Artist's move to 'Natural World'
naturally makes her a better artist

Barbara Janusz is a much more prolific artist now that the "natural world" is at her doorstep in Hope instead of hours away - as was the case in the city where she used to live. An accomplished watercolor painter who has been a full-time artist since 1973, Janusz moved here four years ago from Long Beach, Calif., where she had to travel out of the city to find inspiration. Now she's inspired every day simply by looking out at Lake Pend Oreille.

"My dream has always been to live in nature," Janusz says. "To look around and paint what you see is very inspirational."

She has named her business Janusz Studio by the Lake, reflecting her studio's location at her home on Highway 200 east of Sandpoint. She is also part-owner of Art Works Gallery in the Old Power House in Sandpoint, where her art is on exhibit. In the summer, she teaches watercolor workshops and gives tours at her studio, where she also welcomes visitors.

Janusz, 52, said she looked around the Northwest for about five years, searching for a place that felt right. That feeling swept over her as she crossed the Long Bridge into Sandpoint. "It was magical," she says. She also felt reassured by knowing Sandpoint is home to many artists, and that the town supports the arts. It turned out to be a good move, for her business has done well since she arrived here.

"I wish I would have moved here years ago," Janusz says.

Not only has she had more time to paint, she's also had more opportunity to pursue outdoor ventures; camping and hiking in the backcountry, mountain biking and skiing. Her lifetime of outdoor pursuits and love of nature are woven into her paintings. The landscapes in her paintings are typically made-up places compiled from many scenes stored in her memory ­ what she calls her painting "databank" ­ and backed up with photographs.

And as a painter, she finds she notices more in nature. "It's amazing how much more you see when you know you're going to paint it," she says. "I paint what I feel connects with me in my heart."

A former high school teacher, Barbara quit her job and traveled for a year in Europe. By the time she came back, she was ready to devote her professional life to painting. Although she trained in oils, she fell in love with the transparent qualities of watercolor, and found them to be more expressive of her personality.

Her paintings reflect her love of vibrant colors ­ purples, greens, blues and pinks. Her favorite painting, "Paradise," is full of green foliage with purplish berries entwined in front of a cascading waterfall and sparkling pool. The large format painting won a Gold Medallion Award at the 1993 Rocky Mountain National Water Media Exhibition.

Barbara plans to improve her own slice of paradise. She plans to add a pond and three waterfalls to her landscaping. She loves the seasons, and even the record-breaking snowfall last winter was fine by her. It gave her more time to ski and made for awe-inspiring landscapes that she can add to her painter's databank. It's one that has grown in megabytes since moving here ­ and promises many paintings to come.

­ Billie Jean Plaster

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