Jan Collins Selman never considered any life other than that of an artist. When she opened her first box of crayons at the age of 7, she fell in love with the unique smell and rainbow colors. “[Painting] is what I’ve always done,” Selman says. “I’d never wondered what I’d do, where I’d be, who I’d be. I never gave it a second thought.”
Selman grew up in Roxbury and South Boston and visited Cape Cod with her family in the summers. She has fond memories of tagging along with her brother, Ron, to paint while he fished.
She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on a scholarship. Early in her career Selman exhibited her work in galleries in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Provincetown, Florida, and England. In 1996, she opened her own gallery in Falmouth.
While she uses watercolors, Selman prefers pastels and oils because they produce deep, intense pigments. “I love saturated color,” she says, “which I think comes from being outside most of my life. Even on a rainy day, the saturation of the grays is unbelievable.”
Selman focuses on color, line, and light, and her paintings often show picturesque Cape Cod landscapes from a different perspective, illuminated by expressive brushwork. Lily pads tremble on a dark and alluring pond. Overgrown shrubs border a peaceful vista of Megansett Harbor. Rainbow-colored flowers along a shore allow fleeting glimpses of a pastel blue ocean beyond. One of the artist’s favorite spots is Provincetown. In the spring and autumn, she’s up before sunrise to make the trek east, where she spends hours painting in the dunes.
Selman’s goal is simple: She wants to show people what she sees. “I have the privilege of going out every day and painting this landscape,” she says. “I hope to be able to share this beauty that I’ve witnessed.”
The artist also cherishes the way painting can capture moments in time. “I’m a record keeper,” she says. “I paint what comes up and what’s going away. It’s amazing what I’ve been able to see over the years, and it’s important to keep a record of these things.” – Lillian Lowe
Jan Collins Selman’s work can be viewed at the Jan Collins Selman Fine Art Gallery at 317 Main Street in Falmouth and Nantucket Artworks at 31 Centre Street on Nantucket, as well as in the permanent collections of the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, the Art Museum Complex in Duxbury, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.