j. lea, more commonly known to friends as Janet Castro, has been an artist since crayolas could be organized by color groups. In fact she still has her set of 96 colors in its original box! In elementary school she was the artists whose portraits and water colored birds hung in the principal’s office and in the auditorium. After school and on the weekends she got together with her best friend and drew, painted, sewed and did whatever was the artsy activity for the day. Throughout school the arts were the focus of her activities from drama, choir, piano and guitar playing, dance and all forms of 2-D and 3-D fine art.
Entering college she decided to pursue an art teaching credential. This career, she felt, would allow her time to continue to develop as a fine artist… ha, ha, ha, little did she know that this career and her family would consume every moment of her life. Having attended San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State, Northridge), Pasadena Art Center College of Design and Cal State Dominguez Hills for her Masters degree she dedicated her energies to developing a comprehensive arts program at Bonita High School in La Verne. She is particularly proud of the dedicated fine arts printmaking program and the fiber arts program, both were one of the very few of such programs in Southern California at the high school level. In additions to her teaching she has worked commercially as an illustrator for the past twenty six years. Her illustrations have ranged from brochure designing to package designs, wine labels, car fresheners, logos, step by step “how to”, and video covers to name a few. Travel has also been a very strong influence in her teaching and later the influence for much of her visual art expressions.
As she enters into the third phase of her life, retiring from 30 years of teaching, she is now determined to get her visions out into the world. Through print, paint and fibers she is determined to express what she feels and what she sees. Janet sees that her role as an artist is to express all that is beautiful and unfolding, the essence of life. Influenced by an amazing array of artists, artistic movements and cultures her art will continue to evolve and explore.