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 Noticing Project is a joint effort with Alicia Alferman in which both artists take a photo a day for all of 2008. In their words:

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!

pinhole piece

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.

Letterpress

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:

Heather Smith Jones website
Heather’s Blog
Heather’s Etsy shop
Noticing Project


  • thank you so much for this studio tour. it is incredible. to me, heather = beauty. and, she has inspired me to get back to my watercolor painting, which i have allowed to fall by the wayside.

  • thank you so much for this studio tour. it is incredible. to me, heather = beauty. and, she has inspired me to get back to my watercolor painting, which i have allowed to fall by the wayside.

  • Thank you so much for this WONDERFUL tour of Heather’s work and studio. I love it and as a huge fan of hers I am so glad to see more of her space and inspirations. Thank you again!
    xo
    Melissa

  • Thank you so much for this WONDERFUL tour of Heather’s work and studio. I love it and as a huge fan of hers I am so glad to see more of her space and inspirations. Thank you again!
    xo
    Melissa

  • thank you thank you for this peek into heather’s world. it’s awfully fun to see inside from your point of view. and your photos are lovely.

  • thank you thank you for this peek into heather’s world. it’s awfully fun to see inside from your point of view. and your photos are lovely.

  • thanks for this beautiful tour! i love heather’s work and it is such a treat to see her studio this way. really beautiful photos!

  • thanks for this beautiful tour! i love heather’s work and it is such a treat to see her studio this way. really beautiful photos!

  • hi, thanks for these great photos! it really is an indulgence to to be lead through someone’s place of work like this and especially an artist like heather smith jones. her work is divine 🙂

  • hi, thanks for these great photos! it really is an indulgence to to be lead through someone’s place of work like this and especially an artist like heather smith jones. her work is divine 🙂

  • Charlotte Safewright

    Hey Sweet Heather,
    When I grow up I would love to be an artist like you! I love your studio and all of your work. It must be so wonderful to be so creative and do what you love. I remember when your Dad was younger and said that he loved making pottery so much and his work felt more like play. I feel so free and happy when I play with watercolors watching the colors flow together. I just like to play with wet washes right now and see movement in the colors. I am still in watercolor kindergarten.
    Bunches of love,
    Aunt Charlotte

  • Charlotte Safewright

    Hey Sweet Heather,
    When I grow up I would love to be an artist like you! I love your studio and all of your work. It must be so wonderful to be so creative and do what you love. I remember when your Dad was younger and said that he loved making pottery so much and his work felt more like play. I feel so free and happy when I play with watercolors watching the colors flow together. I just like to play with wet washes right now and see movement in the colors. I am still in watercolor kindergarten.
    Bunches of love,
    Aunt Charlotte