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Memories from Childhood


Today, by coincidence, I was looking in my studio for a particular piece of Japanese rice paper that I had misplaced, when I came across this little doll-like figure I had made when I was two years old. My 93 year old mother had saved this little doll for me and gave it to me one of the last times I saw her.

Also coincidentally, I am going to see her again at the end of this week, so I decided to include the little doll in one of my current collages.

“Hi Five” by J. Kirstein. 14″ x 11.” Mixed media. June 2019. Before the final touch of the “Hi 5.”
“Hi 5” finished piece by Jan Kirstein.

I added a “Hi 5” on the drawn part of the collage. I also added a variety of quick marks reminding me of what it felt like to be a kid again. I work with childhood memories from time to time in my work, as it takes me back to my creative origins and original unbiased urges, unrestrained by propriety and judgemental restraint.

Ironically enough, though the title suggests the hand-slapping connection of one person’s celebratory smack of another’s hand, this little creature appears to have no hands, or arms, for that matter.

I can distinctly remember when it occurred to me at age 3 that people’s arms grow out of their torsos, not their heads. I could not believe my vast ignorance at thinking this preposterous error previously. I remember having to readjust my entire paradigm of my understanding of human anatomy to be able to proceed forward from that day on.

Apparently I had not yet had this epiphany when I made this doll. I think my mother must have surely helped me with some of the details on it, like sewing on the buttons for eyes, or maybe demarcating the facial features with a few simple lines. But she claims it was “all Me.” She said she saved it because she thought it showed unusual ability for such a small child.

Thank you Mother for your observation and awareness.

Now I have the opportunity to love and learn some things from my two year old self! I only hope I can access my true fire and intuition as well as I did as a two year old child.

After all, Picasso did say: “Children are the best artists.”

Collages and writing by Jan Kirstein

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I Did a REALLY Ugly Painting Today!


Nancy Hillis would be proud of me. I created an enormously ugly painting today and IT WAS SO FUN!! Boy was I on a roll! First I started off and it looked pretty nice, then I kept “futzing” with it. Finally I just let loose and flew into a foaming at the mouth painting frenzy, keeping in mind all the virtues of painting “the Ugly Painting” which she stipulates so articulately in her new book: “The Artist’s Journey.”

The more I painted, the uglier it got. Finally I was just making moves in the paint completely removed from any preconceived notions.

Nancy Hillis would be proud. Why don’t you tell me the story of your ugliest painting? Maybe you have made one uglier than mine and would like to tell me about it!

Quotes from Nancy about the “ugly” painting.:

She says “Ugly” paintings threaten you because they’re unfamiliar and unruly, and emerge unbidden without your consent. They subvert your need for control.”


“Your “ugly” paintings are vitally important. In fact, these paintings are probably more important by several orders of magnitude than the work you like and value.”


“The cost of dismissing your rejected, “ugly” paintings is you risk missing discovering something until now invisible in you trying to become visible.”


“Just as the chrysalis is the nascent form of the butterfly, the “ugly” painting is the raw essence of new, experimental work.”

“Cultivating an attitude of experimentation is one of the most important and potent things you
can do to develop and evolve your art,” says Nancy Hillis.

Going Large: Collage on Canvas


In my art studio, space is limited, and there is just barely room for this latest 4 foot by 8 foot canvas. I love working in large scale. I won’t give it up for anything, though I still find making small 14″ x 11″ collages on paper and unstretched canvas a way to grow as a painter daily by leaps and bounds.

Jan Kirstein

“The Fall of Western Civilization,” by Jan Kirstein. 4′ x 8.’ Mixed media on canvas. 2019

“The Fall of Western Civilization” Details

Click on above images to enlarge.

Detail: “The Fall of Western Civilization.”

The title of this work comes from the general shift of virtually everything I see around me on every level, in government, both Federal and State, in institutions, in relationships, in land, in all aspects of our culture, in all aspects of life. Though with the changes comes movement and flexibility with new connections occurring at a most rapid pace.

Jan Kirstein

“Let It Rip”!


