Artist Spotlight: Janell Hammer

PSEO student works toward transferring to Hamline as a junior

Janell Hammer, 17, is a junior at Hastings High School in Hastings, Minnesota. Janell is also completing her first semester as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student at Inver Hills Community College.

Janell is on track to graduate from high school and Inver Hills in 2020 before transferring to Hamline University as a junior to study graphic design, art education and/or a foreign language, most likely French.

“I would really like to study abroad in France or Belgium,” said Janell, a talented artist studying painting and drawing at Inver Hills. She can see herself making a career teaching art in a French-speaking country. “I love the French language along with French culture, art and music.”

Janell built a connection with Belgium through a painting series she based on the Belgian singer, Loïc Nottet, who finished second in the 2014 season of The Voice Belgique and fourth representing Belgium in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, which featured contestants from 39 other countries.

How I found Loïc Nottet

It was my first semester math final during my sophomore year, 2017 if I am doing the math correctly. I was listening to music on YouTube after I finished my test. I knew most songs that played, up until Loïc’s that is. I was blown away by his voice right away, the song that played was called “Million Eyes.”
As cheesy as this is about to sound, I was just about moved to tears while I was sitting at my desk that day. Not only was I blown away by his vocals and the song in its entirety, but the video added a whole new layer and atmosphere to the song.
The video was simple, but Loïc’s choreography was full of emotion. I had never seen something similar to it before and I was hooked. From that point forward, I followed Loïc and his journey. He continues to inspire me with my art every day.
Janell Hammer, Artist and PSEO Student
Inver Hills Community College

Janell Hammer gallery

The gallery above features some of Janell’s favorite pieces…

“The bright blue painting of the back [drummer] is actually the very first time I worked with oils back in…2015–16??” she said. “I can’t quite remember when haha. They were pretty cheap and hard to work with at the time, which is why I turned back to acrylics.

“Investing in nice paints definitely makes a HUGE difference, which I noticed with the close-up of Loïc [second row middle image; #2 in Janell’s Loïc Nottet Series]. So much so that I don’t think I will be going back to acrylics for a good while, that is, besides using them for underpaintings and such.”

Also included above is #3 in the Loïc Nottet Series; the all beige/cream painting (last in the gallery) is in progress.

More about Janell…

Janell’s mom, Trisha, works for the Hastings School District; her dad, Lance, works for Flint Hills Resources. Janell has one brother, Jacob, 19, a Hastings High School graduate who also works for the Hastings School District. Janell’s grandmother, Elaine, is a retired naturalist, who worked at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Janell reported that her entire family is very supportive of her and her art.

Janell loves cats and she has plenty of them: Toby is a 6-year-old Ragdoll; Lucky and Rusty are outside shelter cats who have their own heated shed; Millie, 1.5, and Charlie, 1, are indoor shelter cats and the newest members of the Hammer family.

Janell helps out washing dogs for her neighbor, who owns a grooming business. She also does commissioned artwork. She focuses her free hours on painting, as well as spending time with friends and her cats. Janell resides in Hastings.

Millie and Charlie
“Janell is one of my top students. It has been a pleasure to watch her work develop over the past two semesters as she has transitioned from Painting 1 to Painting 2 in our Associate of Fine Arts program. Her work is expertly crafted and her process is complex, interesting and always open to new ideas. Janell is highly respected among her peers, who enjoy talking with her and watching her paintings develop each day. I look forward to seeing where her journey as an artist takes her!”
Rob Kolomyski, Painting and Drawing Faculty
Inver Hills Community College
Janell and Rob
Janell and Rob

Janell Hammer Q & A

Janell Hammer
Janell Hammer

What is one thing every painter should know?
If you go into a painting with a positive attitude then you are more likely to be happy with the outcome than if you go into it doubting yourself. Even if you still doubt yourself, then make yourself more optimistic until that becomes the case, fake it til you make it!

What is your favorite artistic medium?
Oils! I love being able to freeze oils between uses and not having to waste or mix new paints every time I want to continue on a painting.

What do you like best about studying art?
I like the change in pace. You are able to take control of what your plan is during the class period and there is less pressure to meet deadlines and fit into a box. Rob especially recognizes that everyone works at their own pace and does not look for completion, but rather for an understanding of concepts.

Three words that describe you as an artist:

What is the most challenging aspect of creating art at the college level?
Probably balancing my own need to make my art look as perfect as possible and wanting to have it as finished as possible for critiques and grading.

What advice would you give students thinking about making art their career path?
I’d say to go for it! It does not hurt to give it a try, especially if you are passionate about your art. If it works out then that is awesome and if it doesn’t and you realize that maybe it was not the path for you, then no biggie! At least you can say you gave it a try. Don’t ever feel obligated to pursue a career in art if you are having doubts, dip your toes in the water and decide as you go.

What one word best describes your experience at Inver Hills?

In the sense that I have so much more control over my classes and schedule and everything in between, compared to HS that is.

Out of all the works of art you’ve created, what is your favorite?
That is hard to say—I like each piece for different reasons. Right now though, probably #4 in the Loïc Nottet Series (see below).

#4 Loïc Nottet Series
#4 Loïc Nottet Series

Who is your favorite artist?
Chuck Close!

What is your greatest strength as an artist?
Grids! I always go all out when starting a painting and making sure I have a solid base/outline of the piece I am going to make. I know if I spend the extra time to make sure the proportions are correct then it will only make the painting easier down the line.

What is one thing every PSEO student should know?
I guess the biggest thing is don’t feel you can’t take classes you’re unsure about. You should just go for classes that might seem too difficult. Also, more students should know about the opportunities PSEO provides.

Follow Janell on Instagram:


Janell Hammer 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Rollerblading
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Belgium
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Bringing home my two newest cats haha (Millie and Charlie!!!!!!)
  4. First thing you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: Pay off all my parents and brothers loans/debt and have our house renovated. The first thing to go would be the yellow flooring in the kitchen!! I would also buy a ton of forested land and build a mansion and a cat sanctuary; I would donate a lot of the money.
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Reign
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson; I also like Fantastic Mr. Fox.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I would like to be able to travel the world.
  8. Your national bird if you could have one: Whip-poor-will; I used to hear them all the time where we live; I have great-horned owls nesting outside my window right now.
  9. Dream occupation: Not necessarily a dream job, but I guess more so just knowing for sure that I would be able to make a living from my art; that would be my “dream occupation.”
  10. Person you would most like to meet: The guy my art series is based on, Loïc Nottet
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Fluent French
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Climate change
Learn more about the A.F.A. in Art at Inver Hills by contacting:

Rob Kolomyski
Painting and Drawing Faculty

More about PSEO…

The Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program allows high school 10th, 11th and 12th grade students to earn credits that can meet high school graduation requirements while simultaneously earning transferable college credits.

Dual credit courses offer high school students the opportunity to enroll in rigorous courses that further prepare them for postsecondary education. Inver Hills allows PSEO students to take courses that are held on our beautiful Inver Grove Heights campus or online either full time or part time.

PSEO offers students a wide variety of class offerings as well as the opportunity to pursue more challenging coursework than may be available at the high school. Learn more…

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