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Featured Artist Ivan Jones shares his artistic journey and talks about how he paints breathtaking paintings with pastels.
Be sure to visit all of the places Ivan showcases his art. The links are located on the bottom of the interview.
Featured Artist Ivan Jones
Dave – Hello Ivan, thank you for joining me today.
I first discovered you on Twitter, and I have been a big fan of your art ever since.
Before we get started, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Where do you reside and how long have you been creating art?
Ivan – It is a pleasure to be here Dave and I am pleased you are a fan!
I live near Leominster in the county of Herefordshire, right on the English/Welsh border.
I had always been interested in art, even as a child, but really discovered my love for art at Junior School when I was asked to help paint the background of a float used in the local town’s Coronation Parade.
Opening all the tins of poster paint, seeing all the raw colour, mixing them and creating a scene on a grand scale was awesome.
I then did A level art at 16 before going on to do Veterinary Science, as doing science was what was expected of me at that time.
I had been introduced to pastels in my teens, by a friend of my father’s, so after retirement in 1999 I took up the brush ( or in my case pastel pencil!) again.
Dave – I love your animal pastel paintings. They look so realistic. When I look at them, I feel as if I could reach out and touch them.
What inspired you to draw animals?
Ivan – Thank you, Dave.
I have no doubt that my veterinary background inspired me and has enhanced my understanding of what lies underneath the skin of an animal.
This gives me extra ability to create a more detailed and accurate portrait, whether of an animal or a person.
Also, the layering effect I can achieve with a combination of soft pastels and pastel pencils gives a sort of
3D effect on the completed work.
Dave – Your layering effect not only produces a realistic 3d effect but you also capture the animal’s character.
The backgrounds of your pastel paintings make your subjects pop off the surface. How did you learn that technique?
Ivan – I always try to choose a simple background with colours that enhance the subject matter.
Blending the shades of the chosen colour into a mottled pattern, as is often seen in photographic portraits, adds interest but does not overwhelm.
Of course, it is important to add light and shade, especially with animals and birds, to give the impression of trees, or grass, or whatever enhances the image. I hope that answers your question, Dave?
Dave – It does Ivan, thank you.
How long does it take you to complete a pastel painting?
Ivan – It does depend on the size of the piece but an average time for a 12-inch by 16-inch artwork (not including the frame ) is about 30 hours.
It is the creation of the detail that I enjoy, and that means I usually allow 2 weeks for each piece.
Dave – The end result of your paintings is well worth the amount of time you invest in your paintings. They are brilliant.
You also create beautiful land and seascapes, where do you get your inspiration from?
Ivan – I am lucky to live in a rural setting where beautiful scenery surrounds me, but I like to capture an image that draws the viewer in and makes them feel like they could walk into the scene.
I always remember seeing an autumn woodland scene by David Shepherd and I try to recreate that feeling, that I had then, of being able to walk into the painting.
I am not always successful with this, I know, and I do fewer landscapes and seascapes these days, but still, am occasionally inspired to create something special.
Dave – Ivan you paintings do draw the viewer in. I find myself getting lost looking at you landscape paintings.
What message would you like your viewers to receive when they look at your artwork?
Ivan – I am not sure I have a message Dave – I have never really thought of it in those terms.
I just want people to revel in the beauty of life around us, enjoy and appreciate the detail I put into each piece of artwork and if they go “WOW” occasionally I am happy!
Dave – That is your message, providing a way for people to slow down for a few moments and enjoy the beauty nature gives us.
What supplies do you use for your pastel paintings?
Ivan – I have tried a number of different pastel papers but I always come back to Artspectrum Colourfix paper which is like very fine sandpaper.
It holds the pastel very well and reduces “shedding”. They also do a Colourfix paint that can be applied to other surfaces like glass or metal, but I have not experimented in that way.
For the artworks, I use mainly pastel pencils though I have a range of soft pastels for backgrounds and larger areas that need to be filled, or used as a base layer.
The main brands of soft pastel I use are Artspectrum (I got a full set at a craft market at a great price ) and Rembrandt (I have a full set of these too – they were the first set of pastels I bought at the start of this journey in 1999)
The makes of pastel pencil I use are Derwent (softer) Faber Castell and Conte a Paris (medium) and Cretacolour (hard).
Cretacolour makes the whitest pastel pencil I have found…..I sharpen with a blade and finish off with sandpaper to achieve a sharp point for the fine details like whiskers.
Dave – What inspired you to use pastels?
Ivan – As I mentioned earlier I was introduced to pastels by a friend of my father’s in my teens.
He was an excellent artist and his use of pastels was an inspiration.
I even have a few of his pastels left, after 60 years!
I Don’t use them, of course, as I consider them a nostalgic moment.
When I retired we were living in Australia, looking after my wife’s mother, so I needed a medium that was not too messy.
There was a fantastic art shop around the corner from her home in Melbourne with a huge range of pastels, so it seemed that fate had lead me back to them again.