There are the encouraging words I received from my friend Judy Sato when I posted on Facebook my latest collages. Thank you Judy and I believe I will!

I have been working with a small series of paper pieces combining Sumi E Ink, graphite, pastel and Japanese Rice Paper. I then moved to small canvas pieces, then finally to a large 48″ x 56″ stretched canvas. Unfortunately I can barely move it because of its weight. But at least I have proven that large paintings are still possible for me!

“Wham-O.” Mixed Media on stretched canvas, 48″ x 56.” 2019 by Jan Kirstein

I am an American contemporary artist and writer working primarily with mixed media. My paintings and collage work juxtapose diverse imagery to explore ideas of emerging fragmentation and reconstruction through fluctuating recognition and realization. These perceptions then can transform into a meaningful and unified whole.

It is my intention that the viewer look at one of my paintings as if one is sifting through an archeological dig of the subconscious mind, moving as though through layer upon layer of earth. Barely recognizable forms emerge from the surface of the paintings into a conscious gestalt where meanings are meant to galvanize through the viewer’s own personal references and connections.

“Wham-O” detail, by Jan Kirstein

My work comes from a deeply personal and intuitively expressionistic perspective. I want to create work that I can view as reflective of my own personal responses to environmental and cultural influences and experiences both surrounding me as well as moving through me at any given moment. Creating art allows me to assimilate and make sense of the world and of myself. Painting can serve as an anthropological tool moving through the subconscious mind, allowing for self-reflection and a greater comprehension of the world.

“Wham-O” detail #2 by Jan Kirstein

Movement through brushwork, markings and layered, open passages lead the viewer on a journey of discovery, enabling the creation of a myriad of associations and insights. Through observing the relationships of applied materials to a surface, layers of seemingly random associations can merge into realization, recognition and insight.

My materials often include Sumi e Ink, Calligraphy brushes, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, acrylic and a variety of papers including Japanese rice paper and canvas.

“Wham-O” detail #3 by Jan Kirstein

I have been greatly influenced by artists from the past. Matisse has influenced and inspired my love of brilliant color and its interactions. I have also been greatly inspired by the expressive paintings of the abstract expressionists such as Helen Frankenthaler for her bold and sensitive use of organic poured paint shapes, by Franz Kline for his stark use of diagonal bold lines and stark contrast and by Robert Rauschenberg for his unique juxtaposition of cultural icons into a variety of assembled collages.

Mixed Media Collage by Jan Kirstein. 14″ x 11.” 2019

Though I began my journey as a realistic figure artist, I quickly became inspired by all of the Abstract Expressionist painters of the 20th Century. Upon this discovery, I moved into my lifelong exploration of the abstract and expressive modes of painting and drawing. I have continued pursuing this vein of expressive exploration as a professional painter for over 35 years, and feel that I am just beginning to find buried treasures through the process of the creative discovery.

By Jan Kirstein

Mixed Media Collage by Jan Kirstein, 14″ x 11.” 2019.
Multi Media Collage by Jan Kirstein, 14″ x 11.” 2019.
Multi Media Collage by Jan Kirstein, 14″ x 11.” 2019

Many thanks to inspiration fro Nancy Hillis’ book: “The Artist’s Journey.”

KY. Derby Day With Healing and Art


Put your money on the Darkhorse.
Win on Derby Day with a Darkhorse favorite: KIRSTEINFINEART. Click on the above photo to see the latest KIRSTEINFINEART fashion creations on VIDA.

Janis Kirstein

Fine art, reiki and fashion accompany Ky. Derby Day like a horse and carriage. 💘

Fashion made from Fine Art Studio of Jan Kirstein.

A quote from my dear and erudite friend, and one of my very first students from over 40 years ago: Architect Jay Kratz.

This beautiful, flowing top features drop shoulder sleeves, a flattering V-neck and a hi-low silhouette. This soft and easy, flexible shape is perfect for casual or dressy attire depending on the styling.

Time to get back to my studio and stoke the creative 🔥 🔥 🔥 fires!