Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Janna Watson

Artists around the world trust Tri-Art products when creating their works of art. Today, we feature Janna Watson, a painter from Toronto, who uses our Finest Quality High Viscosity and Liquid Acrylics lines.

[Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and flow]

Portrait of Janna Watson

Tri-Art (TA): Tell us a little about yourself.

Janna Watson (JW):  I am an abstract painter who lives and works in Toronto.  I graduated from OCAD in 2008 and soon after signed with Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto & Vancouver.


My practise over the last 10 years has really been a process of self reflection.  I am always looking to develop and challenge my techniques, and to understand the relationship of colour, as well as its relationship to the world. My foundation comes from spontaneity, intuition and materiality, and how these basic fundamentals explore the psychology of colour.


There is a “becoming” about painting that I deeply relate to. The quality of pigments and texture is pivotal to my work and that is why I use Tri-Art paint. Certain brands of paint in the last 10 years have changed their quality and even diminished the saturation of pigment in some of my most used colours. But I have discovered from my own experimentation that Tri-Art’s quality has always remained the same. The materiality of paint is one of the key factors to my success.


I live with my cat White Cat, my dog Anouk, and my fiancée Pamela.  I own a rug design company, Studio Watson, that is dedicated to redefining interiors with hand-tufted floor pieces inspired by my favourite paintings. My greatest inspiration in life is colour.

Everything is Spicy, a painting by Janna Watson
Everything is Spicy, Janna Watson, 2020

TA: What inspires you as an artist?

JW: I am inspired by the relationships that colours have to each other.  Colour holds so much emotion and power.  Some colours vibrate beside each other. Some colours balance each other.  And some colours create tension.  What I love about colour is that there are no rules.  Nature gives us so many colours and it is so inspiring.  You think about nature colours as being earthy, but then you see a sunset with fluorescent pinks and purples and yellows and the way lighting affects everything.  It is constantly creating new moods and forever changing.  I love how colour has the power to manipulate emotions like that.  



TA: How has your creative process changed throughout your career?

JW: My creative process has changed because I understand my materials better.  I have painted most days for the last 12 years, so over time I have learned to understand my pigments and the materials that I work with.  

A Scratch of Juniper Berry, a painting by Janna Watson
A Scratch of Juniper Berry, Janna Watson, 2020

TA: What Tri-Art products and colours do you like working with the most?

JW: I love all Tri-Art colours but particularly appreciate the whites.  I love Warm White and Titanium White and use Liquid white in my big swoops.  I have tried many different brands of white liquid acrylic paint, but Tri-Art really works best for me. It flows smoothly, consistently, and it holds its pigment without being overpowering.  I have often found with other brands that their whites swallow up my pigment, but Tri-Art allows the pigment to stick so that each colour/layer can be “equal players”. I essentially identify paint and pigment as two separate entities, and I’ve learned to appreciate & manipulate their presence independently and coincidingly. 


For example, when I use Tri-Art’s Red and Paynes Grey, their tones disappear into a black tone because their tones are balanced. Similarly, when I add a properly pigmented Titanium White, the magic of the white pulls its pigment back to life.  It’s kind of like pulling thread through a weaving machine, so that you can see the individual threads as opposed to just a mess of wool.  Tri-Art’s Titanium White is a favourite of mine; high quality and is balanced properly. It lets colours pull through like threads as opposed to swallowing them up.  

Q's Machine, a painting by Janna Watson
Q's Machine, Janna Watson, 2020

TA: How do you start a painting?

JW: I choose my palette…  and I paint the shapes in my mind.  I don’t have a sketch pad but I will look at my canvas for a while and plan it out.

TA: Do you always like your pieces? What happens if you decide you don’t like one?

JW: I don’t always like my paintings.  If I don’t, I leave it and come back to it days later with “fresh eyes”. If I don’t know how to continue, I leave it and move on. 


TA: How do you decide when a painting is finished?

JW: The feeling that it is balanced comes to me.  I leave it out so that I can look at it while I’m in a different head space.  If there’s nothing else I “see” then it is done. 

Lil'Bit Wiggly, a painting by Janna Watson
Lil'Bit Wiggly, Janna Watson, 2020

TA: What memorable responses have you or others had to your work?

JW: Several times I’ve been told that I “paint like a man.” 


TA: If you could change one thing about the art industry, what would it be and why?

JW:  More women getting the recognition they deserve.  The industry is still highly run by white male artists.  

Thanks to Janna for sharing her thoughts about her art! You can find out more about her paintings and upcoming exhibitions at