Janet Tifft Arts Heritage Fund

The purpose of the arts domain grant is to engage emerging artists who are working with water-based and related media in a learning experience utilizing the concepts found within archives of Janet’s artwork. The mission is to support and inspire grantees while commemorating and paying forward the artistic gifts of Janet Tifft.

Kat’s Paintings – Janet’s Inspiration

Composite Painting

Janet’s inspiration for her composite paintings came from countless hours of observation and practice merging the images and elements from multiple sources and contexts to create a coherent theme. Her composites have a hint of magical realism. I found this magical experience easy to translate into my version of a composite painting.

In October 2018, I had a business trip to Holbrook, AZ and I booked a room at the Heward House B&B. What an amazing treat and wholly unexpected. I was the only guest that evening and it was like I was living the movie “Night at the Museum.” The Heward House is stuffed, and I mean stuffed, with beautiful art and objects ranging from crystal and a baby grand piano, to cowboy to Mexican, to Native American art. To boot, (pun definitely intended) the house is designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! Linda, the owner, is an engaging and welcoming host.

A Night at the Heward House

Desert Flora/Abstract

The model for “Sonoran Sarcophagus” is a dead Saguaro on the Arizona Trail north of Picketpost Mountain. The ribs had fallen off the top of the downed saguaro and the interior segments were petrified. I’ve seen a lot of dead saguaros but this was the first time I’d seen one with the interior so well preserved. The title and painting are loosely based on Janet’s “Sonoran Senior” a standing dead saguaro surrounded by desert flora. I decided to focus on a close up of the decay which creates an abstract effect.

Sonoran Sarcophagus

Fantasy and the Cosmos

The first time I met Bill, Janet’s husband, he was wearing a black shirt covered with colorful dragons. Dragons were a theme in Janet’s sketchbooks and a few dragon tchotchkes are tucked in places around their residence. Janet also used her artistic skills to illustrate her understanding of Bill’s research. In 2014, William Grant Tifft, Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona, researched and published “Redshift Key to Cosmology,” an historical and controversial approach to Quantum Temporal Cosmology. I took the dragon theme and a few graphs and charts from Bill’s research to create this work dedicated to Janet and Bill and their marriage of 50 years.

Who Doesn’t Love Dragons?


In Quaker City Machine Co., I drew inspiration from Janet’s Florals and a visit to the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago.

Quaker City Machine Co.

Sketchbook Studies and Translation

I used tracing paper to copy Janet’s sketch from a sketchbook and then painted a study using her sketch and my vision of how to paint the scene. I deliberately chose a scene with figures because I don’t usually put figures in my scenes. Janet captured gestures and figures in her sketchbooks frequently.

Janet Tifft Sketch – Figures and Architecture
KMJ study using Janet’s sketch.
Janet Tifft Sketch – Figures and Architecture
KMJ study based on Janet Tifft Sketch
Janet Tifft’s Studio

Spending time in Janet’s studio was an amazing gift. For me, it was getting to know the habits and tendencies of her continual process of experimentation. Perusing her sketchbooks gave me an intimate look into her thoughts, preferences, and love of art.

Janet’s Paintings

Desert Flora; Composite Self Portrait; Architecture with figures

Janet’s Sketchbook

Janet’s Palettes

Janet’s Brushes and Paper

Janet did not seem too particular about brushes. She had a collection of the various types that you might expect an artist to possess, but nothing fine or expensive. She had a very nice collection of a variety of watercolor papers.

JT Bruhes Papers

4 thoughts on “Janet Tifft Arts Heritage Fund

  1. Love what you’ve done. Having been formally trained in Botony it was cool seeing illustrations of plants and their different reproductive parts.
    I also loved your interpretation of Mrs Tifft’s artwork and its evolution into your own fantastical paintings with very lively color and form.
    Nice work Kat!


  2. Is Janet Tifft s note book published? She was my first teacher in Tucson. I took lessons and critiques. We also had adventures plein aire painting on Mt. Lemmon.. I often
    N think about her, especially when painting rocks.


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