Winter Days at the Studio

I am now fully ensconced in my new studio on Germain Street, Caleb is manning the gallery on Duke Street, and the winter days are slipping by. With Caleb at the gallery, my studio time is becoming more and more productive and focussed. So it seems, anyway. February could easily throw an unproductive wrench into my self-congratulations. Winter is such a perfect nap season. 

On the go: I am working on an upcoming solo exhibition at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax in early spring, and the first issue of the Jones Gallery Quarterly is about to be delivered to the post office. Also on the easel this month: paintings of Portland, Maine.

The door to my loft studio on Germain Street. I claimed it with my paint apron. 

The door to my loft studio on Germain Street. I claimed it with my paint apron. 

Teatime at the studio. 

Teatime at the studio. 

This new studio is largest working area I have ever had, triple the size of the gallery (and former studio space). I'm looking forward to working on some large paintings here. I'm planning some big ones for my upcoming show at the Saint John Arts Centre in September. 

Some work in progress for Argyle Fine Art and an upcoming exhibition in April.

Some work in progress for Argyle Fine Art and an upcoming exhibition in April.

I've also been working on some photos and sketches from a recent trip to Portland, Maine. They have some great alleys and fire escapes and power lines. 

Detail of 36"x24" in progress.

Detail of 36"x24" in progress.

Detail of 36"x24" in progress.

Detail of 36"x24" in progress.

Palette, sometimes the most interesting bit.

Palette, sometimes the most interesting bit.

Winter Hours

Beginning January 20, 2016:

Wednesday - Saturday 12-5 pm

Outside of these hours, I am generally working in a studio around the corner from the gallery. Gallery is open happily by appointment.

More [small things]

Stairs on Duke, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015

Stairs and School, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015

Windows on Princess, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015

Down Trinity Lane, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015

 I Found a Fire Escape, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015

Down Princess Street, oil on canvas, 7"x7", 2015


I've been looking at fences and stairs lately. Both add a cluster of visual interest to a painting - a little flurry of horizontal or vertical lines can drive an entire piece. I go for walks around Uptown Saint John with my camera a couple times a week looking for ideas. A good staircase or fence will form the basis for a composition, then I work out the details at the studio.

On an unrelated note, I just finished reading (and watching) Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, andI've been contemplating the similarities between Milton and Saint John, both industrial towns. And then on Mecklenburg I saw these berries and this iron fence, and thought, Margaret (or maybe Gaskell) would approve. Little bits of beauty in this rough-and-tumble place.

Also on Mecklenburg. This eerie place. That one is straight out of Victorian Gothic horror. 

A Peek at the Holiday Special

Join us this weekend for the Jones Gallery Once-Every-Few-Years Holiday-ish Special. Free painting with purchase! New work on the walls, mystery paintings wrapped, twinkle lights on, door prizes sorted. 

Also! If you have been considering subscribing to the Jones Gallery Quarterly, now is the time! In-store Quarterly subscriptions are eligible for the special offer. Sign someone up for Christmas and get a wee gift for yourself. 

Here is a little peek at what is in store for Friday & Saturday. The little gift bags are on display throughout the gallery - pick out your mystery painting! There is also a $50 Jones Gallery gift card door prize. 

Little mystery bags.

Little mystery bags.

A peek at one of the newly arrived and freshly painted works for the weekend. A fire escape on Prince William Street. 

A peek at one of the newly arrived and freshly painted works for the weekend. A fire escape on Prince William Street. 

The little bags with the little mystery paintings are displayed throughout the gallery. I wrapped those myself!

The little bags with the little mystery paintings are displayed throughout the gallery. I wrapped those myself!

I even made little labels. That entailed a harrowing trip to Michael's. 

I even made little labels. That entailed a harrowing trip to Michael's. 

Pip just had a bath. Max-fluff for the Special.

Pip just had a bath. Max-fluff for the Special.

The Once-Every-Few-Years Jones Gallery Holiday-Ish Special

If you follow the studio, you know that I have a sale perhaps once-per-year. Here is the 2015 version! We did this a couple years ago and it was a fun one: a free mystery painting with purchase. I have a basket, full of wrapped up little paintings, and (with purchase) you get to pick one out! A little gift when you buy a gift.

Receive a 4”x4” ($145 value) painting for free with $300 minimum purchase. Offer available on Nov 13-14 only. Supplies are limited. One per customer.

Friday, November 13, 11-7 & Saturday, November 14, 11-4

Art History Travel Tour: Florence & Rome 2016

I am thrilled to share with exciting news with you. 

Freedom Tours and I have been working for months to plan an escorted art history tour to Florence and Rome in 2016. And we just released the tour information

Many of you have attended my art history lectures over the past several years and know this is a passion of mine. You can now watch me gesture enthusiastically on site rather than simply at a screen. 

The days are divided, for the most part, into morning lectures/tours and free time to explore in the afternoon. An Italian guide will take us from place to place and discuss local context; I will be accompanying the group to provide the art history content. We are beginning the tour in Florence and concluding in Rome. This will be an in-depth look at the Early to High Renaissance. We will be looking at (and surrounded by) painting, sculpture and architecture. I am hoping to weave the Renaissance story together in an immersive way to give you a real sense of the life and work of artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Raphael. 

You can see the complete itinerary here. For booking or travel information, please contact Freedom Tours. 

For the next few months I will be blogging about various bits of art history that we will encounter. Stay tuned. 

You can also attend my upcoming art history lectures on art in Rome. These lectures are taking place at the gallery (73 Duke Street), October 16-24. They will cover some of the work we will see in the latter part of the tour. 

