Darien painter to head to Paris
DARIEN — Through the panes of the French doors that line the wall of Jan Dilenschneider’s home studio, the blue waters of Long Island Sound are prominent.
Away from the vista, the walls, the floor and the circular table situated in the middle of the room are shrouded with paintings at various stages of completion — evidence of hours spent working and reworking. Centered among it all stands an easel, situated so as to offer a panoramic view of the seascape from which Dilenschneider daily draws inspiration.
The subjects of Dilenschneider’s paintings are almost always natural, rendered at times figuratively, as in the case of “Flora Against Blue Sky,” which depicts amber reeds against a bright firmament, and at others abstractly: The swirls of color in “Super Storm Sandy” evoke a feeling of havoc befitting the 2012 hurricane, the surges of which Dilenschneider witnessed from her home.
In either case, Dilenschneider often finds herself depicting local scenes.
“Darien is such a beautiful location; so many things come just from around here,” she said.
Beginning next week, Dilenschneider’s scenes of Darien will make the trek across the Atlantic to Europe. The paintings, both triptychs, will be among the works shown in a nature-themed exhibition curated by the Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier at the Art Paris Art Fair at the Grand Palais from Thursday through April 3.
Dilenschneider has been creating art for most of her life.
“I don’t know when I started painting. I think my first art was with Crayola,” she said.
While studying at Ohio State University, she took art classes, but wasn’t able to fully dedicate herself to painting after college.
“There wasn’t much time, but always there was the art element in my life, whether it was sketching or going to museums. It’s always been there,” she said.
She continued to paint on the side, taking lessons at the North Shore Art League while living in Chicago and at the National Academy of Design during time spent in New York. But it wasn’t until three years ago, when a friend at a Christmas party expressed interest in purchasing one of her paintings and subsequently introduced her to a Parisian gallerist, that Dilenschneider’s painting blossomed from a hobby into a career. Dilenschneider sent the gallerist, Pierre-Alain Challier, pictures of her work, which led quickly to her first solo exhibition at the gallery.
“It is difficult to give up a painting,” said Dilenschneider of her initial reluctance at the thought of parting from her work. “But we sold about 40 percent of the paintings at the first show.” Two additional shows in Paris have followed, and her work was the subject of a 2015 show at Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum, “Dualities.”
In the three years since her first show, Dilenschneider, the only American being shown at the Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier, has continued to sell her work in large quantities and has amassed an international following.
This will be her first year showing at the Art Paris Art Fair, a massive gathering of 143 modern and contemporary art galleries from 20 countries, featuring 145 exhibitions and 2,200 artists.
“In four days, 55,000 people came through last year,” Dilenschneider said.
But even as she garners increasingly more attention on the international art scene with her paintings of Connecticut landscapes, she is never far from the source.
“Looking out there is a painting,” she said seated in her studio, staring out at the waters of the Sound.