Stuck in bed with four torn ligaments in her ankle, Janie Varisco spent one weekend in summer 2019 watching more than 100 YouTube videos of people pouring copious amounts of paint onto canvases, spinning them around or using blow-dryers to create different effects.
After so much "research" she was ready to try the acrylic pour painting technique herself.
"I'm a creative person," Varisco said. "I always, always, always wanted to be an artist. I wanted to paint. But I can't draw. This is an art I think anybody can do."
So for her wedding anniversary she asked to celebrate with a trip to a local craft store for supplies. Less than three years later, a back patio at their home has been converted into an art room filled with paint of every color, thickness and finish, as well crochet hooks, tongue depressors, spatulas, straws and other tools that might not appear, at first glance, to be for painting.
She uses the giant tongue depressors to mix and scoop paint. Crochet hooks and wooden skewers allow her to manipulate the wet paint to include swirling details. She uses large straws and her own breath to blow ripples into the paint or create a circular center for what will become a multicolored bloom.
Varisco continues to follow YouTubers for new ideas and inspiration. She credits them with the many techniques she's learned and tweaked as well as the different formulas she's tested and jotted down in notebooks.
Adding alcohol ink and powdered pigment bring forth different results, as does a change in the amount of latex paint additive or silicone oil. She's discovered it all through trial and error, which she calls "play."
"You've got to play," she says as she starts a new modified bloom project.
Art as therapy
Varisco was a wedding planner for more than 20 years before she retired. She's used to being in control and organizing down to the last detail. That's not how paint-pour works. She has to let go and let the paint fall where it will.
"If I don't like it, it's not a mistake. It's just the way it came out," she said.
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She finds the process therapeutic.
"It cleans the cobwebs in your brain," Varisco said. "Other parts of me are all turned off when I'm in this room."
Creating blooms, her latest obsession, allows her a little more influence over the elements. She pours the paint and then manipulates it with her blow-dryer or plastic straw.
She's learned to paint leaves and other embellishments and to create her own videos. She posts 3-minute time lapse videos of her process on TikTok, where she's garnered hundreds of followers.
The 60-year-old is getting used to jumping into new challenges. Two years ago she wrote a book and has built a following and customer base with her art, although she's adamant it's not a career. That would take away the play of it all, she says.
"I tell people, mostly women, don't be afraid to try something no matter your age," Varisco said. "Who says I can't be somebody at 60 years old?"
Contact children's issues reporter Leigh Guidry at Lguidry@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @LeighGGuidry.