Jan Sargeant (JS) often paints under the soubriquet WWS (Woman with Stick) as a reference to the disability caused by Parkinson's Disease. She is largely self-taught, and with absolutely no formal art training. She uses painting to express moods and feelings suggested by places and experiences. Her work falls loosely within the English Romantic/Abstract landscape tradition and her work is described by many as Turneresque. She is an intuitive painter with no knowledge of any art theory or conventions to act as a barrier to her imagination or practice.
She is now already a popular artist with an agent based in London who thinks her work is "highly collectible". Buyers have been enthusiastic about her paintings:
"Your paintings are really powerful."
"You have a wonderful talent."
"My first reaction was visceral - I wanted to lick it."
A couple of your paintings hanging on my wall give me endless pleasure."
JS lives in Newmillerdam, near Wakefield with her husband, Ted and four cats. She studied English Literature at Manchester and later went on to teach English in comprehensive schools. JS was a lecturer in the Institute of Childhood and Education at Leeds Trinity University, and leading the secondary post graduate teacher training course, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2016, and with HNPP shortly afterwards. JS took early retirement because of increasing disability and, having read that art was excellent therapy for Parkinson’s sufferers, took up painting for the first time ever in January 2018. She found painting offered a new meaning and direction in life. Her early attempts were guided and encouraged by her husband, a retired art teacher who is also an artist in his own right.
Her work has an increasing following, and she is both humbled and flattered by the sales of her work; within three months, twenty of her pieces had been purchased and eight gifted to other admirers. The inclusion of her work in an exhibition (Sheffield; December 2018) helped to raise her profile at a national level. A number of her pieces are held in a private collection in London.
Many of the titles she gives to her work are derived from the poetry of T. S. Eliot, of whom she has been a great admirer since her university days. Every painting is accompanied by a short commentary from the artist detailing the background stimulus to the piece. JS feels the narrative behind the painting to be important in understanding her drive to create the image.