I am brand new at this. Instead of telling you about myself and my work, I am going to use an interview that Mike Brannon, also an artist, did for me in 2006. I think he captured the essence of what I try to do with my art.... so here it is:
Interview: VOA Magazine (Voices of Art)
A Study in Contrasts
"Art is the lie that tells the truth" - Picasso
It's said that art as a life is less a choice we make and more that it either chooses us - or it doesn't. If so, this would be the case with Terry Jones, as having started painting at 7, he's never looked back and continues the exploration of the various sides of his artistic personality through oils. As with any journey, it's a study in self discovery, a catalystic journey both vivid and soulful via the sheer power and presence of color, form, balance, memory and the exploration of their personal meaning for artist and viewer.
The intense, soft-spoken, sixth-generation Texan traces his lineage to Benjamin Franklin Highsmith, who was the
last courier out of the Alamo. Known as 'Uncle Ben', his photo graces the walls of the Alamo today. Born into a
family of ranchers, Jones still chooses to live away from the city now, near Medina Lake, where he finds it best to work. "We're pioneers", he explains, "I was the first one to be born in a hospital." He often visits the Hill Country for inspiration, specifically the Lost Maples area where his grandfather once owned land, then going for eight dollars an acre. Though not an artist himself, Jones credits his dad, who spent two years in a POW camp after being shot down over Germany in WWll, with being a strong influence in his life.
Originally an environmental investigator, Jones has always been drawn to the natural world, especially South
Texas, and tends to see everything he does, whether abstract or not, as a landscape. An inner ear reaction to
a mycin drug at eight caused Jones to lose much of his hearing just as he began to paint; something he believes
has caused him to become internally oriented to an even greater degree. "It's caused me to live more in my head",
he explains. "I've got an internal ego." he relates, which along with his quiet nature one could almost mistake for
a lack of intensity; not the case with Jones.
"Painting representational art usually bores me." he injects, though he'd originally worked representationally in oil until seeing the now famous '49 Pollock spread in Life magazine while a young teenager. "I've never been the same since", he laughs. "I always have to satisfy the snobby, New York art inner critic", he continues, describing the competing internal voices for his work to also have universal appeal.
Jones' background includes a degree in studio painting from Angelo State University where he studied with realist/ surrealist Otis Lumpkin. "He was the art department", Jones' confides. Under Lumpkin, Terry studied classical painting and the techniques of the old masters. Always intensely interested in color, he recalls learning about glazing color on top of black and white sketches to create an otherwise unattainable glow.
Numbered among his influences are: Miro, Picasso, Hans Hoffman, Monet, Munch, Emil Nolde, Albert Pinkham Ryder, W. M. Turner, Wolf Khan and Frida Kahlo. "She was brave", he says of Kahlo, who wasn't a favorite artist
but was an inspiration for how she faced what she'd endured in her life, while Khan's iconic take, "the eye reigns", has been a strong philosophic influence, as well.
"It's the process that kept me doing it", Jones offers. Artist/art instructor Hans Hoffman, who taught Rothko,
DeKooning, Joan Mitchell and Wolf Khan, was also a definitive influence. Among the things he's gleaned from
Hoffman were to only begin painting once your mind was clear and each time to "always try to re-invent the wheel".
"I never intentionally use the same palette twice.", instead choosing to operate instinctualy while eschewing repetition, as
much as possible. "Repetition bores me." he emphasizes, but I do love painting a series of the same subject, another conundrum.
"The pastels began as studies for the larger oils, but have since taken on a life of their own", he explains,
regarding their two-fold relevance and the response of collectors. Drawing on various scenes and events he's
witnessed, Jones finds the essence of each to express the emotional gravity of what he senses. With just a
piece of pigmented chalk or oil as the catalyst between inspiration and canvas, a new window of commentary
is created, unlike any other - the lie that tells the truth.
The surrealist landscape, "Purple Receding", is a perfect example of the mists of his favorite color conspiring to create the illusion of a brilliant, impossibly hued forest - purple and cyan - just beyond a rust colored 'field' (or is it a lake?). As with Van Gogh, color and texture take center stage, with the abstraction hinting at representation causes it to become a fascination for the viewer. There's a certain psychologically powerful cloudscape effect in play, like a Rorschach ink blot or clouds overhead, that allows one to create the illusion of a brilliant, impossibly hued forest - purple and cyan - just beyond a rust colored 'field' (or is it a lake?). As with Van Gogh, color and texture take center stage, with the abstraction hinting at representation causes it to becomes a fascination for the viewer. There's a certain psychologically powerful cloudscape effect in play, like a Rorschach ink blot or clouds overhead, that allows one to imagine whatever comes to mind in that moment.
"Being in the moment; nothing is as fine." Jones adds, though predominantly through the distance of time
from older works can he best appreciate them. Whether a series of vertically oriented horizon lines - bands of color above and below meant to imply ground and sky - or a whimsical pair of trees, one dark with the other in flame, seeming to represent the two sides of a coin; the yin-yang nature of ourselves, with a humorous twist. Jones expertly plays walks the tightrope
of contrast, balance, whimsy, drama and the juxtaposition of unexpected color. Exploring where each blends, where the road to each abstraction gets lost in the other realism, Jones finds that fine balance and knows when to let go.
Though having a penchant for purple, even devoting an entire series to it, Jones also describes an affinity for red, as well. "It's among the most difficult of colors to make work". Curious by nature, he insists colors that were never meant to work together find themselves side by side in his work on a regular basis. Though he's been through all the color theory he could stand - triadic, complimentary, Munsell - he now just goes on pure instinct when starting new work, insisting "I never use the same palette twice. Have "no boundaries" and "know the rules so you can break them. Just know them first." he advises.
Selected shows have included: Blue Star Galleries 'Arts and Eats' and 'First Friday' at The Joan Grona Gallery. Kate Kingman, a designer who promotes and sells his work around the country, "...sees me as a 19th century impressionist", he laughs, though stylistically, he sees himself as a contemporary painter. It's that conflict again, between internal and external vision. At once laid-back and intense, serious and entertaining, surrealist/ abstract impressionist, Jones presents a study in contrasts. There's also always the conflict between being driven and obsessed - finding ways to stay focused, involved and relevant in the current arts climate - and the grief and struggle that accompany being an artist of any kind.
"Those concerned with art seem to be diminishing." he laments, though currently experiencing his best personal year to date. A study in contrasts for sure.
Jones is currently showing at Private Stock in San Antonio and the Austin Street Gallery in San Antonio. One of his pastels, "Singing", is in the permanent art collection at the University of Texas in San Antonio.
Mike Brannon/VOA - 12/06