Studio Visit: Heather Smith Jones
Heather Smith Jones is a Lawrence-based painter and mixed media artist. When I first started doing my studio visit series, her name came up again and again in conversations with other local artists. I had seen some of her work at local gallery shows and we had met a few times through some mutual friends, so when I had the chance to hang out and visit with her in her studio, I jumped at the opportunity! She is an extremely kind and gracious person and allowed me to interrupt her on a recent Saturday morning to give me a tour of her work space.
Heather’s work is wildly creative with beautiful line work and great use of color. She has mastered a variety of techniques including watercolor, oils, acrylics, pinholes (more on that later) and has even mixed and tinted her own paint. Her work is often a blend of media and the result is fresh and unique.
There is a very personal quality to Heather’s art that I really enjoy. Her recent work is done on a small scale which forces you to get up close or hold it in your hand and really study it. It is clear that she puts a great deal of time and thought into each piece. Her delicate pinhole work is astounding.
Heather also does a lot of collaborative work with artists, photographers and writers from around the country on a variety of projects. The two images above are from the Inspired project, a collaboration with photographer Jen Causey.
The notion of the project is to look intently and observe the small or ephemeral moments around us.
In addition to her work for galleries, she also does a number of smaller scale pieces that she sells online. The photo above shows some custom stationary she’s designed using the pinhole technique.
All above photos of artwork courtesy of Heather Smith Jones
The art studio that contains all of this creativity is a work of art in itself. The room is very open with great natural light streaming down from the skylights above. The dark wood and clean, bright walls make the room feel very comfortable. This is a view looking in from the doorway.
The details of the studio are really interesting. The space was built by Heather’s husband Matt Jones who is a woodworker, carpenter and builder. Matt builds wonderful custom furniture and is also a partner in the design/build company Struct/restruct Associates, LLC.
All of the wood used for the flooring and trim is reclaimed lumber from an old farmhouse. Despite being newly constructed, it still has a warm, lived-in feel.
Some examples of Matt’s furniture in the sitting area.
Heather has some of her own work adorning the walls of the studio, but most of her wall space is covered with the work of friends and other artists that she finds inspirational.
The two works above are from the Inspired project and it is neat to see the work in person and notice all of the little details in each piece.
There are also great collections of reference material scattered around including some old books of illustration.
Imagery from nature often appears in Heather’s work, so there are lots of collected items like these as well.
I’m very impressed at how prolific Heather is. She has amassed a large collection of work and, although much of it is small, there is incredible detail in each piece.
Love the colors!
One unusual technique that Heather has really developed is the use of pinholes. By punching many, many small holes in paper, she creates a stunning effect that has both intricate line work as well as a 3 dimensional texture to it. The end result has the look of delicate lace.
To accomplish these pinhole pieces, she created her own custom set of tools with a variety of different pin sizes. She and Matt worked together to make the custom wooden handles.
Hanging out in the corner of the studio is an old Vandercook proof letterpress that was handed down to her from within her family. She has done some work with it and is still experimenting with the process.
Her collection of metal type would make any designer’s heart skip a beat! In addition to the fonts, there are lots of intricate, ornamental pieces as well as some handmade blocks.
In August of 2007, Heather did a cool project with Polaroid photos that incorporated photography, writing, and painting called the August Polaroid Project.
Special thanks to Heather for taking the time to let me into her studio to see her wonderful work! You can visit her on the internet and purchase her work at: