Steven Jones has been painting still-lives for over two decades. His subjects include fruit and flowers, silver vessels, glass objects and musical instruments. Jones has included books as part of his subject matter. His recent paintings are a part of an ongoing series incorporating old, worn musical instruments with books and other related objects.
The English author John Milton said, “Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life…” Doubtless Milton was referring to the printed content of the books, but Jones noticed it applies to the exterior of books, as well. Jones selects old, well-worn books that trace the many hands that have leafed through them and have shaped their outward character. The books’ spines may be bent or frayed and the typography may be faded, however, they do retain their inner “potency of life.”
Jones was the director of a college art gallery that is housed within an academic library. He has long been fascinated by the aesthetics of books randomly piled in stacks.
Jones studied painting in Paris for several years in Patrick Betaudier’s Atelier Neo-Medici, where he learned the Technique Mixte. This method of painting uses a solid tempera underpainting with subsequent oil glazes, similar to the 15th Century Flemish approach. Like the Flemish and Dutch masters, Jones’ still-lifes are painted in a highly realistic manner by precisely representing physical appearances. Betaudier was a master colorist. He taught Jones how color harmony and alternating temperatures can create the illusion of light and spatial depth; how subtle nuances can turn forms. This approach to painting still-lifes of various objects and books attempts to reveal the subject’s “potency of life.”