April 2021
Jeanette Bill-Cole


I have been an artist since I was a teenager in the 1970s. I originally worked in oils and acrylics. I studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art. About 20 years ago I decided to focus on watercolors because it allowed me flexibility and quick bursts of creativity. I could pick up and put down the work, which fit my needs as a mom with two small children at home.

My subjects are the things I enjoy and that also carry a sense of history. I have studied and painted carousel figures carved by the Dentzel Company, especially those found at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. I also enjoy the delicacy and the beauty of flowers. I feel that watercolors are an ideal medium to describe them, because watercolor paint can be layered and the medium can express the transparency and fragility of flowers.

In the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to visit several countries in Europe: southern Poland near the Slavic border, Tuscany and Florence in Italy, and Provence and Paris, France. These places often make ideal pictures of fleeting and inspirational moments in time. I also enjoy photographing and painting lighthouses in our Lake Erie region.

The paintings I identify with are those that convey impressions rather than exact descriptions. As a child I admired the bold sketches of Rembrandt and I still relate more to an expressive and spontaneous work than to a detailed photo-realistic style.  But at the same time, I like to describe the visual with fidelity to the natural world including light, shadows and form. I also like to explore color relationships and watercolors are a great media for that.

I hope that the viewer can find inspiration, energy and a love for nature in my work!

Website: www.jeanettebillcole.art

How has joining a visual arts group has helped you as an artist?

In midlife I found I wanted to join and be a part of artists organizations. I’ve taken many painting classes or participated in shows at Brecksville Center for the Arts, Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, Cliffside Arts Community, Bay Arts Center and the Ohio Watercolor Society. I continue to meet special people, both instructors and fellow participants. I joined the Ohio Watercolor Society to push my skills forward and challenge myself to enter their annual show competition. They have bimonthly mailings that give me things to think about as well. Becoming a part of an artist’s community is important for anyone who feels even a glimmer of artistic spark!

What was the most challenging drawing/painting you have ever attempted, and why it was so?

I like to attempt things that are outside my comfort zone. When I start on the painting, there usually comes a point where I’m not sure if I’m going to fall on my face. Sometimes I do! Fortunately, because watercolor is a quickly painted medium it allows you to redo failed paintings, several times if necessary. That makes me willing to attempt things I might avoid in another medium. I learn more from the failures than the successes so I no longer fear heading out on a limb. I know I’ll learn something good and feel more confident when I approach the next painting. Challenges can be the size you attempt. I’ve done a few full sized 20×30 watercolors but they’re expensive to frame!  Challenges can be attempting a technique I’m unsure of. I’m still working out how to paint water and reflections, as well as lighting effects.  Challenges can also be something you accomplish against a deadline, whether for a class or a competition.

Jeanette Bill-Cole ‘Marble Head
Jeanette Bill-Cole ‘Sunflowers

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