Recently the magazine Voyage Houston reached out to me for an interview. Click here to read the interview and see some images of my most recent paintings. Or just continue scrolling to read the interview (minus the images of the paintings.)
Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Lee Jones.
Amanda, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in Alvin, Texas and spent my early years living in various places, settling in Austin in 1998. I always loved to draw but was very shy about sharing it. I remember the first time I showed one of my drawings to my friend I actually cried. I felt so vulnerable. A few years later I showed some drawings to another friend, and she encouraged me to try painting classes at Three Muses School of Fine Arts with a woman named Mary Watkins. After about two years of studying there, Mary offered me a job teaching the children’s classes, which I enthusiastically accepted. When Mary decided to close the studio a couple of years later, I began teaching my students from my home studio, which I did for nearly 12 years before recently purchasing the new studio space I teach in now.
I spent many of those beginning years focused on teaching instead of my personal art career. At one point I became dissatisfied with my technical skills and knowledge. I began searching for a new mentor, but all the ones I really wanted to paint like lived far away. So I spent years devouring instructional art books and videos and hours reading posts on art forums like Rational Painting. I would do the exercises I read about and copy painting I found in books. I could see I was getting better, but it felt so slow, and I really wanted a mentor to push me to the next level. Then I found Graydon Parrish. I contacted him and was able to study privately with him once a week for about nine months. What I learned from him was invaluable, and I would have loved to continue, but I found out that I had stage 3 uterine cancer and I had to quit lessons. In fact, I nearly quit painting entirely. It was a dark time in my life, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been completely cured for two years now and am back to painting, now with a new perspective that I am bringing to my work.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m a realist oil painter. I love painting just about anything for any reason, but most of my current work is figurative, specifically paintings of my niece. I have been using her as a model for a series of ideas I’m exploring involving themes of mortality, vulnerability, fear, disappointment, loss, loneliness, and hope. I’m trying to create paintings that are technically skilled and visually beautiful, but also evoke some emotion, sometimes ones that are complicated or difficult. My hope is that my work appeals to various people on various levels, and leaves room for the viewer to have a personal interpretation. I want them to see themselves in my work, or at least experience a feeling of empathy. It’s my hope they serve as a mirror: that you have a reaction and then ask yourself why you feel that way.
Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I think what Austin does with it’s East and West Austin Studio Tour is a great way to support local artists. It’s pretty affordable to participate as an artist, and it’s free to the public. Even if you don’t have a suitable studio space to open to the public because you paint on your kitchen table, you can still participate as a guest artist in someone else’s space. I just wish there was better publicity for this because I meet so many people who have never heard of it.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The best way to support my work is to buy a painting! But the next best way is to share my paintings with others. Currently, you can see most of my new work on Instagram under the name amandaleejonesartstudio. Or if you’re going to be in Austin, you can schedule a visit to my studio to see any work I have in person by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe to my blog on my website to keep up to date with any shows I’ll be participating in.