Jane Troup lives on 275 acres located on the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri, and adjacent to the Mark Twain National Forest. She finds inspiration for her paintings from the natural environment but also inflects her own imaginative and Surrealist spin on the landscape, citing René Magritte and Henri Rousseau as influences. Here, she discusses her path to becoming an artist, the symbolism of nature, and how she conceptualizes a two-dimensional canvas.
“I grew up in the country and always went outside on my own. Nature is where I love to be. There’s something about being away from the city and cars that helps quiet my mind and allows me to delve deeply into my inner world, thoughts, and connections with the land. I become so connected to nature that when I’m in it, it’s bliss. My husband spends all his time making trails and treating our acreage like a park. I’m grateful for how he takes care of our land. Where we live in Missouri is hilly—we don’t have a lot of flat space here.
In my work, nature has become a symbol for what I want to say. A lot of times, I’m not painting from a landscape that exists but using elements that I see in nature to arrange the composition like a story. It’s more like how a writer would set up a novel. I start to describe the characters in the scene—each element and entity in the landscape is a character, from the trees to the bushes to the ponds.
I did a painting called The Garden, and in this big work, I wasn’t trying to be realistic. I added five big, purple daisy flowers from an Henri Rousseau painting. When I did that, I realized, ‘Oh my god, we paint the same way!’ I always loved his work and recognized that we view objects similarly. I have to imagine each object’s three-dimensional form to be able to paint it, so in my mind, I have to mentally sculpt or understand whatever it is that I’m painting. I’m the opposite of an Impressionist; I’m a set designer. Magritte is probably my biggest influence—I like the simplicity of how he painted. Unlike Dali, he wasn’t trying to be cool. For Magritte, it was about the subject matter, and he only painted well enough to make the subject matter important. Although I understand that painting is a physical thing, and I want my work to be beautiful, I don’t try to make anything super slick.”