Janis Casco Blayer’s paintings begin with an emotional attachment.It could be a place that holds special memories or a person with an offbeat look that makes her want to pick up her paintbrush and capture the mystery of the moment on canvas.
Blayer is the featured artist at a show opening Friday at Valley Art Center in Clarkston, where she graduated from high school in 1973. While Blayer now lives in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, she grew up in Orofino and Clarkston and often visits the area. When she does, she continues to be inspired to paint its scenery in her loose, impressionistic style.
“Everyone has their own way of interpreting something,” said Blayer, who is in Clarkston to attend Friday’s reception.
The best advice she ever got from a teacher was, “keep your own voice and paint from your heart. Don’t feel that, because you’re not a realist, people won’t find something desirable.”
The show includes many scenes from Clarkston and Orofino, most of which were painted in the last year during the COVID-19 shutdown, Blayer said. She paints from memory, from photographs she takes and in plein air.
Blayer’s father taught band in Orofino and Clarkston. Her mother is the person who inspired her to paint, she said. Blayer studied art at Washington State University and with a number of internationally recognized artists. The show includes a few scenes from Hawaii, where she relocated in 1979 with a doctor’s prescription to move to a warmer climate as a way to live with Raynaud’s disease, a rare autoimmune disorder. She lives there with her husband Jeff.
Her subject matter has varied over the years, but Blayer’s favorite things to paint are animals, landscapes and local folk. Despite living in Hawaii for more than 40 years, scenes from Western life continue to populate her work.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Art by Janis Casco Blayer.
WHEN: Opening reception, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.
WHERE: Valley Art Center, 842 Sixth St., Clarkston.
OF NOTE: The show runs through Oct. 31. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.