Artist Interview: Janet Sadel

Janet Sadel

This month, I'd like to introduce ARC artist in residence Janet Sadel, Photographer and Interdisciplinary Artist originally from Toronto and now living here in Vancouver. Janet will be opening her studio this upcoming November 2012 for the eastside culture crawl open studios event at the ARC here at 1701 Powell Street, East Vancouver @ Commercial Drive November 16, 17, & 18th, 2012.

Janet and I met when she became a neighbour (2011) living in the ARC (Artist Resource Centre). She’s been involved in many of the group events and exhibits. Over the year, we’ve bonded and become good friends. She is a fairly new arrival to the Vancouver art scene, having lived and worked as an artist in Toronto for many years.

Janet, please tell us tell us about your work.

I’m a Fine Art Photographer. My digital and analog images are of landscapes, scenic views, architectural, botanical, still life and sometimes abstracts. I’ve traveled in France, Mexico, New York City and all over Canada and the U.S.A. – so lots of original and unusual views of interesting places.

My larger prints are always on archival, fine quality papers. I do sell a variety of smaller prints and photo greeting cards as well. I will also shoot commissioned works – for example: Your lovely garden, in it’s best season; A portrait of your home or vacation property.

Currently, I’m working on a few photo series themes: 

1) “Doorways of Commercial Drive”  

2)“Rain Where” – abstracts, showing views of Vancouver and some other places through the filter of a rain-soaked windshield. 

3) Rainforests and Sea Views from BC and Washington State.

Would you share with us some thoughts about your creative process?

I’m a fairly spontaneous and impulsive photographer. I love traveling to and exploring new places to create images that offer a memorable and transportive moment for viewers.

It’s uncanny how I’ll often go in search of unique locations and find that invariably “The shots find me”!

So, the lesson I’ve learned is about how to be fully “open” to all my intuitive senses when I’m shooting in the field.

Can you tell us, how did your passion for this art form began?

I’ve always been a Visual Artist, having worked in every media (from sculpture to video).
My passion for photography came early – my engineer father was a gifted self-taught photographer, who encouraged me in my artistic practice.

For many years I was an Arts Educator (specializing in photography) and through the years of teaching, I always maintained my profile as an exhibiting artist and photographer.
I still teach photography and/or visual art to small classes, in my East Van. studio and in
other education venues.

How do you make time for your art  when it's never urgent nor a priority to take time for your creativity? Where does the dispipline come from to practice. Do you have a ritual? How do you get motivated?

Because I’m a photographer…. “my artistic vision is always with me.” Meaning that, I never “turn it off.” As long as my eyes are open – I’m seeing potential shots. It’s both a blessing and a huge distraction. I could be walking to a dentist appointment, spot a great local garden and loose myself to the moment with any small camera that fits into my bag… then have to make a lame excuse to the dental receptionist about loosing my house keys and having to find them…

I could not live any other way. I’m a confirmed and committed daydreamer! Watching fabulous clouds drift above me is my idea of tuning into all my inner senses and creative energies.

My secret to happiness – is to live fully in the moment and always be prepared to give yourself up to visual beauty… wherever and whenever you find it.

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece?

There is a painting by Rosseau (in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC) – “The Sleeping Gypsy”… I played hookey from high school many Fridays and went straight to  MOMA for the day, just to be able to sit and look for an hour at that image, mesmerized… then look at all the art (Henri Matisse was a favorite) and especially MOMA’S fabulous photo collection. I’d wrap up the day by viewing one of their vintage films from the cinema archives too. What better Fine Art education could I have had?

What are you working on currently?

I’m thinking about showing some of my photos as ART INSTALLATION pieces. That will involve some sculptural presentation that incorporates my photos. Can’t explain why… but the word “miniatures” keeps tempting me. We’ll see where this leads….  My ideas are still “percolating”.

For you, what is the best thing about being and artist?

It’s all about the freedom to think boldly and creatively, to get completely “obsessed” with an original idea and “run with it”.

It’s also about the community of other artists that you affiliate with.

The feeling of isolation that many associate with being an artist, is something very foreign to me. I’m a social person and I often work in creative collaboration with other artists.

For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist?

Of course, one is always challenged to balance creative life and regular every-day existence.
Basic survival issues put the “wolf” squarely at the door.

There is no easy path to becoming an artist.

It’s a life-style choice and a hard one. It takes a special kind of commitment…

How would you define success  for yourself as an artist? What are some successes you have enjoyed thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

Success is simply a matter of waking up each morning, knowing that I’m able to stay on my path to show and share my art with others. The joy is in reflecting on all the good moments that have accumulated to confirm my commitment – there were many, but most of all, I can say that the many artistic talents I have encouraged were the best reward!

Deb, this idea of success is purely relative to one’s inner nature… To be honest, being adaptable to situations/opportunities and to see “outside of the box” have been features of my “success”.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists ?

For Photographers especially:

1)       Concentrate on COMPOSITION, CONTRAST and COMMUNICATION in every shot.

2)      Allow yourself to PLAY  - in any way you wish to define it. It’s important to preserve your sense of play and connect with the child in you.

3)      Never, ever let NEGATIVE CRITICISM affect you. Of course,CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is useful and you can always take it or leave it. DO STAY TRUE TO YOUR CREATIVE PATH.

I am, as you know, a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish yourself and soul… to re-charge your batteries so to speak?

Probably preserve my right to daydream… and look at the world with wonder.

A little yoga in the morning keeps me focused.  Hiking and walking into great landscapes
are always restorative.

I read and write quite a bit too. Certainly, looking at the works of other artists fills me with inspiration.

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

Please take a moment to share with us your experience living in a work/live studio.

Being privileged to live in the ARC (work/live studio) has been the best choice I ever could have made when moving from Toronto in 2011 to Vancouver. It immediately immersed me into an artistic environment – where sharing and collaboration are an everyday experience. 

The friendships and social times are always a great crucible for more learning, planning or just great networking. 

How amazing is that!!?

What can we look forward to this upcoming November at the Culture Crawl. Please share your studio number and any special demos/events you'll be offering.


I will be showing photographic art works, photo-based artworks and perhaps some installation art.

There will be demonstrations and some hands-on activities in doing Hand Tinting of Black and White Photos.
Be sure to sign my guest list and also sign up for my WINTER WORKSHOP SERIES.


Janet, I just loved your answers! Thankyou so much for sharing this with us here! Deb xoxoox