People Profile – Janet Mitchell – Believe In Yourself

Janet Mitchell grew up in Teddington in Middlesex, London, drawing and painting from a very young age.

As a child, she attended the local schools, Stanley Road Primary, and Victoria Senior where she excelled  in art and entered many competitions.  Art was always her passion  and Janet wanted to study it as a career.

At 13, Janet applied  for an art scholarship. However, the art school was still recovering after the war and could  only offer places  for five, lucky students. Janet was not one of them. The rejection left her broken-hearted as she always thought that she would grow up to be an artist.

After school  had ended,  Janet got a job working  at Thames Photographic  in East Twickenham, colouring  in seaside postcards with a stencil as they only had black and white film available at the time!

Janet then moved to Woking at 15, where she had a job working  for a man named Charles Dunn who took professional  photographs. She was employed  to colour them in for him. She also started seeing a young lad named Austen.

At 19 years old, Janet was decorating  wine glasses  for a man named John Chapman, and one year later, she got married  at 20 to Austen, her childhood sweetheart.  Janet lived on the farm where Austen worked and they went on to have three children  together.

Janet itched to paint during this time, but be­ing a full time mother kept her hands far too busy.

After her children had grown up, Janet decided to get back into art again, and she joined local art societies, and met colleagues and friends like Alwyn Crowshaw and Shirley Harrell who are now famous within art communities, they encouraged her to paint like she wanted to again and she kept in touch with them over the years.

Janet painted onto furniture and slices of wood for a long time and had a stall on Guildford Bridge, selling her artwork. Come rain or shine, you could see Janet stood there. After one too many days spent stood in the snow, she was fed up. Customers would ask her: “If you can paint like that, why are you wasting your time with wood?”

So, Janet moved on to painting on canvas and didn’t look back. Sometime later, she received an important phone call. It was the BBC on the other end asking her to feature in an advert for their “artist of the year programme”, in which she was photographed painting on an easel in her back garden for their promotional shoot.

Today, Janet’s favourite subject to paint is various animals, on landscapes that she draws from photographs. She theorises this is due to the fact that her childhood bedroom
window overlooked a cow yard. On one occasion Janet spent part of the evening, huddled behind a sheet of hardboard, whilst John Daniels, a professional photographer, helped her take pictures of the badgers eating peanut butter sandwiches! All this just to get the right shot. She was then able to paint the nocturnal animals from the photos she took.

Later on in her journey a friend of Janet’s persuaded her to take up teaching art, and while the idea appealed to her, it took a long time to work up the confidence to get in front of several people and try and teach something that came so naturally to her.

Now, Janet has some students that have been with her for over 20 years.

Janet has an unstoppable urge to paint and has travelled to Africa over 17 times on Safaris taking photos for her paintings. Janet wants to encourage anyone who feels the
same passion for art to come and meet her and her friendly group of pupils for an art lesson. All levels of experience and skill are welcome.

Her paintings, and replicas of her work in the form of greetings cards are also available to buy.

If you have a hobby or skill that you feel life is getting in the way of, don’t give up on it. Like Janet, if you truly love it, don’t be discouraged when you fall down. Try, try again. And believe in yourself, whether you’re 5 or 65.

If you’re interested in contacting Janet about her work or art lessons, her details are below


Janet Mitchell Art Classes,
Village Hall, Monday 2-4pm
Beginners welcome.
Ring and book a class!

01306 627 322
Friendly atmosphere. Tea is provided.

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