in the 70’s I discovered the delights of batik. From an artistic family I learned very early to enjoy sketching and painting and still remember the pride I felt when my father framed one of my efforts.
My father, Tom Guise, was a prolific painter in oils, acrylics and watercolour and despite himself being self taught, successfully exhibited in the RSA in Edinburgh and had many one man exhibitions in this country and in America.
I can remember watching him from an early age as he sat at his easel in the countryside – all our holidays were arranged around his painting!
I am so sorry that he died just as I started to produce my own work. Latterly he painted with a pointillistic technique- applying the paint with small dots- I really think that batiking would have appealed to him.
Born and brought up in Edinburgh, I spent my early working life as a medical laboratory technician. I did not go to Art College as my two sisters did, but later on during a diploma course in dress and design I discovered the art of batik and fell in love with its concept and have never stopped producing work during the past forty years.
I was influenced by my father and by my friends, who are also members of the Scottish Batik Guild – we meet twice yearly to share ideas and hold exhibitions.
Originally batik was an Eastern art form and used to decorate clothing materials using wax and dyes and until recently has had no recognition in the West.
I developed my own particular style over the years starting out with old white sheets, candle wax melted in a double boiler and applied with brushes and shop bought dyes and over time I sold my art. I bought a wax pot, proper batik wax, wax pens from Java and the Ukrainian Bookshop and now use the finest Primissima cotton.
When a particular image or scene appeals to me- it has to have interesting light, colour, movement and texture. I immediately start to translate it into a picture in my mind. As the last colours achieved are the darkest, I have to think in the negative to get the final results, all the time bearing in mind that the resultant shades are an overlaying of dye colours.
The varying hues and textures of the Scottish Highlands where I live have greatly influenced my work. With its ever changing light and shade, hues and textures I am never at a loss for subject matter.
In the image I select- light could be constantly changing and so too will the scene. I use my camera to catch that exact moment and to record the light and colour which had so impressed me. I do not slavishly copy the photo as I like to think that my picture is my interpretation of how I view the scene. By the nature of the technique I have to work in a studio where there are electrical points for my wax pot.
I get quite a few requests for commissions which obviously are other people’s choice of subject matter, but so far I have enjoyed these as I can see what impressed them about their choice. The most bizarre commission was not a landscape but a portrait of a cat called “Scabby” who had recently died. I was anxious that I would get a decent likeness with the batik technique. However Scabby’s owner gave me all the gratification I needed when she burst into tears when she saw the results and said that it was exactly like Scabby!
People are mostly complimentary about my work, they admire the colour and atmosphere they say I have captured – I never fail to feel excited when I sell prints and originals for that is praise in itself. I felt very proud when I sold a picture in the Scottish Society of Artists in 2005 in Edinburgh and when the “Artist” magazine awarded me the Royal Talens Award in their annual exhibition. The fact also that an American songwriter and musician chose some of my images to set his music to made me very happy.
Bill & I
One of the best parts of this job is that Bill, my husband and I can make a living out of it – something that most artists have wished for. Without Bill my art would be nowhere. Apart from his encouragement, he scans my original work and makes prints and cards from them- he frames them, organises exhibitions and wholesales the cards.
For me the most amazing thing with this technique is that no matter how I have in my mind what the finished work should look like, it always ends up slightly different – I call it a technique with attitude for it comes out as it wants to – and gives my work great fluidity.
My challenge is to have the public accept batik as a medium in its own right which can be fully appreciated alongside the more conventional techniques of oil and watercolour.