Leonard Jones was born in 1955 in Lincoln County, Georgia, and continues to reside there. His old tin-roof farmhouse lacks electricity and running water, but he is comfortable with the simple life.
Jones made his first painting in school but the sharecropper’s son was forced to abandon studies to support himself as a laborer for several years. Eventually. he rediscovered his talent and love for painting and has since become a successful artist.
On roofing tin spread out on the ground, Jones paints scenes that feel lost in time, inspired by childhood memories and his immediate surroundings. Some of his favorite subjects are fishermen on the Savannah River, blues musicians and his local community.
His depictions may be somewhat idealized, populated by smiling faces living what seem to be leisurely lives, yet Jones provides a glimpse into African-American life in the rural South that’s all too rare. Pies are removed steaming hot from the oven, freshly hooked fish fly out the water; a child is a study in happy motion on a tire swing, a woman blows a cooling breath over a cup of fresh-made coffee. Perhaps emphasizing the universal nature of the country experience, Jones most often depicts his subjects facing away from the viewer or with their visage obscured by jaunty hat brims. It makes the characters seem at once familiar and unknowable.
He uses vibrant oil-based house paint and a large brush for the expansive areas of color but adds details and outlines for figures or objects with broken sticks dipped in paint, or his fingers. Even with such makeshift materials, Jones paints with an impressively fine line.
In the November 2020 issue of Lakelife Magazine, Main Street Gallery owner Jeanne Kronsnoble noted that Jones’ paintings have “the understated simplicity of folk art.” Yet, she said, “a deeper look reveals a remarkably delicate touch that animates his figures and reflects a winsome perception of people in his world.”
“His total lack of classical training leads him to veer away from all traditional art technique. And his self-imposed isolation from the conventional art world keeps his art ‘pure’ and earns him the additional designation of ‘outsider artist.’ Leonard’s work is fresh, unpretentious, compelling and highly personal.”
Jones has been featured in many gallery exhibitions and is included in the collection of the House of Blues.
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