Now Bristol based, Elaine Jones grew up landlocked in the Midlands. Even so, she’s never been able to resist the ocean’s creative call.
Elaine Jones will exhibit and sell her recent works at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead next week (9 to 12 May), which this year is wellness themed. Alongside the generally mindful pastime of thoughtfully browsing beautiful, unique artworks, the fair will also put on a range of meditation, yoga and other workshops, with the aim of drawing parallels between two practices not usually considered as one: art and wellbeing.
We took a deep dive into Elaine Jones’s mind for some pearls of wisdom on how colour can influence mood, art’s role in mental wellbeing and its purpose in our homes.
Artist Interview with Elaine Jones
Do you remember what first struck you about seascapes – why does the sea continue to be one of your most prolific muses?
I have always been fascinated with the sea. As a child I grew up in the Midlands and going on holiday to the seaside was something that only happened once a year – it was a novelty.
The contrast in the sea is what draws me to it. It is a huge expanse of space that is permanently in a state of change. Vast areas of soothing, inviting turquoise blue waters can quickly become violent, raging swirling grey stormy seas.
Do you swim?
I am not a particularly strong swimmer and I am not a huge fan of swimming pools, but I love swimming outside in rivers and especially the sea. There is something cleansing about being out in the ocean, and as much as anything, it is great for blowing away the cobwebs.
The sea can be dangerous – is there a hidden warning in your art?
Yes, I think so. Everything in nature has two sides and can be at the same time both beautiful and dangerous.
My paintings are made up from lots of layers, and evolve over a long period of time. I build them up with lots of different shades of colour to form a delicate composition. I then throw a tub of paint across them. My art is about experimentation: What happens if I throw some yellow ochre over this section of prussian blue, I think.
Quite often this process will totally change the feel of the piece. It either completes it or destroys it. I like this element of danger in my work. I am never totally in control, as it is the paint that dictates the painting, not me.
Blue has historically been associated with sadness and melancholy. Do you imagine that your art can lift or alter someone’s mood and, if so, why choose the sea, which is predominantly blue?
When looking out to sea I don’t find a sadness, it’s more of a wonderment to look out at something so much bigger than ourselves. I find these vast areas of space to be calming and I try to evoke this serenity in my paintings.
I do not think of my paintings as sad pictures, as there is a fine balance between the blues that I use. I was very conscious when painting my Arctic series that my colours should not be too cold. I often add greens and greys to make them warmer, and yellow is a great sunshine colour to help lift the painting.
How do you feel when you paint?
Sometimes I can become totally lost in my painting. I lose track of time and become absorbed in the spontaneity of moving paint about and getting colours to work together. This is mindfulness for me.
My mood can also directly influence how I paint. There are times when I am very focused and have a strong sense of purpose about what I am wanting to achieve. Other times I have more anger or energy and paintings take on a different approach and mood.
I often find it helpful to go out into nature with my sketchbook if I am not feeling the creative flow.
Do you think artworks of the sea can improve someone’s wellbeing more or less than the real thing?
I don’t think that you can beat the real thing. Simply being by water helps put things in perspective. I think in the current climate especially it is important to step back from every day stresses and spend time in nature.
My art is about evoking that feeling. I like to create calm and the allusion of space. A painting is something that can always be with you and prompt memories of that perfect place. We have lots of paintings hanging up in our house, they are the most important part of our interior decoration. I love looking at them and seeing something new each time.
Elaine Jones will be exhibiting her work at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead 2019. For more information and tickets to this year’s Fair, including yoga and breath workshops, please visit the website.