Special thanks to Ellen, Heather and Lena at Freedom for having this idea and for all your work. 

Launching the Jones Gallery Quarterly!

Special thanks to Argyle Fine Art for being part of the inspiration for this project (they have an awesome print subscription series that I highly recommend). 

Readers, if you like: send me your address and I will mail you a copy of the Quarterly brochure. On real paper! Mail! I love mail. 

Or subscribe now and wait for your art bundles to arrive. 

Jones Gallery Quarterly Subscription

*Subscriptions for the 2016 edition are now SOLD OUT! Subscriptions for 2017 will go on sale in August, 2016.*

Receive FOUR paintings throughout the year, once per season. Each painting is an original 6"x6" cityscape work on canvas by Sarah Jones. (Cost of a 6"x6" painting in the gallery is $175, which means you save $50 per painting!). Subscriptions are limited. 

The first issue of Jones Gallery Quarterly will be Winter 2016. 

Shipping is free within Canada. 

Return policy: All sales are final. Each work will be executed according to the artist's highest standards and integrity. Each subscription and every work within is unique. By purchasing, subscribers are aware of the artist's work and are open to the surprise element of this project. 

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"The Place We Live": A Preface

I was honoured to write the preface to the 2015 Saint John High School Yearbook. These are, what I hope to be, some meagre words of wisdom on their theme, "The Place We Live." 

I spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning behind your theme, the place we live. Place is probably the central theme in my own work. I’m always trying to figure out ways to interpret place/home/ landscape. Which is tough stuff in an urban setting. Cities are complicated. Urban spaces are made up of fields of accumulated meanings: memory upon memory, old landmarks razed for new ones, graffiti spray painted over graffiti, its people coming and going.

These non-static elements reflect the nature of urban identity itself. Transient. Changing. Shifting fields of meanings. Given its ever changing nature, it’s challenging to concretely define an urban place beyond simple geography. What is Saint John, exactly? How are we different from Fredericton or Moncton, Toronto or New York? How do we parlay the complicated memories and experiences living or going to school in the Uptown into identity? And how do these experiences inform our sense of place?

So this is what I deal with in my artwork. Or valiantly attempt, seeking somehow to capture the essence of my urban place (Saint John) on a static two-dimensional surface. I try to mirror the development of urban space in my work, re-creating a field of accumulated meanings through the physical application of materials, built over time on the canvas, each layer a temporary interpretation of the landscape. I also try to draw attention transient elements of urban culture, like graffiti, construction sites, cranes, scaffolding and tankers – things that move in and out of the urban landscape, and that are often painted over, concealed, moved, ignored or edited in a bid to preserve an aesthetic ideal.

Sure, there are parts of Saint John that are less that aesthetically ideal. I remember thinking this with particular vehemence one afternoon in Grade Nine Social Studies, when the some dank fishy smell wafted through the open Prince William Street window (the odoriferous hazard of going to high school next to a working port).

But you know what, I like the grit. I like the decaying bits of old piers in the harbour and the tugboats and the odd characters and our rough-and-tumble South End. Perfection is boring. Flaw is character.

Some of you will be leaving Saint John. For university or travel or work, eventually.Watch what happens to your sense of place and how you self-identify. I went to Queen’s University for graduate school and was surrounded by fellow students who thought Quebec was the East Coast and that the Maritimes was a mythical land populated only by Anne of Green Gables and that Ontario (alone) equalled Canada. My sense of identity there came into sharp focus.While I was living in Kingston, the Globe and Mail published an article about one of those happiness indicator studies, in which they found that Saint John was the happiest city in Canada. I was triumphant. I made photocopies and distributed them around the campus bulletin boards. My small act of in-your-face-Ontario rebellion. We might be a little grimy around the edges but at least we’re a happy bunch.

Sometimes, the not-so-nice-at-the-time elements of the place in which we live or grew up - the bits we don’t like (it’s too small, too poor, too dirty) - become the things that we miss the most when we’re away from this place. And maybe they will be the things to draw you back. It drew me back. And I opened a studio and a gallery one block away from my old high school, in my favourite place in the world: our little uptown. I like the smallness of this place, that this community will get behind a young entrepreneur and support her career. I like that we’re warm-hearted enough to stop our cars for passing funerals and slow-turned enough to chat with neighbours. I like that the lofts in our uptown buildings are full of artist studios and rehearsal spaces. I love blueberry pancakes on a Saturday morning in the City Market and tea at the Feel Good Store and Queen Square in the summer.

So, the place we live. Or maybe soon, the place we lived. In either case: explore, go for walks, drink tea, visit art studios, eat pancakes, watch tugboats.

Sarah Jones (SJHS Class of 2003)
Visual Artist, Jones Gallery + Studio

Gallery Hop: A Recap



The best Hop in the history of Hops? The largest crowd I've ever seen & a perfect balance of our regular Hop supporters plus so many new faces (hello, visitors from Fredericton and Moncton!). And everyone seemed genuinely happy. It was Saint John at its most upbeat and positive. Sometimes I see glimpses of our little city being awesome - artists and creatives and art supporters and entrepreneurs all synchronizing and taking a moment to realize that we're doing something relevant. And I heard that the Saint John Theatre Company, James Mullinger, and every restaurant and bar in our uptown had a similarly successful (i.e.: full, sold-out, busy busy) evening. Well done, everyone. Let's do it again.  

Some frantically-snapped pre-Hop photos of the studio:

One of the paintings from the new PORT CITIES collection that left the studio last night:

Red Tanker, mixed media on canvas, 18"x36"

Red Tanker, mixed media on canvas, 18"x36"