Dave – When did you start selling your artwork, and how did you get started?
Ivan – When we returned in 2000 from Australia, we joined our local Rotary Club and one of the members there owned a framing shop and gallery.
He displayed a few of my early pieces there and the first piece I sold was of a lake in Canada.
I sold a few more there and then, through contacts, was invited to exhibit in local galleries and exhibitions.
It has always been low key as my art is my hobby, not my livelihood.
Dave – What platforms do you use to showcase and sell your artwork?
Ivan – I have had a website for at least 10 years (the current site is my third one) but only started with social media 5 years ago at the advice of a friend. Facebook was my first platform and I have two pages, one for my art and one to show my techniques in pastel. I started Twitter and LinkedIn about that time but have since started using Pinterest more seriously as the main link back to my website and Instagram to showcase my current artworks.
I also have a YouTube channel with videos (rather amateurish) of my artworks being created.
Dave – I will have to take a look at your videos. Just like anything, there is a learning curve when it comes to shooting videos.
How do you promote your art online?
Ivan – As I said above I use social media quite a bit.
My first two websites did not allow me to sell online, so I have a profile on Artfinder, Art2Arts, and a number of other art selling websites.
But since I started my third website with Shopify last November, I have not added any new works to the other sites.
I have not had any sales from my website but I have a blog there, as well as a sign-up option for email marketing, so I keep plugging away.
I do share my blog on my Google business page and my WordPress blog site (set up when I set up my facebook page)
My main source of work is commissioned, which have largely come through Twitter, Google search and word of mouth.
Dave – What was the biggest lesson you learned about starting your art business?
Ivan – I think it is getting the Work/Life balance right.
As I said earlier, I am lucky that art is a hobby not a career so there is no real pressure to produce artwork.
But I do like to get new work done for exhibitions so that keeps me busy, along with commissions of which I have 6 in the pipeline.
However, it needs to be balanced with my other commitments as well as relaxation time.
Dave – What tips could you give to new artists who are interested in selling their artwork?
Ivan – I think that a new artist should start with friends and family to get the first sales, then build up from there.
Having a portfolio of work both new and sold is very important.
It is hard starting off, and finding a gallery that will exhibit your work is also difficult but there are so many websites and blogs (like your Dave) out there that give inspiration to new artists.
Oh, and of course having a website and a social media profile is essential!
Dave – Thank you, Ivan. Would you mind sharing a few of your favorite pastel painting with us and share the story behind them?
“Dave” is a commission I completed relatively recently. The couple who commissioned this portrait had first seen, and purchased, a painting of mine on the UK website Art2Arts.com They then purchased another from my website, another from an exhibition in Hereford and then asked me ( over a period of time) to complete three commissions for family, including this terrier Dave. Usually we like to take the reference photos ourselves ( it allows us to meet the subject and enhances the completed portrait ). However as this was not possible ( the commission was a surprise gift ) we chose this one from a selection. I loved the nonchalant attitude and the detail in the photo was very good – the recipient was delighted with Dave’s portrait, as was I!
“Brian” is another commission, completed last year. The story here was that we were contacted from Australia by a lady who had Googled for portrait artists and I was lucky enough to come up. We chatted by email and she explained her father lived in Preston and she wanted a portrait done for his 90th birthday. As her reference photos were not suitable, we arranged that when she was next in the UK she would bring Brian down to us for lunch and to take photos. This portrait was the outcome of that very enjoyable day and the whole family was very pleased, to say the least. I subsequently received another commission from one of the daughters, so that chance discovery on Google was very satisfying for us all.
Riverboat mooring at Sempford Peverell in Devon. This beautiful and atmospheric landscape was inspired by a photo taken by a friend of ours who is a talented amateur photographer. We have visited canals and rivers in Devon and this image, with the reflection of the riverboat and trees, the splash of pink on the front window, and the contrasting greens, made for a rewarding painting. It sold during one of my open house exhibitions ( as part of Herefordshire Art week) to an acquaintance who has a canal boat and appreciated the details and the atmosphere I was able to create in pastel. But, as always, it is the reference photos, and the details contained in them, that allow me to create something special.
Dave – What social media sites can people follow you on?
Ivan – I have a number of social media sites as mentioned previously.
Dave – Where can people purchase your art?
Ivan – I have art for sale on my website as well as on other art-selling sites. I will also be exhibiting new work during Herefordshire (H-art) week at the Makers Mezzanine in Whitney on Wye, Herefordshire between September 7th and 15th, and of course anyone can visit me at home (with an appointment) to see the full range of my artwork and my art studio.
To see more, people can contact me through my website contact page and purchase my art also through my website (satisfaction is guaranteed and I have a 14 day returns policy, as I only sell if the buyer is 100% happy)
The catalog page is www.ivanjonesart.co.uk/collections
Dave – I would like to thank you one more time for sharing your artistic journey with us, and I look forward to seeing all of your new creations.
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