Monday, November 26, 2012

The astonishing painter Sheep Jones talks about how her vision impacts her art, painting, storytelling, and so much more

I was trolling through Facebook one day, when I saw a painting as writer Robyn Wright's profile picture. It was of a woman walking through the snow and the painting did something to me. It got into my bones and I became obsessed with finding out more about the artist and her work. I quickly friended Robyn and she asked the artist, Sheep Jones, if she'd consider being interviewed, and I'm thrilled Sheep said yes.

Sheep studied at the University of Maine at Portland/Gorham. She works in oils and wax, and her paintings have been shown in both solo and group shows along the East Coast and in Eastern Europe. Thank you so much, Sheep for letting me pester you with questions.  

How did you first become an artist?

Growing up in a large Catholic family in Maine, we were exposed to music, but not art. There wasn’t much of an arts program in the Catholic girl’s school I attended from kindergarten through High School. When it came time to consider college, my parents and I compromised. They insisted on Art Education rather than Fine Art, as a more likely source of a job in the future.

I have to ask, where did you get the great name, Sheep?

I met Charlie (my husband) in High School. I had long hair and unruly bangs that were always in my face. When Charlie’s father noticed us hanging out together, he said, within earshot of a few of Charlie’s friends, “Who’s that Sheep Dog you’ve been hanging around with?” The name just stuck.

What's your daily working life like?

My job is painting. I work at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. This building is open to the public every day. It has 3 floors, filled with artists who work and exhibit their art in separate studios. I am also represented in numerous galleries that feature me in shows. They also maintain bodies of my work.

Being visual and able to retain images for later use, I gather separate stills from movies, books, dreams, and stories. I also take photos of isolated shacks on my drives through the Maine landscape. I am always searching for the narrative in my paintings. When it starts to emerge I know I am almost finished.

Can you talk a bit about your world view and how it's incorporated in your paintings?

When I add a set of incongruous elements to a painting, it opens up a richer, more mysterious narrative than the straightforward storytelling you would find in a more traditional painting. Using images from life, my memory, and my imagination gives me a vast source of these elements, keeping the results slightly out of balance, which I find satisfying and exciting.

What's obsessing you now and why?

My latest figures are clad in versions of 17th century fashions. Perusing the internet, finding mny gems, has been my latest interest.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

Has monocular vision affected my art? At the age of three, I lost the vision of my left eye. My sense of depth perception is compromised, and my paintings tend to have a flattened perspective.

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