Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, videos and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jane Kalmbach

Published:

Since I was a little girl, growing up on a farm in rural North Dakota, I dreamed of being an artist. I was always drawing or making something. I also started taking piano lessons as a child, which led to playing for church services by the time I turned 13. At the time, art and music were interwoven as my creative outlets, but then I graduated from high school and soon married. While raising my family in a nearby small town, I became a private piano instructor and set aside my pencils, brushes and paper for years. Suddenly, my children became teenagers. I discovered time for my own interests. The passion for art returned with an energy I couldn’t ignore, and in 2004 I picked up soft pastels.

Jane Kalmbach Piano

As I continued this journey, adding charcoal, watercolors and acrylic paints, my father encouraged the need for my own art space. Working around his farming schedule, he helped design a studio that felt like a natural addition to our four-story 116-year-old house. We built a room drenched in light, with wide windows on three sides and a high ceiling to match the house’s architecture. Along with art supplies, I added family treasures and re-purposed vintage items to fit my needs. My grandfather’s red chair sits by one window, a place to read, journal and sketch while remembering decades back when Grandpa sang and told me stories in that chair. Then there’s the square-topped poker table that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother, rescued years ago from her basement. I added extensions to the legs, casters for mobility, and a couple of comfortable stools. The table serves as the central workspace for my projects, usually several at any given time.

The studio moves me through the seasons. During the summer and early fall, I look out to my flower gardens for inspiration and watch hummingbirds hover. Winter brings a blanket of peace, with a cozy fireplace and my dog Molli to perfect the scene. Spring energizes me as I work on new ideas at the poker table and watch the trees and shrubs outside for emerging buds.

Dakota Blessings Art launched from that studio. I feel as if I’ve come full circle; hopes and dreams I dared to nurture have grown beyond my imagination.

Jane Kalmbach Portrait

I have the joy of traveling across the state teaching youth and instructing at weekend art retreats, along with offering classes from my public studio in Kenmare for all ages. I truly love to teach, to watch new artists get excited and see their self-confidence bloom, to help them work through a “mistake” in order to consider it a lesson and embrace the challenge it presents.

Along with the motivation of teaching, I draw inspiration for my art from music and scripture, and often add fragments of either or both to my works. I stopped teaching piano after 24 years to grow as a visual artist, but I continue to play, which frees my mind to envision colors, designs and patterns I carry back to the studio. Reading Bible passages or hymn lyrics often generates an image, and before I realize it, I’m painting the actual picture to accompany it. Music and art and words are so connected within me that I cannot conceive of one without the others; all three elements feed my soul.

A rolling cart with three shelves holds supplies and moves around the poker table with me; brushes, gesso, tubes of acrylic paints, drawing pencils, and more are stored there, but the top tier holds my favorite tools. These days, I describe myself as a color pencil artist—or addict!

I first tried color pencils about three years ago. The techniques and results hooked me instantly: the slow progress, the fine details, the level of realism. Through the many layers of color and fine blending techniques, I can finally create the images I see in my mind.

Jane Kalmbach Supplies

When I need a break from working with details, I enjoy a variety of other media and methods. Alcohol inks are irresistible because they take the control out of my hands. Painting on musical instruments, tree bark, and wood pieces provides surprising surfaces and textures. Indoor and outdoor murals challenge me with a large public space, whether on farmers’ grain bins, in school hallways, or along the exterior walls of downtown businesses. Digital art helps me create when I cannot be home in my studio. The ways in which technology has changed the art world amaze me!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

My first gallery show took place in 2011, and I am thrilled to be preparing for another solo exhibition in 2021. I also accept several commissions each year. To keep from feeling stifled, I reward myself with a new painting idea after I complete and deliver an order. Alternating my work this way keeps me motivated and excited to be in the studio.

Jane Kalmbach at Work

Perhaps my biggest challenge is finding the balance between marketing and creating. As I continue to promote on a variety of social media sites, I hope to grow a larger audience. However, popularity and money are distant cousins to making a difference in someone’s life through art, whether sharing original paintings that speak to a soul or encouraging people to create for themselves.

I think everyone wants to create, but the fear of failure and time needed to learn something new can seem insurmountable. It’s so essential, though, especially for women, to find that “something” that makes us come alive. From painting a canvas to tending garden beds to playing an instrument, we all have that desire. Don’t waste your God-given talents.

By serving the passion for art that shapes my life, I hope I can encourage others to follow their dreams…because this small-town farm girl, with gratitude to her family and friends for so much support, definitely has the life she loves.

