I happened upon one of Polly Jones mixed media pumpkins over a year ago on Pinterest and clicked to check out her site. Instantly, I fell in love with her mixed-media compositions that are developed with a tender touch, beautiful color palette, and high creativity.
I love how she mixes in paper imagery- including words, patterns, and shapes- to give her paintings authentic dimension and personality. I am a proud owner of two 'Polly Paintings' and can't wait to add more to my collection over time. I hope you fall as hard for this Texas-based artist as I have!
How did you start your career? And how long now have you been painting?
I've been interested in art making my whole life. My parents were very creative and encouraged me. Also, my grandmother gave me an oil painting kit when I was very young and I have been painting ever since. I won a first place in an elementary art show when I was in 5th grade...good feedback has a way of setting you down a certain path. I earned a BFA with a concentration in painting and went on to do a years work on a Master of Fine Arts. Wherever we have lived, I have painted and shown my work and maintained a studio (or at least designated art space) for over thirty years. I have juggled painting with being a mom and now my daughter is grown and on her own!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Studio time is the very, very best! Starting can be hard since I sometimes circle around a bit, but once I get going and am in the flow of making a painting, I'm at my happiest! I also love the connections I have made with wonderful people who have collected my work.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
Marketing is difficult for me. Putting myself out there and promoting takes a lot of energy. I like to read about marketing but actually doing it is much harder than the other parts of art as business. I'm trying to change my mindset on this and approach it as a different kind of creative activity.
Where do you sell your work?
I sell on Etsy as PollyPainting. I also often do commissions by request from people who have found me online. I'm a signature artist at The Center for Contemporary Arts in my town where I participate in group shows. My work is also carried by a lovely brick and mortar by the name of Abilene Frame & Art Galleries here in Abilene, Texas.
What selling avenue seems to be the best one right now?
Etsy. I use Instagram, Facebook and blogging to keep people popping into my Etsy store because it's easy to get lost in the crowd there. It helps that I've been selling on Etsy for several years and have a lot of repeat collectors. I'm excited to say I sell a surprising amount of work to Australia! Very fun for this Texas girl.
What is your favorite paint brand, brush, and surface to paint on?
I have typically used Liquitex acrylics but am being won over by Golden acrylics lately. I use both but am noticing that Golden consistently has a better texture. I am crazy about Golden brand Extra Heavy Gel/Modeling Paste and love to paint on Paramount brand canvas or Dick Blick Premier canvas. Dick Blick cradled wood gesso boards are lovely too. I go back and forth between canvas and board because I enjoy both at different times. I have a huge collection of brushes, some I've been using since college days that are pretty scruffy. My favorite shape to use are the rounds. Sometimes house painting brushes or q-tips are just what is called for. The new little squeegie type tools are a good deal of fun too.
You use a lot of mixed media elements in your work- what lead you to incorporate papers?
I was after a certain kind of complexity. It's a way of painting from what I see but also including other voices and associations via the text in the collaged elements. For instance, I can paint a tangelo but it might have a portion of a poem embedded in it or a bit of the Indian Ocean. I'm slightly obsessed with old Golden Book Encyclopedias and as well as a really old biology book and old maps. I like the associations and daydreams that come out of that. Sometimes I layer in drawings I've done that are a counterpoint to what the subject matter is. (snakes or weeds with flowers) It's a way of having a visual conversation about categories.
Tell me about subject matter: why do you think you are drawn to still life work mostly?
I love the structure of painting from what I see. Still life, for me, opens up a vast choice of opportunities for vibrant color and composition. I'm drawn to it because it's the subject matter I live with. I In a way it's autobiographical, many dishes were my mother's which she inherited from her grandmother. All of the fish bowl paintings are a nod to one of my first memories in which I had my hand in a bowl grasping a fish and my first encounter with death. The choices of fruit or flowers also conjure up personal experiences. It's hard not to get personal even with very simple objects in our lives. Everyone I know has a strong opinion about which cup or mug to use for tea or coffee!
Are you working on anything exciting (any commissions, etc?)
Yes, I'm very excited and somewhat terrified about a solo show I'm having at The Center for Contemporary Arts that will open in November. I have been working large in anticipation, it's a big space to fill! The exhibit title is "On the Table."
What keeps your creative reservoir filled?
Remembering to start from a point of gratitude helps tremendously. So much of what I paint is from my daily life and my creativity is sparked when I'm paying attention to the small moments that make up life. I've also been fortunate to travel with my husband's study abroad group to Europe a couple of times in the past few years. It was an art group so we really focused on visiting museums. It was incredibly inspiring to see all of these works that I have admired from photographs. Art books and blogs are inspirational as well. I share a studio with my artist/art professor husband and his work inspires me.
What drains you creatively?
Too much time online. The resulting guilt about not using my time wisely is a joy killer that affects my creativity.
Want to keep up with Polly & see more of her beautiful work?