‘I Like to Have Fun, But I’m Also an Old Lady:’ A Conversation with Kathleen Jones

Get to know Meyer Vogl Gallery’s newest artist. We really, really, really like her a lot (and you will, too). 

Meyer Vogl Gallery: You recently took the jump to becoming a full-time artist. What led you here?

Kathleen Jones: Being an artist was really all I ever wanted to do. I tried teaching because I believed it when people told me it was the only way I could support myself. But after 4 years of being unhappy, I decided to go for it. I just felt like if I worked hard and kept painting and pushing myself, eventually I could build a career. I was lucky to have a husband that supported me in this and took a big leap of faith with me. It has been very hard and also very rewarding. Never looking back!

MVG: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

KJ: I find inspiration in my environments — both past and present tense. Color combinations, rug patterns, organic shapes; all of these are pulled from my life. Sometimes there are symbols and other clues referencing a specific time or place; sometimes I am just completing an image I have in my head. I like to take photos of details everywhere I go that I can look back on and pull from when building a composition. You see a lot of interior design references in my work because that is something I have always noticed and held on to from experiences. Then it all gets mashed up in my head and compositions start forming.

Pleated Khakis by Kathleen Jones
30×22 mixed media on paper

About this piece, Jones says: ‘Pleated Khakis’ is about being a cool-ass kid but nobody knew it because you were shy and your mom made you wear the world’s most unflattering pants because they were “dress code.”

MVG: Tell us about your studio, and give us a glimpse into a day spent painting there. Any studio rituals?

KJ: My studio is the formal living room of my house. It’s the room you walk in when you come through my front door. I love it because it’s spacious, has a fireplace, and decent light. It is also connected to the main part of the house, which is important to me. I can shut the french doors to the rest of the house if I need to keep my dogs out, and they can still sit there and watch me paint. I like to have coffee in the studio in the morning, burn incense, do my computer stuff, etc. Then when I’m ready, I crank the tunes and start messing around. I try to spend a good chunk of time in there every day, but I also try not to put a lot of pressure on myself if that does’t happen. Have to keep my relationship with my work relaxed.

MVG: Your perfect day off: 

KJ: Can it be in the South of France? Haha, I would say visiting an art museum, getting really inspired, then indulging in a super long lunch with wine and good conversation. Maybe go see a band play for a little while, leave early, do my entire skincare routine, bed by 10 PM. I like to have fun, but I am also an old lady.

MVG: Currently binging anything? 

KJ: I’m reading for once! Haha, sadly I have a hard time sitting down and focusing long enough to read a book, but my brother-in-law loaned me this great book, Meet Me in the Bathroom, and it’s basically a history of the rock scene in NYC in the late 90s/early 2000s. I grew up on the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs so I am loving reading all the juicy details of the beginnings of their respective careers.

MVG: A few artists you admire — feel free to include artists we study in art history class and artists we haven’t started studying … yet. 

KJ: Oh man, I could literally write a book. I love art so much. Some artists that I am very into currently are Laura Owens, Patricia Treib, Mason Saltarrelli, and Corey Mason. Some classics for me are Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, and Francis Bacon. And Louise Nevelson. I could really do this all day.

MVG: Any advice to new artists? 

KJ: My advice is two-fold: 1. GO FOR IT. If you want to make art, then make it and make it well. Learn everything you can about it. Practice it. Get people to critique you. Push yourself. There is room for everyone at the table, but you gotta bring your A game. 2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You will make some very bad art. It happens. Learn from it, move on. You might look back one day and like it, who knows?