Thursday, July 14, 2011

May 2011 Interview

A few folks mentioned they missed seeing this interview I did with Veronica Kessenich of Kessenich Contemporary in May. The link was posted, but perhaps it was somewhat lost in the blog posts and other various social media? In any case, I'm posting the entire interview here for those that may have missed it. Hope you enjoy!

Jennifer J L Jones:

Her Authentic Self

Atlanta-based artist, Jennifer J L Jones, sits down to answer a few questions outside her studio. Over coffee & bagels, she laughs about the ups and downs of living in a villa in the Italian countryside, what inspires her work, and where she plans to journey next (perhaps without ever leaving the studio.)

A view from outside the studio

VK: Do you have a ritual before beginning to paint?

JJLJ: No, but my work depends on my energy level. I am very aware of how I am feeling so I will, sometimes, briefly meditate allowing me to go inward and tap into my energy, helping me to discover what I am going to paint.

VK: Do you listen to music or have a playlist that helps you?

JJLJ: I do create a new playlist for each series I am working on and I sometimes put it on my blog. The music is all mood oriented and very eclectic. There are few things I don’t listen to. Well, I don’t listen to speed metal (she laughs), but I listen to everything from Opera to Rap – it all depends on the energy that I am wanting for the series that I’m working on.

My Serenata series, which will span the duration of the year, has a broad array of songs, a few of which are:

Let Him Fly – Patti Griffin (about letting go)
Claire de Lune – Debussy (it’s soooo pretty)
Stay or Leave – Dave Matthews Band (the lyrics are delish)

The music, so far, has evolved as my mood changes. If I feel like it’s getting too weepy, I will change it and listen to something more playful. In talking about it, I realize that the words of the songs are very important and evident in the work. If you listen to the songs, you’ll hear a similar theme that exists in the paintings: seeking, finding and letting go.

VK: Why the concept of ‘letting go’?

JJLJ: It is very personal; it’s where I am in my life. About liberating myself from unrealistic fantasies – letting go of the old notions that are not working to then allow me to embrace things that will work. It’s an act of self-discovery. The cheesy term of finding yourself and thereby coming to know yourself, a desire to make yourself happy from the inside and listen to your inner muse.

VK: As you embark on this journey of self-discovery, do you think your painting allows you to travel (without ever leaving the studio)?

JJLJ: I come from a family of travelers and viewers have told me that they feel like they’ve been to these places (that I paint), but they cannot orient themselves at a specific location. Perhaps this is what they connect with – the notion of embarking on a journey through the paintings with me as their guide or companion.

These are some of my sketches from my Italian art sabbatical- abstract cyprus trees, artichoke, olive tree, waterfalls, fire, enchanted woods… stormy weather that eventually led to the arrival of spring…

VK: In walking around your studio, I notice your sketches have a lot of words on them as well. Why do you incorporate text and image (on your sketches)?

JJLJ: What I went through in Italy was intense – good, but challenging – and, I wanted to remember specific moments. The text allows me to remember the experience. I felt it was important to anchor what I was thinking – the sketch is so quick, that it doesn’t hold the weight that the paintings do.

VK: So, in Italy was when you really embraced making watercolors.

JJLJ: I did break down in Cortona and buy acrylic and paintbrushes – it was incredible reading the colors in Italian to the shop keeper and though my pronunciation was definitely not superb, it was fun picking them out. He understood what I was saying. Obviously when it comes to art, everyone speaks a very familiar language.

Some of my very first paint brushes from my first year in college are in this pic.

And some cotton. I LOVE cotton. I want a huge arrangement of it.

VK: Other than music and travel, where do you find inspiration?

JJLJ: Nature. And my emotions. Ranging from delight to heartbreak and combined with my attempts to understand the world around me, this seemingly personal journey, the learning of life lessons – which is our life lesson – is evident in nature. If you look at my images, you’ll find a diverse array of flora and fauna that must be sifted through in order to discover the essential truth that it is the journey that is most important.

VK: How do you keep yourself motivated, organized?

JJLJ: I’m sure on some level, I am organized even though I don’t feel it. I have timelines that keep me motivated and on task with my goals. (Laughing) Birthdays help too – My most recent birthday was good at making me get organized – pushing me to get to the place that I want to be.

My work tables have become works of art themselves.

VK: What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor? Or, what advice would you give?

JJLJ: One of my instructors always encouraged us to take our ideas and do thorough research on what has been done prior and then, take it further. My advice: Follow your heart and listen to yourself. This is the key to everything. Take others opinions with a grain of salt – you must remain authentic.

VK: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

JJLJ: Just one? (She laughs) That’s a really good question. Maybe fly? I need a bit more time with that one. All the superpowers are such a control thing – I don’t necessarily want to read peoples minds or stop time – I just want to let go. Having a superpower would take away the mystery of things.

Ah yes, my crunchy painting apron. It tends to fascinate people when they see how thick the paint is in person.


Anonymous said...

I missed this the first time around. Thanks for re-posting. I love all the snapshots of the studio, works in progress, and tools.

Jennifer J L Jones said...

Thanks, Unsweetened. Glad you enjoyed it :)