Many Moods Mark Madison Artist’s Canvas
The featured image is a Beverly Jones painting titled "Garden Dance." All images contributed by Beverly Jones.
It’s not surprising that abstractionist/impressionist artist Beverly Jones is inspired to paint. What is surprising is how she does it, and why she uses anything but a brush. The answers “why” are her backstory.
The quiet spoken mother of two grew up in Franklin, Tennessee where she spent her childhood in the country — horseback riding, roaming the woods, fishing, and camping along the Buffalo River. Her family has two passions: a love for the outdoors and a love for art. They filled Beverly’s growing-up years with both.
“My grandfather was a watercolorist; and my mother an art collector and poet. So it was natural to fill our lives with art in many forms: ink drawings, paintings, pottery, and poetry. Very early, I exhibited a natural ability to draw, and my parents encouraged me to follow my own artistic path.”
Chasing color and the play of light and shadow
Though she never had formal art training, Beverly Jones’ childhood art experiences were very explorative and tactile, she says. “I loved nature and tried to capture it in my art — the smoothness of spring leaves and their dry roughness in fall; the odd-shaped undulations and crevices in rocks, and the crusty, leaf-like lichens growing in shade.”
At first, the young artist just sketched forms. But as her art matured, Beverly sought to capture the contrasting world of natural colors and the play of light and shadow that moved her emotions — misty clouds with their changing colors; early morning’s soft pastel light; fiery streaks of sunset’s orange and red; gentle grays and angry blacks of storms. And there were the sweep of wildflowers blanketing meadows. And the glistening reflections of sun and moon in rocky streams.
“It did not occur to me to use a brush,” Beverly explains. “Instead, I made my paint marks with my hands and objects found in nature — crooked sticks, pine needles, sharp-edged rocks, silky-smooth creek stones, stringy vines and sandy grit. Even in childhood, I did not so much want to replicate visual images of nature as to explore abstract impressions of textures and colors.”
Time spent painting slowly slips away
But gradually, Beverly’s attention shifted from art to horseback riding and attending steeplechases. “The horse, the barn, the creek, the woods romanced me, and my time spent painting slowly slipped away,” she says; “but years later when I least expected, I would rediscover art.”
Beverly’s bond with nature continued when she moved to Banner Elk, North Carolina to attend Lee’s McRae College. She loved the mountains and skied, hiked, canoed, and camped. She recalls, “Though I still was not painting, I now realize I was developing an artistic point-of-view: my own diminutive, human scale juxtaposed against the vastness of mountains, sky and natural spaces. Today, that perspective strongly influences my abstract and impressionistic paintings.”
With the birth of her daughter, Lacey, and son, Blake, Jones became a stay-at-home mom, living in Banner Elk for 15 years. “My home time, coupled with beautiful winter snow scenes, inspired me to paint Christmas cards for family and friends,” she says, adding that, to her surprise, friends began asking to buy her cards. And her interest in art was reignited.
A passion for painting professionally is born
Embracing mountain arts, Beverly became active in the Boone art scene, where her passion for painting professionally was born. “But I also wanted to be home with my children. So I created a home-based pie business, sold to coffee shops and small markets, worked evenings part-time at a local bed-and-breakfast and sold my cards and small paintings,” she says.
When her mother opened a gallery in TULA Art Center in Atlanta, Beverly gained exposure to art internationally and became intrigued by the dramatic beauty of large-format abstracts and impressionistic art.
Eventually, Beverly’s parents moved to Madison. After several visits, she fell in love with the town and moved there, too. She worked 13 years as a parapro at Morgan County Primary School, worked part-time in town and continued to paint and sell cards.
Madison sparks artistic growth
The move to Madison triggered an artistic growth experience. “Only then did I fully realize how much I enjoy painting. It isn’t that I have to be on top of a mountain or in the woods to capture the sense of peacefulness I feel when I paint,” she says.
“When I am inspired by some scene, painting allows me to express a deep, inner part of myself and to share that with my viewer.”
Now a Madison resident for 17 years, Beverly is a committed volunteer who donates her art to raise funds for such entities as St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital, Morgan County High School Band Spring Concerts, Madison Morgan Conservancy Derby Day, and Companion Animal Rescue, to name a few.
As she painted more, Beverly began to feel confined by small formats. “Images in my head needed more space to express my art more freely,” she says. ”I dreamed of painting on large, oversized canvases, but felt too intimated to try such a painting.
Stepping out of her comfort zone
Finally, eight years ago, the artist gave herself permission to succeed -- or fail. “It took realizing that, if my painting failed, I could just throw it away! I mustered courage and bought a 36”x 36” canvas. That was my first abstract. It hangs in my living room — a successful painting, yes. But also a reminder that a new world opened because I found courage to challenge my comfort zone.” Beverly still paints notecards and small paintings, but she also indulges herself in large-format abstracts and impressionist works: 48”x 48” and 48”x 60”. And larger? Maybe.
“Now, I paint freely, spontaneously, with bold, vibrant colors and quiet, subtle earth tones,” says the artist with a warm, confident smile, “It depends on my mood or a client’s request. I use palette knives, rags, paint rollers, sponges, tree twigs, sand, gel, layered pigments, my hands — anything to give texture and a sense of depth to draw you in. It is not that I don’t know how to use a brush, just that a brush holds me away from the canvas. As in childhood, my painting is a close-up, tactile experience.
“When I can, I paint outside with my dog, Nixon, my biggest fan! But I usually paint late at night when everything is quiet. Then, my cat, Poppy, keeps me company. When I paint, I am closest to my true being. Call it bliss or peace...there is a stillness that lingers.”
Beverly is still inspired by nature, but also by subtle moments in everyday life that spark her curiosity. The sought-after artist does large-format, commissioned abstract/impressionistic works, smaller paintings, and one-of-a-kind, framable Christmas and gift cards. At this writing, Beverly’s art displays in Madison at Madison-Morgan County Cultural Center, Town 220 Bistro, James Madison Spa, Zeb Grant Design, Petals Salon, and The Creative Mark. She can be reached at bevjonesart.com, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 706-318-3646.
This article, by Judi M. Collins, appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of Lakelife