With an artist mother (Dolores Dorothy Krause Arnesen), Jan Eric was exposed to art from an early age. She encouraged him to draw and paint and took him frequently to the Munch Museum in Oslo and to the National Gallery. He loved to visit these museums and felt a strong connection to the art and the artists. At home he would spend hours looking through art books that his parents had bought in New York when his father worked for the United Nations. By the time he reached the age of ten he had been exposed to most of the French impressionists and particularly to the two post impressionists, Van Gogh and Gaugin. Many of the paintings and drawings Jan Eric produced at this age were copies of these artists. But, living most of his youth in Oslo, and continuously visiting the Munch Museum it was only natural that Edvard Munch became his strongest influencer in his younger days. Later in life he learned to enjoy many different artists and many forms of expression and today his favorite artists are X-an Krohn, Axel Törneman, Egon Schiele, Édouard Vuillard, Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Hélion, Georges Braque and Andy Warhol whom all have influenced him greatly.
When Jan Eric reached the age where he had had to choose a career, he contemplated becoming an artist but conscientiously chose to study law and political science for two years before he decided to become a chiropractor. During his working years he never forgot his passion, continuously visiting art museums and art galleries all over the world and slowly starting to buy and collect artwork with the means he had available. On two occasions he started to paint again and seriously contemplated becoming an artist, but his fear of not succeeding made him choose security over his calling. Only at the age of 63 did he start to paint full time and now works at a furious pace in his two ateliers at Nesodden outside Oslo, a small atelier at his cabin in the mountains and in his garage in Mougins, France.
«When I choose technique or motif, I choose what speaks to me. In the beginning I would paint something that I thought people would like and it was a disaster.»
My art is about what I feel, Jan says. I call it post impressionistic expressionism. When I start a painting, I am excited, but as soon as I have put down the first brush stroke, I am working hard not to ruin what I have started. Sometimes it feels as if I am going towards disaster, but moments later this feeling is replaced with joy and then again, disaster. Until the painting is done, I cannot think about anything else. The painting is talking to me, telling me what to do, pushing me, and I am struggling hard to understand what it wants from me. Many times, I succeed in saving it, and giving it what it wants, but sometimes I don't know what to do and these “failures” make a great substrate for my next battle. Yes, that is exactly what it feels like, a battle. When I am done, I am exhausted. Still, the first thing that comes to my mind is what I will paint next.
When I choose technique or motif, I chose what speaks to me. In the beginning I would paint something that I thought people would like and it was a disaster. Now I don't think, I just do what I have to do. I know when my mind is distracting me and I also know when I am in flow; that is, when I go from being a painter to becoming “the process that paints”. It is a wonderful feeling, and it gives me great joy.
In 2019, when I started painting again, I thought it was too late, but it's never too late. It's today that counts. My chiropractic career lasted for 30 years and there is no reason this career shouldn't last just as long. I am painting at least one painting per week; that should amount to about 1560 paintings, Jan says with a smile.