NoDa Artist at Large: Janis Schneider


Classy, classic, and cultured. Anyone who knows Janis Schneider would attest she fits this description. Nearly any day of the week, you might find her drawing from life at one of the many venues in NoDa, such as the North Carolina Academy of Art or Birdsong Brewing on North Davidson; The Bridge or the Charlotte Art League at 4100 Raleigh Street; or Unorthodox Studio C at the Hart Witzen NoDa Annex.

If you are one of the artists who frequent NoDa’s vibrant and active life-drawing circuit, you will likely recognize Janis from the abundant curls of hair that bounce around her face, her friendly smile accentuated with her signature bright fuchsia lipstick, and her sparkling blue-green eyes. Her outfits are characteristically color coordinated in her favorite hues of violet, blue-green and, no surprise, fuchsia.

While Janis is a familiar face in the NoDa art scene, her art medium is often a surprise. An expert watercolorist, she also works in colored pencils, pastel, and some of the more esoteric mediums such as silver-point and copper-point. “The key to art is to experiment, play, make mistakes, and learn from it all; basically you teach yourself,” she says.

Janis has studied art her whole life, quite literally. She was influenced by her mother, who was an artist. “My mother painted in my room when I was an infant. And I picked it up, ever since I could hold a crayon,” Janis says. “I drew all over the windowsills and walls and my mother didn’t care.” A transplant from New York City (Queens and Manhattan), some of her earliest memories are going to the NYC museums and galleries, such as the 5th Avenue Outdoor Arts Show in the Village and the Museum of Modern Art. “I saw Malevich’s painting White-on-White, and I asked my mother, ‘Why is that a painting?’” she reminiscences.

Growing up, she studied art, ballet, and cello, developing a love for classical music. After private art lessons in her teenage years, she continued her studies at Bennington College in Vermont, and the City University of New York at Queens College. She spent a summer studying Renaissance Art history in Italy. She speaks some Italian and French, as well as a bit of German, as these are the “languages of art history,” she explains.

Janis worked as a secretary until she was able to support herself making a living as a potter. After an accident left her unable to throw clay, she became a textile designer, designing fabric for use in both fashion and home furnishings, with her work sold at major department stores throughout the country. Since her design work often incorporated florals, she studied botanical painting.

This led to teaching botanical illustration at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, drawing and illustration at Central Piedmont Community College in different mediums, as well as watercolor painting at the (now defunct) Charlotte Gallery of Art. Her advice to her students is this: Just do it, and make mistakes!

While Janis has shown her artwork at the National Academy of Design in NYC, and, in the Carolinas, at the Cabarrus Arts Council, Wing Haven, and the Charlotte Fine Art Gallery, she is gearing up to have her very first solo show. As she draws upon her myriad of experiences, she says her inspiration for her show is “flowers—they make me happy. I love the colors and the shapes.” Also incorporated is the “idea of dance, the rhythm and the flows of music.” As a result, she has created a beautiful body of work consisting of colorful floral, vibrant, and lyrical paintings. Amongst the hydrangeas, lilies, and other flora, her black and white cat, Lilia, also makes an occasional appearance. As her solo show approaches, she notes, “I am both excited, and delightedly scared. I feel happy and vulnerable.”

You can see her solo show at The Catalyst, at 255 W. Martin Luther King Blvd., from February 18 to March 27, and contact her for purchasing artwork at Janis.schneider@gmail.com.