“In high school it was either art or math,” Jankauskas says. “What parent wouldn’t want math?” So her parents pushed her to study math, which morphed into civil engineering at Lafayette College. As fate would have it, her first boss, Narendra Amin, was an artist and coaxed his mentee to explore that side of her creativity as well.
When Jankauskas had a son and, two years later, twins, she discovered they needed more time than she realized. “I liked staying home,” she says. “I didn’t want to go back to engineering.” A brush with serious illness brought clarity. “I didn’t want to wait until I retired to do art.”
She took art classes at Bucks County Community College, where the instructor recommended a class in PhotoShop. Her sister, a graphic designer, suggested graphic design as a career move, one compatible with being a stay-at-home mom.Jankauskas built a career for herself, two, actually — on two separate websites, one for fine art, one for graphic design and web developing. She utilizes both sides of her brain in one office/studio, with an easel set up across from two large computer monitors, custom-made drapes that block the sun glare on the screens or lift to allow natural light to pour in.
Her fine art is no more restricted than her career path. She cut her teeth on watercolors, but that didn’t stop her from delving into oils. “I’d always wanted to oil paint, so I made time for it. If you don’t make time for something, you won’t do it.”
Representational pieces are the bulk of her work, with influence from Impressionism and Cubism. She loves to play with color. She paints en plein air and still life with friends (“We call ourselves the Painters Collective.”) on a regular basis but also used several photographs to create a holiday card. (“We weren’t all skating [on her parents’ pond] in one photo.”) She’ll sell a painting that hung in her family room for so long that her husband and grown children were perturbed when told it wouldn’t return. (“People like pigs. It was a happy pig.”) Yet, promises other pieces hanging in their Middletown Township home won’t be sold. (Indicating a colorful Cubist-style sun with ample attitude hanging over the family room fireplace, her husband, Joe, says: “She also threatened to sell that one, too.”)
She shares a sly smile at her perceived dichotomy, because in her mind, there is none. “I love doing [computer graphics and web design]. It’s not like work,” she says in nearly the same breath as “I couldn’t not paint.”
Jemison would understand. As the astronaut/dancer says: “science provides an understanding of a universal experience” and “arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience.” Says Jemison, “They’re all part of us, all part of a continuum.”
Jankauskas is a perfect illustration of that theory.
— Jodi Thompson