With paintings titled “A Path Through The Ocean” and “Azalea Frolic” and original jewelry designs cheekily called “Cascade Over Grey Stones at the Forrest Edge” and “Wisteria Under Full Moon,” it’s no surprise that artist Jan B. Neff’s work is inspired by the abundant and diverse nature of Northeast Florida.
Born in Rhode Island, Neff moved to the Nation’s Oldest City in 1995 to establish a jewelry store with her husband, Dan. Together, the couple owns Neff Jewelers on Rohde Avenue.
Jan Neff earned a fine-art degree from Wright State University and a teaching certification from Antioch College — both in Ohio — and can be found representing original paintings and jewelry designs at most Uptown Saturday Night’s at the gallery. Compass caught up with Neff to chat about her various forms of visual art. Here’s part of that conversation.
Compass: How do you typically describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
Jan Neff: A love of nature and the sea and the unique and wonderful atmosphere of St. Augustine inspire my paintings in oil and pastel. I’ve worked in plein air and also in my studio where I paint from photographs that I take. I’ve also taken St. Augustine Art Association classes in portraits and drawing from life and occasionally participate in life-drawing classes held there on Monday evenings.
Compass: You’ve been a longtime member of the St. Augustine Art Association. How has that impacted your work as a local artist?
J.N.: I’ve been a member of STAAA since 1995. I show my work there regularly and have served in various administrative capacities on a volunteer basis. Upon relocating to St. Augustine, I taught the children’s after-school art class for several years.
Compass: You’re also a certified gemologist. Tell me about that.
J.N.: I studied for and received a graduate gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America and a certified gemologist degree from the American Gemological Institute after coming into the jewelry business. The degrees train individuals to identify gemological materials and their origins and appraise jewelry for insurance replacement and estate value.
Compass: What are your other responsibilities at Neff Jewelers?
J.N.: I’m also the jewelry buyer, and I’m responsible for the appearance of the shop. I also design some jewelry.
Compass: Tell me about your original designs.
J.N.: I handcraft bead necklaces with nature as an inspiration — deciding on an inspirational theme and meditating on this theme as I create the pieces. Nature is always the theme, whether it is a starry night or a cascading waterfall in a quiet glen. I create limited edition pieces each year and price them based on the gemstones included in each piece. I only work with natural gemstones, which is important to note.
Jan Neff’s artwork can be found on display at 7 Rohde Avenue Gallery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and during Uptown Saturday, which is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. the last Saturday of each month.
For information, call 829-5003 or go to neffjewelers.com.