May 24, 2017
by Sharon Feissel
Daughter of a woodworking father and a mother skilled as a woodblock carver and painter, Janet Doto found art to be a natural outlet during her 23 years in the Air Force. She traveled Europe and the Middle East, including Iran in the late 70s, spent a few summers 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and was in Canada and the Caribbean. Throughout her travels, she carried watercolors and sketchbooks along, sometimes trading a quick portrait or local scene for a cool beer. She credits her experience in those diverse locations with giving her an appreciation of the qualities of light and their effects upon a subject. “One of the things about each area that I found so interesting was the quality of light—brittle Arctic light, soft defused desert light, the deep golden light of Italy, and the bright hot light of the tropics.”
Janet retired in Florida for a decade, graduating from outdoor art shows to a gallery in Islamorada. She drew upon the milieu. “It’s the sports fishing capital of the world, so I was painting game fish, birds, and island landscapes. I worked exclusively in watercolors, because the fluid quality lent itself to painting fluid things! Sometimes I apply inks to watercolors for a more illustrated look, as with some of my Florida works and my rooster, Petaluma Proud.”
Her “life loop”, as she calls it, was completed two years ago when Janet and her husband moved to Santa Rosa, her hometown. Janet clearly appreciates the constantly-changing light of the Sonoma-Marin area. Her rendering of Cypress Point on Tomales Bay is proof of her mastery of light and mood and of her preferred medium, watercolors. “I’m absolutely in love with the topography of Sonoma and Marin counties,” Janet smiles. “Just looking out the window makes my heart sing and my hands itch to paint. I spend a great deal of time hiking Annadel, Spring Lake, Mt. Taylor, and any path that’s not too steep or too muddy. My goal is to carry my paints to the summit of Hood Mountain in Kenwood, which was named after a great, great uncle William Hood, and paint the view till it’s too dark to see!”
Janet continues, “Painting for me is a blend of faith, hope, skill, and luck. Catching the light, the gleam of sunlight dappling under oaks or sliding off wet vineyards thrills me. Defining the elegant curve of an ancient Cypress sets my heart free. I paint because I just love to say to my viewer, ‘Do you see what I see? Isn’t it just exquisite!’ and, God willing, it is!”
Janet is a featured artist during the Late Spring show at Riverfront Art Gallery, 132 Petaluma Blvd, in Petaluma. Her show, The Road Home, has watercolors, watercolors & ink, and oils. Florida influence will be present, as well as local places that resonate with Janet’s memories of growing up in Sonoma County and summering on Tomales Bay. The show runs through July 2.
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