A move to an eighty-acre farm in Western Michigan from Detroit suited Janet Richardson Baughman to a tee. She and her three siblings loved country life, and relished the many humorous adjustments to their new surroundings. The one-room schoolhouse she attended, for example, contrasted sharply to her earlier city school. Sports programs had been fairly sophisticated in the city. Rural sports consisted of her teacher piling everyone in her car, including the trunk, and then driving the children to another one-room schoolhouse for games. When Janet reached the sixth grade, a chapter in American history closed because all of the one-room schoolhouses were annexed by the nearest cities, but that unusual educational experience is something Janet fondly remembers.
Growing up in a family that was very artistic, it is not surprising that Janet loved drawing. She and her brothers and sisters would make Christmas decorations for the Christmas tree and had ongoing art projects all year long. Her architect father was an artist in his free time. As the children have become adults, they are all involved in artistic endeavors from carving to sculpture.
Janet's high school years were spent riding and showing her horses. "That was my life," she says. Living on the farm allowed her freedom to indulge her love of animals including the dogs that were so special to her. Active in 4H, Janet became an accomplished seamstress and an excellent cook. She took no art classes in high school although she sometimes helped her father with drafting.
Starting college with the intention of majoring in speech and drama, Janet took an art class only because it was required. She found the art classes so appealing that she took one after another. Eventually, having taken every art class offered, the university had to design independent studies for her.
With her beloved horses back on the farm, Janet discovered a new passion, and that was ceramics. First working as a waitress during college to earn income, Janet later became a Student Assistant and lived at the Ceramics Studio. As an assistant, she would make clay and glazes, fire the kiln, and assist the instructor however she could. At first, she had planned to become a high school teacher, but she was encouraged to earn her graduate degree and pursue her artistic endeavors, in addition to teaching. Janet graduated in 1975 with a BFA in Ceramics and Weaving from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
Following her mentor's advice, she went to Indiana State University in Indiana for her graduate work where she studied under Dick Hay. Demanding, but very laid back personally, he expected a lot from Janet, and she grew from his expectations. She joined the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) which is a ceramics networking organization. It has a national conference each year where ceramists, educators and studio artists meet. She was on the Board of Directors for two years. Janet received her MFA in 1977.
Moving back to Western Michigan, Janet found teaching positions with various colleges and taught art history, ceramics and a myriad of classes. However, she never forgot her mentor's advice, which was to continue her craft. Janet met a businessman/artist, John Baughman, who sold her artwork around the country. Janet bought a studio and her work was selling so well that she no longer needed to supplement her income with teaching. Janet and John had a business relationship for several years until life took one of those magical twists, and their relationship blossomed into much more. Later, the two of them were married.
John and Janet bought acreage and moved to the country. Turning one of their buildings into a studio, the pair became extremely successful influencing them to concentrate only on their artwork and discontinue the sales end of his business.
Janet says it has been very, very good for them and has caused different things to happen. The challenges of commissions make her think in directions that it is unlikely she would have done on her own.
Janet is an extremely talented artist. It is difficult to believe when one sees her pastel, mixed media of pencil, oils and collage landscapes done on paper that this is the same artist that designs and makes very sophisticated and stylized ceramics. The natural beauty that abounds where she lives inspires her artwork. Interestingly, she also derives inspiration from her ceramics for her paintings although the two are quite different in style. Her paintings are stylized and readable, but she does not look for minute detail when she paints. These soft landscapes create a feeling of bucolic peace and serenity although Janet does not consciously paint a message. Janet says of her work, that it is like a dance or conversation in her head, which she expresses through her art.
Janet lives an almost idyllic rural existence with her artist/husband who she says is "the love of her life." They work together everyday, and for them it is the perfect partnership because they compliment one another so well. Together they raise and train horses, and are expecting three foals within a year. In addition, she loves to garden and after the tradition of her grandmother and mother, has a huge vegetable garden. She and her husband love to cook. They enjoy golfing together as well. Their three grown children are still very important in their lives, and Janet sews intricate costumes for her daughter when she shows her horse.
In the future, Janet thinks that living in Virginia with horses and continuing with her art would be perfect. She, along with her husband, would like to spend a summer in Provence, France and find a whole new inspiration for their artwork. And, she continues to look for new avenues to express herself in her ceramics. The passion that Janet has, for the many things she loves, will allow her to translate that into her unique and beautiful artwork for many years to come.
Janet Richardson-Baughman earned her BFA from Central Michigan University and received an MFA in ceramics from Indiana State University in 1977.
After graduation, she taught college and began her studio career. Continuing her ceramic work, she developed a series of elegant vessels, contemporary sculptures and large-scale handmade tiles for wall application. “My work is architecturally influenced,” says Richardson-Baughman, “my father was an architect and I grew up surrounded by line and shape.” Her work is a sophisticated blend of form, color and rhythm and when creating a piece she “visualizes the lines and color as a poem in motion.”
Janet expanded her media to include pastels, mixed media, collage and painting. Her work has been included in many exhibitions and galleries nationally. Her works have also been very successful in the corporate market and her portfolio includes many custom commissioned pieces represented in major corporate art collections
Janet lives her idyllic existence with her husband/artist on a small horse farm in rural Michigan where they also have their studio. They work together everyday in what for them is the perfect partnership.