James Warwick Jones
I would say my interest in art and painting probably began in the sixth grade. I spent quite a bit of that year working alone or with a few other students, drawing and painting in tempera on brown Kraft paper, illustrations for Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and SCA safety murals. Apparently my teacher saw some talent in me, so at the end of the year she suggested to my parents that I might have an interest in taking some painting classes. My parents always encouraged and supported me, so the following fall I began painting class on Saturday morning with a well known Hampton artist, jack Whitney Clifton. It was then that I decided I wanted to be an artist, a painter, and that is the course I have pursued for the past fifty years.
Continuing my studies at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and graduating with a degree in Secondary Art Education rounded out my formal art education. Like most artists, I worked in related jobs, first as a public school art teacher, and for the past thirty years as a curator and administrator in visual arts centers, currently at The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center in Hampton. During these other careers, I always found time and energy to devote to my painting.
My paintings have always been inspired by something I see in my environment, either nature, the man made world or a combination of the two. These are often ordinary, everyday things we all see in the course of our days, but usually something we don’t really notice and probably don’t think of as the subject of a painting. Very seldom are they picturesque or pretty subjects, but more likely something some might consider an eyesore, urban blight or at least unattractive. For me, though, there is a certain order or relationship between the shapes, volumes, values or colors that attracts my eye. It might be the way the sunlight creates a pattern of light and shadow, an atmospheric condition, or a mood which it evokes in me. It is almost always about the abstract quality, the way all the parts fit together in an interesting way. Finding or creating a unified design, a harmonious composition in that subject is one of the most important aspects.
Almost never are the subjects portraits or figures, although often the presence of man is suggested by the subject or environment, as if someone may have just left the scene.
Many of the subjects suggest the passage of time, the effects of age and weather and human use on something. Very seldom am I attracted to something shiny and new. The objects or building or workboats or whatever are apt to be well worn or derelict, often times disappearing, lost or destroyed some time after they have been painted.
The paintings often evoke a quiet, tranquil, solitary or serene mood, which I think is part of their attraction.