Jan Crumpley and Taylor Collins

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Jan Crumpley and Taylor Collins are friends, artists, and entrepreneurs. They have channeled their love of art and history into their paintings and the Parke Green Galleries on State Street by the Green in Dover.

Jan Crumpley:
"We got started painting together in the plein air group. After awhile we said, "You know we have all these paintings. We need a gallery." So we got together with another lady. And we opened up Parke green galleries in November of 2013."

As a painter Jan Crumpley focuses on landscapes.

Jan Crumpley:
"I paint somewhat Impressionistically. I like my palette to have, you know: purples, pinks, turquoise in with the landscape to brighten up the landscape. It's not just green and brown. Even if it is a winter scene I like to have it pop with some colors."

"Well, actually I specialize in historical landscapes - architectural components are really important too. I'm not a portrait painter. That's not what I do. I can paint pet portraits. But I'd a lot rather do a house portrait, that sort of thing."

Taylor Collins creates collages which currently revolve around a theme of love. She says that as a painter she considers herself to be a folk artist - for now.

Taylor Collins:
"I started out doing folk art. My goal was to emulate Jack Lewis who was one of our local icons. He liked painting people of the earth. And that is what I try to do. With my folk art I try to capture the history of Delmarva. All my prints are very colorful and they are of the local scenes and things like that. And then I had a chance to study with Jack for ten or twelve years. And he taught me how to plein air paint. And, he rally taught you how to be an artist."

"You tend to learn all the technical stuff, which I really never got the hang of. I've only been doing this for around thirty years and I still can't draw. One of these days I hope to get a little bit better at that. But he really gave you the inside scoop on what it meant to be an artist and what that entailed. But in the plein air I am getting more and more expressionistic. I am getting away from the Impressionism. You find your way. You really do. You end up… I don't know how to describe it. You go from one thing to the next."

"And I think that's what artists do. You go from one medium to the next and you just keep experimenting. And that is one of the things I learned from Jack. It's not the finished product it's the process. And that's what people get hung up on. They get hung up on the perfection aspect of things. And it's "got to be perfect" and whatever. And, not that there aren't heavy weights in the world. There has to be a Rembrandt and a whatever. A Picasso or whatever. Most of us are light weights. (Laughs) It doesn't invalidate you. You still have something worth contributing and worth saying."

As Jan said at the beginning of our story, outdoor painting brought her together with Taylor. They are part of a regional group of plein air devotees which Taylor helped to get started.

Taylor Collins:
"It just grows on ya. You just want to get out there and try stuff and try to get that light. That's what art really is. It's all about painting the light. And so, the early morning is the best, I think, the late afternoon. Now we paint all over, every week, from about the end of March to the first of November, every Wednesday. And anyone who wants to join us can just follow us on Facebook. And, they're welcome to come any time they want."

Jan Crumpley:
"You really do meet a lot of nice people. It's really fun to get artists that are studio artists and trying to talk them into coming out and trying plein air."

Taylor Collins:
"I helped found the group that we are in now: the Plein Air Painters of the Mid Atlantic. And we started out with four of us Maria Bissette, Donna Hanson, and Diane Bower, and myself. And since then it has grown to about fifty people. We're on Facebook. And we have one rule. It's called "No Rules." Because we've all done non profits, and all that; and this is just about us and painting."

Jan Crumpley:
"We don't offer instruction. That's another thing that it is important to point out. We're not going to teach you how to do it. You have to bring some skills to the table yourself. But actually nothing beats seeing other people doing it right away. So we have seen some younger or less experienced artists come along in the process and so now they are doing some really great work."

If you think you would like to join the Plein Air Painters of the Mid Atlantic visit their Facebook page and to find out more about the artwork of Jan Crumpley and Taylor Collins.

But you will definitely want to visit Parke Green Galleries in Dover, which features Jan and Taylor's work and that of other local artists specializing in historical landscapes and American folk art. Jan also runs the Delaware Store which is at the far end of their galleries showcasing Delaware themed gifts and memorabilia. The gallery and gift shop are located in a building dating to the 1820's which bears the distinction of being the original Golden Fleece Tavern, which acted at the same time as both a pub and as the seat of government for Delaware from 1777 to 1791.

I recently visited artists Jan Crumpley and Taylor Collins at the Parke Green Galleries on State Street by the Green in Dover. They shared some stories about that neighborhood's local history. Click here to hear that story.