Library Gallery: Orinda Art Scene with Painter Jane Raymond

(John Raymond, Photographer)
Artist, Jane Raymond, in her yard next to her painting, Mt. Diablo, finds joy in the natural beauty of outdoor plein air painting and live figure-drawing portraits.

    Orinda artist, Jane Raymond, captures the essence of natural beauty of both landscapes and the human form in her paintings, which are on display at the Orinda Library through Sept. 30.
    Raymond specializes in plein air painting, a French term meaning “open air,” where an outdoor studio is set up directly in front of the subject being depicted. This style requires the artist to embrace the elements, like weather and shifting light that may alter the piece. Raymond finds joy in the process.
    “Plein air is wonderful and challenging because the light is always changing,” she said. “There is an infinite universe where you have to decide what to paint and I always look for what I think is beautiful.”
    Raymond prefers to work with oil paints when she has the time. Life drawing occurs under completely different circumstances as she works indoors with a group and sometimes only has a few minutes to complete her piece before the models take a break.
    In addition to the time constraints, oil paints and turpentine, which she uses as a solvent, can be toxic to inhale, so she occasionally opts for watercolors. Raymond emphasizes each medium has its own challenges and benefits, but she enjoys working through them to create a unique piece each time.
    “I do have a system I wind up working through, but I don’t always work it through in the same order,” said Raymond. “I’ve been criticized for not having a way that I do every painting, but I want each painting to be different.”
    Originally from the East Coast, Raymond moved to the Bay Area with her husband several decades ago to pursue two master’s degrees at UC Berkeley; one in biology, the other in architecture.
    She joined the Berkeley Potters Guild and began remodeling the homes she lived in. Wherever she went and in whatever she pursued, she found a way to incorporate art.
    “I was always interested in structure and making houses better, but mostly it’s about creating a space you want to be in,” she said. “It has a lot to do with lighting and the basic shape and form.”
    Raymond has had an affinity for art for as long as she can remember. She recalls regularly sketching her classmates during grade school and always finding new subjects. The skill also runs in her blood as her great-grandfather was one of the painters of the monumental neoclassical paintings in the Capitol’s rotunda.
    Reflecting on why art has always taken center stage in her life, Raymond said, “Art is what I go back to and do. It relaxes me. It takes my focus.”
    Meet Raymond in person, along with other featured artists, at the Orinda Library Gallery reception on Sept. 9 from 3 – 5 p.m.

Natasha Kaye can be reached at

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