We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeanie Tomanek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeanie, what do you attribute your success to?
Because I make original narrative paintings, the most important factor is to create works that are unique with a voice and style that stands out and is recognizable as mine and only mine. The work must tell a story that speaks to the viewer in such a way that they want to make it a part of their life and their home.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My paintings tell stories. They are typically women’s stories with my “Everywoman” as the protagonist. I didn’t start painting until I was fifty and had always had this pent up need to do work that would feed my soul. Though I’d always painted once in a while, it was something I took for granted. I wrote poetry and had some published and later when the lightbulb went off and I discovered that painting was what I was meant to do, I explored those themes that had started with words and ended up in paintings. I started showing my work in a little co-op gallery in Roswell, Georgia and from there went on to be represented by galleries across the US. I was amazed that what had started as an exploration of my own and other women’s experience was appreciated by so many others. The largest hurdle I’ve had to overcome came in 2008 as the Great Recession took place. My husband had a stroke, his business was lost and I had to rely on my painting income alone to support us. We nearly lost our house but eventually my painting sales saved us. I’ve changed my business model by marketing my work myself in addition to a few select galleries. My per sale income is lower but there are more of them. I may never be what the mainstream art world considers a success but I can’t regret that I survived and thrived.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well I’m a bit of a hermit to begin with so I would guess we might spend a good bit of time at home, eating wonderful Italian specialties cooked by my husband Dennis and drinking red wine and maybe some good reposada. For food outside the house, I think the nearby Marietta Square where my gallery The Loft is located is really up and coming with a variety of great cuisine. It’s become a great alternative to going into the city. In Atlanta, we would go to the High Museum to enjoy their great collections, visit Miami Circle where you can see almost all the good art galleries in the city. For an outdoor experience, Kennesaw Mountain is close by and is a beautiful and historic setting to hike and appreciate Civil War era battle sites. Antique hunting or thrift shopping is a fun way to spend an afternoon too. We’d come home tired and hungry and if it was nice weather, we’d have a drink on our wrap around porch and plan our next day. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people that have helped me along in my career: If I can mention several that deserve my thanks it would have to be these folks: My collectors who have supported me over the years and done me the great honor of making my work a part of their lives. The galleries who represent my work: The Loft Gallery in Marietta, Georgia, Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, Texas and Art Alley in Birmingham, Alabama. They are some of the finest people I’ve ever been associated with and we’ve been through thick and thin with each other. I consider them friends. My husband Dennis, who really ought to be first on the list. He’s put up with me for over 50 years and is always there with encouragement and help with the “heavy lifting” A couple of books that made a huge difference in realizing my identity as an artist: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes