Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Greg Jones: Painter of Birds

Occasionally I mention my dear friends Sandy and Greg in this space. Sandy was a coworker of mine, and her husband, Greg Jones, is a fine artist. Greg retired from a very successful advertising career in New York to paint and carve in sunny Florida. In this posting, I'm going to feature his bird paintings, images I've grown to love through years of visiting, and many delightful dinners.

Click to enlarge

This painting, Toucan and Papayas, is one of my favorites. It's so evocative of things tropical and exotic, and I like the atmospheric quality it has. When I paint, I tend to bring everything into sharp focus and I want to give everything a sharp edge. Greg, however, paints images as our eye actually sees them. Look at the leaves in this painting and you'll see the brushwork of someone who has spent a lot of time observing nature.

Blue Jay 1

The blue jay reappears throughout Greg Jones' paintings. The feisty bird is a member of the crow family and is common in Florida. Greg has shared an interesting fact with me about the blue jay, which is that it actually isn't blue! The blue jay has gray feathers that refract light so that they appear blue.

Blue Jay 2
This painting of a blue jay captures the bird's attitude so well, we really could call it a portrait. A whole class in composition could be taught around this painting — look at the interaction and balance of the pot's ellipses, how the watering can spout is mirrored by the leaf next to it, how the bird is framed in a darker negative space, how the most intense color of the furthermost pot approximates the complimentary color of the bird and points to it — and I could go on. A great painting of rhythm and balance!

Mourning Dove
The high-contrast background of this painting is atypical of Greg's paintings, but it really highlights the soft green leaves that were the inspiration for the work.

Spectacle Owls (Panama)
Click on this painting to enlarge it and appreciate the detail. It's another painting of great atmosphere, and always gets the most comments from visitors to Sandy and Greg's.

But I've only shown you one side of Greg Jones' work! In my next posting, we'll look at Greg's bird carvings.


  1. Hello Mark:
    These paintings are indeed so worth enlarging to appreciate the fine detail. What a very talented artist Greg is and what a wonderful record of bird life in particular his paintings record. And, yes, we agree entirely with your remarks about his composition.

    He is, to our minds, a latter day James Audubon and we can well believe his work is sought after.

  2. Hello, Jane and Lance - I think you're right to call Greg a latter day James Audubon, and not just because he paints what different birds look like; he knows how they move and act.

  3. Mark, these are wonderful paintings, although not photgraphic images they are so evocative of the real thing. The bird with the fence immediatley took me back to my childhood in the country!

  4. Hi, David - I'm glad this brings back memories! As I recall, that painting has a rustic gray frame to complement the texture of the fence.

  5. Yes, the atmosphere of these is great -you hit the nail on the head!

  6. Gorgeous mood paintings, Mark. Can't remember anyone else painting birds in this manner.

  7. Hi, Stefan and Yvette - Be sure to check out my next posting, Greg's work as an equally talented carver.

  8. These are lovely Mark. I agree with David - so evocative!!

  9. Thanks, Stacey - I'll be sure that Greg sees these nice responses!

  10. I am delighted to learn of his work. There are very few painters who do representational images of birds. As a bird lover and owner of a pet parrot, I take special notice of bird painters. Greg's work is splendid. What type of paint/ paper/ canvas does he use, and what is a typical size of a painting? Has he ever painted parrots?

  11. Hi, Terry - Greg has painted in oils, but his canvases are most often done in acrylics. He usually paints on a board or masonite — art stores now sell a pre-gessoed masonite that Greg and I have both liked. And yes, he's painted at least one parrot. It adorns Sandy and Greg's house, beside their house number.

  12. Hello Mark,
    Something very zen about his style - Love it.

  13. Hello, Anyes - I agree with you, and I think that comes with being an observer of nature.