Like many artists, Jamaica Street’s Elaine Jones discovered her urge to paint when she was a child. After completing a Fine Art degree at Loughborough University she started to travel the world, becoming inspired by the wide array of colour palettes different countries have to offer. From the Arctic to Costa Rica, she translated her experiences as wondrous abstract landscapes and seascapes, which subtly celebrate the power of colour, light, balance and space.
What is your main source of inspiration?
“I get my inspiration from many different things. Sometimes I start with a blank canvas and just throw some paint on it. I then try to work with that mark, colour, or shape, adding and subtracting until it begins to make sense. I love the sea and as my work evolves I seem to be drawn to quiet and empty landscapes more and more. I love to draw busy scenes, lovely marks with lots of detail. However with paint, I get drawn towards serene and minimal ideas much more.”
You travel a lot. Tell me more about your adventures and the way they complement your creativity.
“When I went to the Arctic it was actually on a nature trip looking for birds and polar bears. The weather and consequently the view of the landscape there changed very quickly. One time I was on the boat and there was a bright orange semi sunset against white snow to the left and to the right there were dozens of walruses against a shimmering blue backdrop. You would have these huge empty spaces where it looked like nothing could survive and then you would come to a cliff swarming with hundreds of sea birds. The blues, greys and purples in the sky influenced these particular paintings, they were unlike anything you would see in England and were a dramatic backdrop to the cerulean blues and greens in the ice.
I travelled to Costa Rica soon after for the contrast and I spent a bit of time in the rain and Cloud Forests of Monteverde, here I was influenced by the colour and the height of the trees. I think that this was the first time that I successfully used green in my paintings.
More recently I have been on a painting expedition to Tresco in the Scilly Isles, adjacent to Britain. Tropical gardens, beautiful flowers and calm beaches on one side of the Island contrasted sharply with a much more rugged coastline with crashing waves and strong winds.”
Natural motifs are clear in your artwork. What is your relationship with Mother Nature itself?
“I have visited some amazing places and they had a huge impact on my respect for the earth. Seeing the Arctic in particular made me feel extremely privileged. The expanse of colour and light is so unique and the purity and calm there is breath-taking. It is crazy to think that it may not be there for my children to see.”
What is your painting technique? How did your painting style come about?
“My painting method is mostly instinctive but I spent a few years after finishing university trying to create a style that was original. It was something that was very important to me and I did a lot of experiments including sticking computer switch boards to my work and welding together bits of old cars that were lying around in my dad’s garden.”
What inspired you to paint ‘Ochre Drift’? What exactly did you want to tell the viewer when creating it?
“Ochre Drift began as a painting inspired by the Canary Islands. It was at Tazacorte on the tiny Island of La Palma. The drama of the fiery sunset against the black sand was an exciting starting point for the canvas.”
Are there any new projects you are working on?
“I am currently just getting back to work after my maternity leave. I am beginning some paintings for a gallery in Florida called gallery on fifth which I am really excited about. It is for their launch this spring and it will be five large canvases. I haven’t done really big paintings for a while so I am looking forward to working on a series of quite meaty paintings.”
Elaine Jones uses subtle and exceptionally bright colours to create harmony, drama and depth. “The colour palette is everything in my work,” admits the artist. “I would love to go to India on my next expedition as I think that the colour and light there will be a great addition to it.”
Article by Auguste Chocianaite.