Born in Charlotte, NC, Jonathan grew up in the rural South Carolina sandhills where he learned to appreciate the solitude and austerity of the pine forests. He began painting in 2013, inspired by friendships with professional painters, and initially working in acrylics. Jonathan’s favorite subjects were portraits, but over the years he learned
to translate the landscape into lively scenes of the same vivacity and character.
In lieu of formal academic training, Jonathan’s art education was found in a decade of rigorous practice and experimentation. Taking to the field like the great French Impressionists, he studied the effect of light and the changing seasons by painting en plein air in the fields, swamps, and forests of the Carolinas.
Working primarily in oils for the past five years, Jonathan also paints in watercolors, carves traditional woodcuts for printmaking, sketches often in charcoal and graphite, and uses modern 3D rendering and AI software for conceptual studies. When he isn’t painting, Jonathan enjoys playing the violin and writing poetry.
My work is an archive of my personal impressions of the world around me. I try to approach my imagery with an objective detachment, painting what I see without attaching labels to the objects. Sometimes this results in particularly compelling scenes of the rural southern landscape I've been a part of for all of my life. I often intentionally omit the shadow cast by myself and my easel, preferring to imagine myself as part of the landscape and otherwise invisible.
When I'm not painting outdoors, I try to bring that same sense of spontaneity and naive curiosity to other subjects. I spent several years painting miniatures from reference photos cut from old magazines and textbooks. I approached painting in much the same way I taught myself to play music, by starting with the essence and working towards the particulars. I learned harmony and rhythm before learning to read classical notation; likewise, I learned to appreciate color and form before teaching myself to draw in detail.
I didn't begin painting until adulthood, but I've had a lifelong fascination with illustration and animation. The simplicity of form seen in cartoons and anime inspired me to draw comic illustrations as a child. I only shared them with close friends, and threw them away before starting another. These childhood sketches of funny little characters were a sort of initiation into the mysteries of fine art. It was only after a decade of practice that I realized the importance of those same broad cartoonish gestures in my studio paintings.
When I first began painting, I would sit quietly at a desk. I sat like a student, and I strove to match lines and colors with tiny brushes. Over time I learned to slide my chair further back and hold my brushes a bit more loosely. Now I always paint standing, and do my best work when I can sort of dance around the canvas. I impart as much motion from my entire body as possible, and allow that mysterious inner composure to help steady my lines. I try to achieve the elegance of a calligrapher in my brushwork.
When I actively engage with self expression in my personal projects, I draw on archetypal imagery. I often take inspiration from my memories and dreams, weaving the symbols into other subjects in order to convey a richer emotional meaning. With due appreciation for the ability of vision to transcend material understanding, and the power of color and tone to speak louder than words, I paint to share my understanding of the world. Whatever subject I choose to represent, however abstractly, I hold paramount the effect of the image on the viewer and my role in translating it.