About Jan

Jan Thomas, Plein Air Pastel PainterWhile vacationing by car in 2005 and mesmerized by the passing landscapes of hills, valleys, farms and trees, Jan Thomas knew that she needed to find a way to leave her corporate marketing job and start working toward her true ambition to be a painter. Since that day Jan has immersed herself in the study and practice of painting. She began with the basics, taking landscape painting classes in oils. Eventually she moved from the classroom to outdoors, and discovered the freedom and challenge of working en plein air. “There is a sense of direct communication with nature when working outdoors,'” she says.  “It’s like a loving relationship, requiring insight, understanding, responsiveness, endurance and sometimes forgiveness.”

A pastel workshop with Clark Mitchell opened up a new world of painting possibilities. Further studies with Mitchell, Kim Francher Lordier, Gil Dellinger and others helped develop her pastels.  Professional art competitions offer challenges to stretch her talent, and her paintings have won many awards including several Best of Show in regional exhibitions. In 2013 she earned the President’s Award in the Pastel Society of the West Coast’s Pastel USA International Exhibition, and in 2014 she was awarded Signature status in the same organization.

Current work reflects Jan’s attraction to changing light, notably at dawn and sunset. “The subtlety of close value shifts in the ground plane contrast with the brightness of daybreak or sunset, require great sensitivity, observation and balance,” she says. Her paintings have been described as evocative, sensitive, soulful, peaceful—qualities she claims to feel when a painting is going well.  “That’s when I feel successful,” she says, “when my painting transmits my emotions to a viewer.


B.A. with Distinction, Graphic Communications: San Diego State University

Ongoing Education:

  • Katherine Plank – pastels
  • Marsha Connell – oils & pastels
  • Clark Mitchell – pastels
  • Ken Auster – oils
  • Jeanette le Grue – oils
  • Kim Lordier – pastels
  • Kathleen Dunphy – oils
  • Gil Delinger – pastels
  • Charles Becker – oils