BARBARA JANUSZKIEWICZ


Briefly explain your creative process and do you pursue any themes in your work, and, if so, what are they?:

I'm always working on my visual memory, challenging myself to be more observant of the world around me. Art also helps me to think creatively. My work is more then just painting. It is also about being an artist, educator, and creative activist. One of my passions is painting in an abstract style that's inspired by music. The other is living authentically.

Please describe a real-life circumstance or situation that has served as a source of inspiration:

There are three people who have influenced me most in my creative process: R. Buckminster Full, Matthew Shipp, and Paul Reed. In my early 20s, I met R. Buckminster Full who encouraged me to think about impact, influences, and humanity. Matthew Shipp, in my opinion the MOST brilliant free jazz piano player living today, continues to influence me in the areas of freedom, creativity, and maintaining a unique voice. And, finally, painter Paul Reed from the Washington Color School movement demonstrated to me that as we age although we can expect expertise, it is important to keep a humble head and a healthy sense of curiosity. 

Why is art so important to you? To society?:

Once you open your mind to chasing your passion, you become a magnet for interesting possibilities. Many of the things I do now are creative solutions that opened up unexpected opportunities. Given the unconventional nature and scale of the problems we face today, there is real value to be gained from creative collaborations that bridge the best talents we have in both the quantitative and qualitative domains. 


We need to foster creative thinking and critical problem-solving as a positive way to change the world we live in. I would like to see more of a feedback loop between creative thinking and doing, if we want to address social problems and inspire a sense of cultural and artistic engagement. I would also like to see our community change from being a consumption-based society to an expressive, creative-based society.


What's the best advice you've ever received?:

This bit of advice is not something that was given to me personally, but I think this is the best advice ever:

As quoted from Thelonius Monk's advice to jazz musicians, from the handwritten transcription by Steve Lacy, 1960, "Just because you're not a drummer, doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time." And, "Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music [should] just [be] imagined. What you don’t play can be more important than what you do play.”

How do you believe we can change our consumption-based society, to an expressive creative-based society?:

We need to foster creative thinking and critical problem-solving as a positive way to change the world we live in.

More About this Artist:

From intense color compositions to subdued shades of reverberations, Januszkiewicz's paintings strive to visually capture the sensation of sound.

Januszkiewicz trained formally under Chinese master Mun Quan, a traditional watercolorist whose influence can be seen in her wet and controlled technique. Her experiments in stretching the creative boundaries of watercolor led her to make her own paints for greater depth of color and luminosity. Recently, she was introduced to Washington Color Painter Paul Reed and started experimenting with staining in acrylics.


Philosophically, Januszkiewicz values risk-taking, experimentation, and creative collaboration. What distinguishes Januskiewicz's success is her many years as a watercolorist, painting in a wet technique. It is this skill that she now brings into applying paint stains onto unprimed canvas.

Januszkiewicz has been influenced directly by music in her career. She strives to capture how music sounds and feels in her paintings. "I find it intriguing that there is a vocabulary of words that apply to both music and visual art such as movement, patterns, complements, harmonies and layering," she says. "Music is my muse. I am inspired by the gritty undertones and rhythm patterns of the blues. I take a song's chord progressions and play with the idea of a mirrored chord in the colors I paint with. Blending the music and corresponding color notes, I work to create luminous paintings that reflect the emotionalism and improvisational freedom that we find in music genres like jazz and blues. I see my work as a frozen moment of the song."

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