If you hang a portrait in your home, it is as if the person in that portrait is living with you. The art can have a personal connection with its viewers through the eyes of the person in the painting.
An exhibition of figurative art, celebrating in particular the human form, provides a perfect hub for artists such as Debra Jones to display artwork that she has found such a deep connection with.
“I paint anything with eyeballs,” said Jones. “I paint things that look back at me.”
The Scottsdale artist’s work is displayed in “Go Figure: An Exhibition of Figurative Artworks,” a free show now open at Chandler Center for the Arts.
“I wanted to select a collective of artworks that celebrate the human form in a variety of perspectives,” said curator Mary Lou Stewart, in a press release. “I hope the viewer enjoys how vast and interesting the human form can be through an artist’s eyes.”
The exhibition features artwork in a variety of media, including graphite, oil, acrylics and photographs.
Jones tells more about her artwork.
Q: How did you choose the pieces of art displayed in “Go Figure?”
A: I chose some very interesting pieces and three of them have a great story that goes behind them. One portrait is actually my mother. She was in the last stages of lung cancer when I started this drawing. I finished the piece at 4 p.m., and she passed away around 8 p.m. that same day. So, I believe she moved into that portrait. It has a sense of presence, and I talk to it a lot.
Q: What impact do you want to have on visitors to the show?
A: I want people to remember the people I painted and, of course, me. Portrait painters are need to let people realize we are out there. We (painters) are not photographers, and we paint portraits and do it the old-fashioned way. What appeals to me may not appeal to someone else. I do a lot of commission work, but the better work is done when I know their personalities. For instance, when I paint young women, they have a future ahead of them so I try to convey that in my work.
Q: What goes into creating a piece of your figurative artwork?
A: I used to go to an open studio with models and draw from life. And I think good portrait painters do draw from life. When I acknowledge a person, I paint from my observation. I am not a creative artist. I look at a person and see their face, and I create what I have seen so that you can see, through my eyes, what I have seen. It’s more like a reflection of a person through my eyes.
Q: What inspires you and your artwork?
A: It’s the weirdest thing. A lot of people say, ‘I don’t have anything to paint.’ It’s the opposite with me. I have too much to paint. I like to do something challenging that stretches me each time, and that is my inspiration at this time. If I was extremely wealthy and had my own studio, I would spend all of my time in there.
Q: What do you do when you are not creating art?
A: Trying to find people to buy it! A lot of people ask me what my hobbies are, and a lot of people paint for a hobby. I live to paint. I meet interesting individuals through painting. I also do pet portraits. I like to donate my artwork to charities, as well.
• Nichole Kowalski is a senior studying journalism at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.