artist spotlight: J. Paul Jackson
fields is proud to pair with Austin’s Little Pink Monster Gallery to bring you the artist spotlight series, a collection of interviews conducted by the folks at Little Pink Monster, working in tandem with our editors to showcase some of the most interesting visual artists here in Austin and beyond. Some of these artists have exhibited with Little Pink Monster, and as fans of the wonderful women behind the LPM Gallery, we are excited to be able to provide a platform to introduce them to a wider audience. For this interview, LPM's head curator Annie Wells spoke with Houston artist J. Paul Jackson.
The Arch and the Leaves (2015)
J. Paul Jackson is a visual artist from Houston, Texas. He works in all mediums of art, including painting, sculpture and illustration. At the age of 11 he completed his first large-scale painting, and by the age of 16 his work was showing in coffee shops in the Houston area. Jackson has some formal education in art, but is mostly self-taught. At the age of 19 he curated his first show with two established artists, the painter J. Antonio Farfan and photographer Daniel Kayne. “Fabric and Stitched Art” was his first full series, which included 25 pieces, and it was displayed at Cafe Brasil in Houston in 2006. In 2008, Jackson started curating art shows for fellow artists, putting his own art career to the side for a couple of years, but he never stopped sketching and drawing. In 2011, he returned to his art, producing a series of oil pastel works of jazz greats, political figures, and everyday objects. Now he's working on a series of action paintings, which can be viewed here.
Thanks for opening up your studio and giving me access to seeing your works in progress. I always love coming here and seeing what you’ve been working on. Kind of like a candy shop for the eyes.
JPJ: Of course, of course.
Let’s jump right in. Give me a little background information on yourself. When did you first begin to create? What medium? Did your family encourage this creativity?
JPJ: I was raised in west Texas. My mother and I moved to Houston when I was 12. I started drawing at a young age—10 or something like that. My family have always been super supportive. My uncle studied architecture in college and had taken some art classes, and my grandfather, who was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force, both taught me to draw. And I just picked it up pretty quick I guess. I started with comic books, and I would copy the comics. I wanted to be an illustrator when I was 12 and comic books were my obsession.
Can you tell me about your process?
JPJ: It starts with specific colors. I apply the paint in random patches on the surface and begin blending the colors, and then maybe something I read or have watched will appear in the strokes, and I draw what I see in the paint. Then there are some works that I know exactly what I want to draw or colors to use. That's the best way for me to explain it.
Complete the sentence: When I'm in a large crowd, I...
JPJ: I am probably thinking about painting.
What are you working on now?
JPJ: I am working on a few collaborations with a few artists and creating some paintings for some shows I have coming up in 2016.
Rainforest #6 (2015)
What catalyzes you to create?
JPJ: I don't know, I just have to make something or I just become this different person. It's weird.
Are you proud of the art scene you are a part of? What would you change? What are you doing to aid that transition?
JPJ: Yeah, I am pretty proud to be a part of the scene in Houston. There are a lot of talented artists in this city. It's inspiring.
What big thing do you have planned for 2016?
JPJ: My brother and I plan to establish an art residency and work with the city of Houston to try a sculpture program with the city parks.
There is a deeply spiritual presence in your work that is palpable to the viewer. What do you credit that to?
JPJ: My concentration, I guess you could say. When I concentrate on my work, like someone concentrates when they pray, they have a spiritual experience. I can only describe it like that.
Your work is raw and physical in a way that I find refreshing. Can you tell me how it comes to be? Is it a physical process for you? Does it happen quickly? Or over time?
JPJ: It's a lot of adding and taking away ’til I feel it's finished. Some layers come out really fast and take a day to make. Other layers take weeks for me to make. I have been painting in large scale the past year so my process has become very physical.
Angelbert Metoyer is currently showing with Co-Lab Projects in Austin. How much were you influenced by the time you worked with him?
JPJ: I worked for him for close to two years. Working with Angelbert was great—he taught me a lot about process and really showed me not to be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of the materials that you use to create your work with. But I think the thing I really took from working with him was to always be working on art. We were always working on something. Always. And it was so much fun and inspiring to work with him. It was an honor, for real.
What do you sacrifice to create?
JPJ: For now, it's living in a real apartment. I live in my studio. But I enjoy it because I can always work.
Interview by Annie Wells.
Gold, Wood and Green (2015)