Jennifer J L Jones:
Her Authentic Self
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.
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.