Since I was a little girl, growing up on a farm in rural North Dakota, I dreamed of being an artist. I was always drawing or making something. I also started taking piano lessons as a child, which led to playing for church services by the time I turned 13. At the time, art and music were interwoven as my creative outlets, but then I graduated from high school and soon married. While raising my family in a nearby small town, I became a private piano instructor and set aside my pencils, brushes and paper for years. Suddenly, my children became teenagers. I discovered time for my own interests. The passion for art returned with an energy I couldn’t ignore, and in 2004 I picked up soft pastels.

Jane Kalmbach Piano

As I continued this journey, adding charcoal, watercolors and acrylic paints, my father encouraged the need for my own art space. Working around his farming schedule, he helped design a studio that felt like a natural addition to our four-story 116-year-old house. We built a room drenched in light, with wide windows on three sides and a high ceiling to match the house’s architecture. Along with art supplies, I added family treasures and re-purposed vintage items to fit my needs. My grandfather’s red chair sits by one window, a place to read, journal and sketch while remembering decades back when Grandpa sang and told me stories in that chair. Then there’s the square-topped poker table that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother, rescued years ago from her basement. I added extensions to the legs, casters for mobility, and a couple of comfortable stools. The table serves as the central workspace for my projects, usually several at any given time.

The studio moves me through the seasons. During the summer and early fall, I look out to my flower gardens for inspiration and watch hummingbirds hover. Winter brings a blanket of peace, with a cozy fireplace and my dog Molli to perfect the scene. Spring energizes me as I work on new ideas at the poker table and watch the trees and shrubs outside for emerging buds.

Dakota Blessings Art launched from that studio. I feel as if I’ve come full circle; hopes and dreams I dared to nurture have grown beyond my imagination.

Jane Kalmbach Portrait

I have the joy of traveling across the state teaching youth and instructing at weekend art retreats, along with offering classes from my public studio in Kenmare for all ages. I truly love to teach, to watch new artists get excited and see their self-confidence bloom, to help them work through a “mistake” in order to consider it a lesson and embrace the challenge it presents.

Along with the motivation of teaching, I draw inspiration for my art from music and scripture, and often add fragments of either or both to my works. I stopped teaching piano after 24 years to grow as a visual artist, but I continue to play, which frees my mind to envision colors, designs and patterns I carry back to the studio. Reading Bible passages or hymn lyrics often generates an image, and before I realize it, I’m painting the actual picture to accompany it. Music and art and words are so connected within me that I cannot conceive of one without the others; all three elements feed my soul.

A rolling cart with three shelves holds supplies and moves around the poker table with me; brushes, gesso, tubes of acrylic paints, drawing pencils, and more are stored there, but the top tier holds my favorite tools. These days, I describe myself as a color pencil artist—or addict!

I first tried color pencils about three years ago. The techniques and results hooked me instantly: the slow progress, the fine details, the level of realism. Through the many layers of color and fine blending techniques, I can finally create the images I see in my mind.

Jane Kalmbach Supplies

When I need a break from working with details, I enjoy a variety of other media and methods. Alcohol inks are irresistible because they take the control out of my hands. Painting on musical instruments, tree bark, and wood pieces provides surprising surfaces and textures. Indoor and outdoor murals challenge me with a large public space, whether on farmers’ grain bins, in school hallways, or along the exterior walls of downtown businesses. Digital art helps me create when I cannot be home in my studio. The ways in which technology has changed the art world amaze me!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

My first gallery show took place in 2011, and I am thrilled to be preparing for another solo exhibition in 2021. I also accept several commissions each year. To keep from feeling stifled, I reward myself with a new painting idea after I complete and deliver an order. Alternating my work this way keeps me motivated and excited to be in the studio.

Jane Kalmbach at Work

Perhaps my biggest challenge is finding the balance between marketing and creating. As I continue to promote on a variety of social media sites, I hope to grow a larger audience. However, popularity and money are distant cousins to making a difference in someone’s life through art, whether sharing original paintings that speak to a soul or encouraging people to create for themselves.

I think everyone wants to create, but the fear of failure and time needed to learn something new can seem insurmountable. It’s so essential, though, especially for women, to find that “something” that makes us come alive. From painting a canvas to tending garden beds to playing an instrument, we all have that desire. Don’t waste your God-given talents.

By serving the passion for art that shapes my life, I hope I can encourage others to follow their dreams…because this small-town farm girl, with gratitude to her family and friends for so much support, definitely has the life she loves.