Born and bred in WA, former biology teacher Jan Pittman has been interested in wildflowers for many years, and is a long-time member of the Eastern Hills Branch of the Wildflower Society of WA. She is also a member of the Watercolour Society of WA, the Botanical Art Society of Australia, and the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. She also participates in the Mundaring Hills Open Studios, in October each year.
Jan started doing botanical art, concentrating on watercolours, around 15 years ago. She finds lots of inspiration in the native plants on her property in Gidgegannup, but also paints children, shells, animals and birds, including frogs, feathers, dogs and the occasional eagle skull. She teaches classes from time to time, through the Wildflower Society, and also locally through various community groups.
She has won prizes at various local shows, including the Best in Show at the Gidgegannup Show (several times), the Northam Show and the Kalamunda Show, and had paintings selected for the Royal Show’s Rural Art Award five times. In 2010 she was asked by the then Premier, Colin Barnett, for permission to use one of her paintings (of Nuytsia floribunda, the WA Christmas tree) on his Christmas cards – she was happy to agree, and was acknowledged on the back of the cards. Again in 2015, he used (with permission) another of her paintings, of Eucalyptus erythrocorys (red-capped gum) for his Christmas cards.
In 2012 one of her paintings, of a pair of binoculars which belonged to her great-grandfather, a sea captain, plus shells he collected on his travels, was a finalist in the Mortimore Prize for Realistic Painting. In 2018, another of her paintings, entitled “Woodie? Or Woodie Knot?”, of sculptural pieces of wood found in the bushland, was a finalist in the inaugural Splash Contemporary Watercolour Award, sadly she didn’t win the $30,000 first prize, but she travelled to Melbourne for the award announcements, and enjoyed seeing the exhibition.
Jan has travelled to China, Italy and India with other members of the Watercolour Society, for classes and exhibitions of their watercolour paintings.