BreakThroughColour

MEET JANA LEHMANN

Tracy HolmesComment

From the very first time I saw her work on flickr, polymer clay artist Jana Lehmann caught my eye as someone who really knows how to to work and play with colour... with the emphasis on 'play'! With super saturated colours and bold palette pairings, these pins go 'pop!' like a child's favourite toy, yet her grown-up graphics give style to the whimsy, and her admirable level of craftsmanship clearly sets her work apart as anything but kids' stuff.

I met Jana at a masterclass retreat last summer. She and I were both teaching (me: colour with polymer, and her: polymer with colour), and she stopped by my classroom during a lunch break, curious to get a closer look at the full collection of Colour Cards and Cubes that were strewn all over my demo table. Time was short, but Jana really knows her way around the wheel, so we managed to drill down quickly, talk about the system, how it works, and how it might work its way into her process as a designer and maker.

"I have to admit it, at first I was skeptical. There are colour workshops and classes out there and in my opinion some of them are only a kind of fashion thing, because everyone does it. But I was convinced in less than 5 minutes."

BreakThroughColour evolved as a way for beginners to analyze and explain colour, a 'new spin' on the traditional wheel for those that couldn't quite 'get it' (uhhhmmm, like me...?). I hadn't really given much thought to how my new system of cards and codes and cubes might enhance the work of the colour confident. It was such a delight to watch someone as attuned and intuitive as Jana quickly connect to BTC on a deeper level. My Kickstarter campaign was live at the time, so when Jana signed on right then as a Backer, I was honoured and excited to know that before too long, BTC would travel to Germany and find a home in her home studio.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when Jana sent me this photo:

It's always a treat to get to see the behind-the-scenes places where artists make their art, but it was especially special for me to see what was on display on Jana's top shelf: colour... cubed!

"I've always had a good sense of colours, but I like BTC because it widens the horizon. I can't keep all the colours in my mind at the same time, when I think about a colour combination I just remember a few colours and I pick my favourite ones. Now I can hold all the colours in my hand and look for nice combinations, draw single colours, find matching ones, by colours or by numbers. There are so many ways and all of them are effective. It's so easy, it seems the cards do the whole colour thing by themselves. Colours are like people, now I don't have to remember everyone, I have pictures of all of my friends instead.

Jana will be back for an encore, teaching again at this summer's Master Class Camp. If you're near Maryland this June 17-20, you might want to sign up for a spot in Jana's polymer romper room. Go here for more info

Here's one of Jana's latest projects, a tile made for the FIMO 50 World Project. Aside from its positive statement, it's a great colour study tool, showing a full spectrum of fresh Hues, and then featuring them further with Value variations and playful illusions. Yes! This is art.