Janie and Renee Art Studio (Mobile)
The Makers: Janie Brown and Renee Wallace
For many artists, work is best done in solitude, tapping into inspiration and creativity in isolation.
But Mobile artists Janie Brown and Renee Wallace of Janie and Renee Art Studio have discovered some of their best work comes through working together.
“We loosen each other up with our art,” Wallace said. “It’s fun to work together. Whatever I start, she’ll finish. Whatever she starts, I’ll finish. We kind of work together and collaborate on just about everything.”
That’s especially true this time of year when their work focuses on creating art and gifts for the holiday season.
The two started planning in September what they would produce for the holiday season.
Their studio now is filled with holiday creations. There are Nativity scenes made from crown molding from old homes, angels created from broken pieces of china and tiles, Christmas tree ornaments and crosses embossed with paper-clay cherubs, holly and other images, and Santa’s face glazed onto a piece of wood.
Some of the items, like the Nativity scenes, are something their established customers demand each year.
“We have a following that kind of expects us to do certain things every year and we try to add in a few new things each year,” Wallace said.
The holiday pieces join the pair’s traditional work, which centers on floral work, fish, coastal life, churches, flower pots and an eclectic mix of original abstract canvas art and designs made from reclaimed materials.
Art has always been important to both women.
“I’ve been in art my whole life,” Brown said.
Brown worked in commercial art for 25 years where she drew by hand detailed jewelry, shoes, clothing and other items. All the while, she pursued her own art in her spare time. She went to work with Wallace at Paint Party Studios, a business that teaches groups of people to create art in events and parties.
For Wallace, art was a way to stand out.
As one of six children, she learned in kindergarten that her drawings of stations of the cross earned the attention and praise of her parents. That hooked her.
Just over a year ago, Brown and Wallace found out about the Central Arts Collective in Mobile’s Central Presbyterian Church on Dauphin Street. The former school classrooms at the church have been converted into studios with low-cost rents for artists.
Being surrounded by other artists is a big benefit, Brown said.
“That’s one of the most wonderful things about being here is just being surrounded by really good artists,” she said.
Wallace said being in a studio allows them to concentrate and get work done without the distractions of working from home.
With their collaborative style, they can be deliberate and systematic about their output.
Most pieces start with Wallace, and Brown finishes them the next morning.
“She puts those beautiful little touches on things,” Wallace said.
“I’m the closer,” Brown said.
“I build it up and she finishes,” Wallace added. “We’ve got a good thing going.”
For both women, their art starts with painting. They’ve branched out as they’ve been introduced to other art forms.
In addition to the general gift items, Janie and Renee Art Studio does custom orders with names, dates and other personalized touches. They also see group purchases from businesses for the holidays.
The product: Original artwork and handmade gifts using a number of formats and reclaimed materials.
Take home: A Nativity scene made from reclaimed wood ($50).
Janie and Renee Art Studio can be found on Facebook or you can visit them at the Central Arts Collective at 1260 Dauphin Street, Mobile, AL 36604.