How Gallerist, Artist, and Tonalist Jan Schmuckal Gets it all Accomplished

Painting All Night

blog by @schulmanArt, Miriam Schulman

Jan Schmuckal is tonalistpainter on eBay

How long have you been an artist?

Like most artists, I’ll say that I was always doing some sort of art project as long as I can remember… but when I went to the University of Illinois in 1986 to gather knowledge I got my BFA in Industrial Design. At that point my medium was either markers, drafting pencils and vellum or lumber, metal, welding equipment and industrial machinery. I began painting after working as a designer. I took some painting workshops as my yearly vacations, and then took some classes at an art studio. I have studied, briefly, with some artists of note. My background as a designer makes it easy for me to understand how things are accomplished, and assimilate concepts easily. I spent over 12 years in that industry doing POP, product, store fixture and furniture design as a head designer. When I left that industry, I had already started painting to get a creative outlet from my creative job (those of you who have creative jobs know what I am talking about) and I got my work into downtown Chicago galleries pretty quickly, so that more or less told me I should maybe, just maybe, be doing something else besides designing.


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What does your studio look like?

Through a number of twists and turns, I ended up looking for a space to sell my work and perhaps paint in the back, which led me to purchase the house I now have. I spent over 4 years building additions and remodeling the 1895 house with my Dad and one other guy…. have done everything from excavation and concrete to electrical, painting, plumbing, etc. I converted the entire first floor into a gallery space. There is a cathedral ceiling studio addition in back of the garage, which, currently as I am sitting in it, looks like a bomb went off in here…. but it is awfully nice to have.  It would be awesome if I could get the mess out of here – most of it is gallery storage, though. One day…. sigh. But, I have a garden outside the window. I have a 700 sq foot space with it’s own bathroom, furnace, Ikea cabinetry, and two deep bowl sinks, cathedral ceiling, and it looks out onto a garden that I need to get out and weed…. I have one big Santa Fe easel, a framing table, and a lot of storage – but most of the storage contains gallery stuff.


Learn more about the artist on her website!

That’s incredible that you have your own gallery, tell us more about that!

The gallery has been open since 2005, and I have over 200 artists, musicians, fine craftspeople and designers that I represent. A lot of the work is locally made. There are a LOT of artists around here, and no galleries left, so my gallery is more a labor of love and wanting to give people a place to sell their work where it can be seen than a money making venture – it has never paid me a dime. How do I make a living, you might ask? I sell my own work online. Since I have other artists I represent, I try very hard not to have a focus on my own work, as I am representing their work. I try to only have a couple of pieces of my own in the gallery, at most, at any given time. Sometimes I have none of my own work in the gallery.  Having other artists work here in the gallery has also been a wonderful education.

Why do you sell work online if you have your own gallery?

I have been selling my work online since 2006, when it became abundantly apparent to me that the gallery was not going to be anything to provide me a living. I started selling on ebay, like most online artists, and had relatively good success. Since I also run the gallery, the time I have to produce my art is limited, and I end up working a lot at night into the early morning. I try to sell everything I produce for the week during the week, and so far (knock on wood) that has worked out.

11 thoughts on “How Gallerist, Artist, and Tonalist Jan Schmuckal Gets it all Accomplished”

  1. Besides creating awesomely beautiful paintings, this artist can swing a hammer! Nice interview and insights into a real Renaissance Woman.
    I like to listen to music while I paint, from classic to jazz and good old rock and roll, mixing it up depending on my mood. Sometimes I listen to the sounds of Silence.

  2. Wow! Jan you are one busy lady who happens to paint very lovely canvases…and isn't afraid to dig in to try your hand at remodeling as well!
    Books on tape are great while painting, sometimes music and even a video….but quite often it's just very nice to listen to silence and a calm mind.

  3. I listen to audiobooks too! (don't tell my book group, they might think it's cheating) I also like to read and listen to the same book– so I can take the book with me on the train and listen in the studio– right now I am reading and listening to the memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton.

  4. I also like to listen to audiobooks, music or re-runs of television shows that don't require me to look up — anything from the original “Star Trek” series to “Lost.” Thanks for this article on Jan and her work!


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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