Jay Thaisetthawatkul poses with one of his oil paintings on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

About half a year ago, Jay Thaisetthawatkul, a junior physics and Russian double major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, first took up the brush and began painting. He was originally inspired after a trip to France during his junior year of high school, and he finally started in college.

“I started out by kind of getting into art by going to France,” Thaisetthawatkul said. “I saw all the museums there and I thought it was very interesting. But I never really got started until I came to Lincoln.” 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a French impressionist painter, is one of the artists that caught Thaisetthawatkul’s eye. “The Coronation of Napoleon” by Jacques-Louis David and all the other impressionist art at the Louvre were one of the reasons he wanted to start painting, Thaisetthawatkul said.

Thaisetthawatkul was not only inspired to paint during his trip to France, but he also took insight from the art that surrounded his local area.

“In Omaha, at the Joslyn Art Museum, I remember seeing certain paintings of Robert Henri, who is an American painter, and I really liked the portraits,” Thaisetthawatkul said.

After beginning his journey as an artist, Thaisetthawatkul explored different kinds of paintings. Thaisetthawatkul said that portraits felt more lively and weren't as boring as landscapes and other styles of painting.

While the type of image that the artist chooses to paint is important, there are many other aspects to painting, such as the color palette, different types of paint, the canvas and the way artists utilize brush strokes. In the future, Thaisetthawatkul said he would like to be able to build his own canvas to have control over the painting as a whole.

“When it comes to painting as a craft, there's almost two sides of it,” Thaisetthawatkul said. “There's that art which has to do with the artist's expression of things, and then there's the craft side, which is knowing how to construct a canvas.”

Alex Hack, a junior political science major at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a friend of Thaisetthawatkul since middle school, said that Thaisetthawatkul likes to acquire a lot of knowledge and new skills, including painting and other topics like science. 

Thaisetthawatkul focuses his realistic portraits on the people that surround his daily life. One example of these portraits is of Hack, who received a black-and-white portrait of himself from Thaisetthawatkul.

“I thought it was really cool; it was completely out of the blue,” Hack said. “He just gave it to me, and it was really surprising.” 

Art is relaxing, but can also take up a lot of time and requires a lot of skills. One of the most important skills when it comes to oil painting is seeing. It’s important to deconstruct and find the raw data that people perceive in order to accurately paint, Thaisetthawatkul said

“I think that painting is not as much as making it super realistic, that's why we have photography, so painting almost takes a different stage in the realm of art now,” Thaisetthawatkul said. “With painting it’s about the artist's perception and more about simplifying the things around you and picking out the most important things.”