In the Spotlight
Artist Q&A - Sal Jones
Sal Jones creates fantastic portraits that have a cinematic, narrative quality in which she attempts to "capture the action of expression out of context”. The themes of love, betrayal, power-play and scenes of questioning coupled with the titles of each piece invites the viewer to feel and experience a snippet of the storyline in which these characters exist.
1.How did you get into art?
I have always loved creating, making something from nothing, adapting, altering etc. I have been inspired by art and creative ideas and the physical act of making, since I was a child.
2.What is your chosen subject and why?
I am not limited to one subject but mostly, I make figurative oil paintings that re-interpret the portrait. They are about emotions, relationships and the way we interact, both with each other and with images; at the same time challenging the stereotypes associated with the traditional portrait genre. I have been using fictional characters and filmic references along with gestural and varied mark making as a way to communicate ideas and states of being.
3.What materials do you use and why?
I have been producing mainly oil paintings over the last few years. I love the intensity of colour, and the drying time of oils allows you to move the paint around the canvas, lending itself well to experimenting with application and processes.
4.Where do you get your inspiration from?
Anything and everything, (images/reproductions/films/books/music/life around us). I collect images, as photographs mostly, however once I am involved with the painting I work more intuitively, referring to photo sources purely as starting points and compositional references, then I use paint application, process and mark making to explore the image and possibilities. Recently I have been inspired by the scenes, moods, lighting and heavy cropping of film sequences, in particular the close-up of the face in film, our fascination with it and the theory of emotional contagion.
5.What’s your studio like?
Busy, full and a bit chaotic…. It’s a shared space that is divided up by partitions between 5 artists all working in different media and in different areas of art, we get on well, it’s a good atmosphere. Our individual working spaces are quite small….. I could do with a lot more space, but I guess that is the issue with most artists.
The building itself, is a traditional listed building in Stoke Newington, it has skylights, peeling walls and old parquet flooring…
6.Are there any other artists that inspire you?
Artists I like vary – both with media and style, and intentions, I like expressive, lively work that speaks to me on some level. A few: I really like the way Jenny Saville uses paint and her portrayal of figures. Francis Bacon’s use of colour and form for expression and angst. I like the expressionist’s paintings. I really enjoy mixed media and sculptural work from the 60’s and 70’s particularly. The videos of Bill Viola, and Christian Marclay, are powerful, I love these for their sense of our relationship with time/life/death.
7.What is it you are trying to achieve in your pieces?
Apart from creating a painting I am personally satisfied with….. I aim to establish an emotional connection between the subject and viewer. In the longer term I hope my works will have lasting impact, are thought-provoking and entertain (I am not making elitist works, but ones that anyone can relate to albeit on a personal level).
8. How do you know when a piece is finished and when it’s the right time to stop?
Knowing when it is finished is often the hardest part. I tend to step back, leave it for a while and see how I feel about it.
It is the process of creating the painting, of seeing the form take shape, that is the most intriguing and exciting part for the artist; there is a point that hooks you with the excitement of possibilities, you become immersed in it…… the end is the point where this stops.
9.Are there any other art forms that you would like to try such as sculpture, ceramics, printmaking etc?
I have tried many art forms at some point over the years, it doesn’t mean I won’t work in other mediums again. Recently I did some glass painting (on a freelance basis) for a project, which was interesting, I hadn’t done that before and might explore it further on a personal level, however it requires firing, kilns and therefore use of another workspace. I suppose what I like about painting is the immediacy of it – you can see the results as you do it.
10.What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on several things. I recently spent some time in offices in the Shard on a residency, so I am working on an outcome from that experience. I am also currently doing a double portrait commission and working on ongoing series’ of works, some of which, I hope to exhibit soon