In the 1980s, Andrew McNeile Jones graduated with a first in Fine Art from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art. Despite this, he then trained as a filmmaker before going on to produce and direct many dramas, documentaries and commercials.
However, in 2002, he decided to leave the filmmaking industry to concentrate on his art. Here’s what he had to say to ArtGallery.co.uk about his work:
Describe a typical day in your life as an artist
Andrew McNeile Jones: I like to start the day early, because, with three children, I know there are going be interruptions later. I often get up around 6, and sit at my easel with a first cup of tea. I can usually get an hour or two in before the breakfast and school run chaos. Then I settle down again just after 9.
I usually have several paintings on the go at any one time, and I try and do a block of three or four hours on each painting, before moving on. This will depend on how much wet paint there is, and how much I just need to let it dry.
If a painting is in its early stages, I block in the main shapes and masses, and it will be fairly quickly covered in paint; soon I’m in danger of smudging part of it, so I move on. Also, over-working wet paint can lead to muddy colours, so it’s best to put a painting at this stage on one side to dry. However, if I’m working on a smaller, detailed area, I can keep going if the surrounding paint is dry.
Hours just mysteriously disappear; I often have Radio 4 for company, and the news bulletins are a good way to keep track of the time. But I alternate the radio with audio books, and then there’s no clue; if it’s a good book, I can easily miss lunch and be in danger of forgetting to pick the kids up.
The later afternoon is often when I will deal with emails and some of the necessary admin – updating websites, photographing new work, and so on. I really should be better at the social media thing, but it just takes up too much time, so I try to ignore it.
When all is quiet again in the evening, I can ponder new ideas and maybe pop back into my studio to plan what I’m going to tackle first thing tomorrow.
Where do you gather inspiration for your artwork?
AMJ: Inspiration sometimes comes just from moments around the house – a shaft of light coming through the window, a jacket tossed over the back of a chair makes me think “I could do something with that.”
It could be an exhibition or a picture in a magazine or a website that just gives me the germ of an idea that I can chew over. And sometimes it is not even pictorial: it could be an idea in a novel, or a piece of music – on occasion, these can all set me scribbling. I have notebooks and lists of thoughts and possibilities, and just never enough time.
Above: ‘The Hour Of Meeting, The Hour Of Parting (II)’ by Andrew McNeile Jones
What was the first piece of art you created and the first piece of art you sold?
AMJ: I returned to painting after a first career in the film and television business. Around the time that I was working out my new direction, I went to an exhibition of William Nicholson’s paintings at the Royal Academy, and I was absolutely inspired by it.
I then decided to see if I could make a fair copy of one of his pieces – a silver bowl with pea pods on a tablecloth. This was the first piece in my burgeoning new career; I was satisfied with it, but never showed it, and it still hangs in one of our bedrooms.
I then started on my own small still lives and interior paintings, and my first sale was a painting of a wooden box full of home-grown tomatoes. There were all sorts of varieties and shades from green to deep red. What amazes me now is not the painting but the fact that I had the time to do the gardening, in order to grow all those tomatoes!
What is the most important piece of equipment in your artist’s tool box?
AMJ: Over and above the obvious essentials – the paint, the brushes and the canvas – the next most useful item I have is a mahl stick. It is nothing more than a bamboo cane with a pad of chamois leather tied over one end. The pad rests on the top of the canvas or on the easel, and my painting hand can rest on the stick. This gives steadiness for fine work, and also the ability to hold my hand away from areas of wet paint. It cost pence to make, but I can’t imagine working without it.
Above: ‘Rice Bowl & Spring Blossom’ by Andrew Mcneile Jones
If you could own any piece of art, which would it be?
AMJ: It is tantalising to be told you can have any – but only one – work of art. It would probably be an old master, and there are Titians and Velasquez’s that I would kill for, but right here and now I would choose Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels’. She was his mistress, or more correctly, common law wife, after his first wife died. She stares out at us – at him – with such tenderness and yearning, and the brushwork is absolutely magical.
How has ArtGallery.co.uk helped you progress your artistic career?
AMJ: I first met Mike and Aileen of ArtGallery.co.uk several years ago, when I was first exploring the idea of trying to sell my work online. I had my own website of course, but that does little more than provide an online ‘presence’ and point of contact. I knew that selling online was a lot more than that, and ArtGallery.co.uk have taken that on magnificently.
The site is simple to use, and they have built up an enormous database, which means new paintings can be targeted at potential customers very rapidly. I think the personal contact Aileen develops with clients means that relationships can be forged, which is invaluable, not only for sales, but for helping build the artist’s reputation – which can only be a good thing!
Are you interested in hanging an artwork by this wonderful artist on your own wall? Then take a look at Andrew McNeile Jones’ ArtGallery.co.uk profile now.