A native Californian, Jan Wagstaff was born and raised in the town of Larkspur in Marin County. Inheriting her creative genes from a grandfather who was a San Francisco artist and architect, Wagstaff learned to paint as a young girl, attempting to copy his watercolors. She also studied and danced classical ballet until her early twenties.
Wagstaff received her formal art training at Oakland’s renowned California College of the Arts, where she earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in textiles. For eight years after graduating, she directed a progressive textile department combining weaving and painting on woven canvases at California State University Chico.
In 1983 Wagstaff took a break from her professorship and began designing women’s clothing under the label JWag & Co. in Carmel. She then returned to arts education as an instructor of drawing and painting at York School in Monterey – a position she still holds. Throughout this time she has actively contributed to local professional and community organizations, including service as president of the Board of Directors for both the Cultural Council for Monterey County and the Carmel Art Association, with whom she has been an Artist Member since 1996.
Over the past four decades Jan Wagstaff’s paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries world-wide and acquired for private and public collections around the globe. Her artwork has garnered extensive reviews, and she has been awarded numerous Artist-in-Residence opportunities, grants, fellowships and prizes.
Wagstaff’s imagery derives primarily from nature, which she renders in oil on canvas. She is especially drawn to marshland grasses, aspen canopies, birds in flight, waterways and reflections. Says Jan, “As I observe the natural world, I am ever conscious of how I am experiencing it – how all of my senses play a part in my perception. My work is about seasons, sounds, texture, movement and shapes. It is about blending colors, subtleties of light and dark, and things near and far. About seeing and celebrating the ordinary such that it becomes extraordinary. My paintings are visual entertainment but even more, I hope they encourage viewers to recall places that hold special meaning to them.”