We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Jeanie Tomanek a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Jeanie, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
While working an office job in 1995, my husband Dennis and I purchased an existing wholesale novelty t-shirt silk screen company. The designs were whimsical and mostly featured cats and cute sayings. We wanted to expand the lines and while I began creating new designs, drawing for the first time in many years, I realized that I wanted to paint again. It was truly an amazing feeling to know this was what I’d been seeking for so many years as my soul’s calling. I’d always painted the occasional work, but now I felt that this was what I was meant to do.
For financial reasons I knew I couldn’t leave my job right away, but I began to plan my escape. I renewed an inactive real estate license and decreased my office duties until I could resign and start a residential real estate career that would support my plan to start painting full time. The flexibility of the real estate job enabled me to start concentrating on painting.
For a few years I studied as much art work as I could that seemed to embody what I was trying to achieve in terms of style. At the time I admired abstract work and used the themes I’d previously explored in my poetry. Eventually I began showing my work-about 2001, and in a couple of years my work had evolved into a figurative and narrative style that allowed me to tell the stories and explore the themes that seemed to demand my attention.
Jeanie, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
For those who aren’t familiar with my work, I am best known for my protagonist, “Everywoman”. She is most often bald, pale and tall and represents all women. I may be telling some of my own stories and experiences but they seem to speak to others as if I’m telling their stories as well. I’m also inspired by the universality of myths, folklore and fairy tales. There is a true emotional connection that my collectors feel when they engage with my paintings. I’m so grateful that we can have this bond through my work.
Although I still show in galleries, about 5 years ago, I created an e-commerce website where I offer both originals and open editions of selected prints. I promote these works on Instagram and Facebook and have had articles in magazines and newspapers that have featured me as well as having created over 20 cover images for poetry and literature collections.
I also create custom commissions for my collectors who want to tell a particular story through my work. They may be commemorating a relationship, reliving a childhood story or celebrating the strength and wisdom of women as I often like to do.
By now, twenty years into this career that occurred relatively late in my life, I am most proud of the connections that I have forged with so many collectors around the world. These are not just customers but friends. I know of their families, and their trials and successes, joys and sorrows, even though I’ve never met most of them in person.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
The journey of a creative in our society is not an easy one. In the United States, unlike many other countries, there is no regular support system to assist the struggling artist and reward their achievements. I was determined not to give up on my dream of being a full time painter even when the economy crashed in 2008 and I had my own particular set of personal and financial difficulties to deal with. I kept on, trying to find other ways to use my work. I opened an Etsy shop and sold prints and paintings too cheaply, but every little bit helped at that point, and I was discovered by some collectors and writers who helped me get more name recognition. The amount I made selling my art was the difference between keeping a roof over my family’s head or not.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
I read something recently that resonated with me about being the middle child in a large family, which I am. I am the fourth of seven children. That quote referred to the effect of birth order on the psychological make up formed when always wanting to be noticed. I think I do that with my work sometimes. When I put a creation out in the world it’s my way of communicating and making a connection. I admit to wanting that creation to be well received and understood. It’s my way of staking my claim that I matter. Fortunately for me that is a secondary goal. My main goal is to communicate stories of women and celebrate their strength and wisdom and courage, to create an experience that will resonate with others and affirm the connection that we share.
- Website: https://jeanietomanek.com
- Instagram: @everywomanart
- Facebook: jeanie tomanek
Jeanie Tomanek Dennis Tomanek