Sound Portraits by Jp Jones | Meet the Artist | Travelshopa

Image via JP Jones

JP JONES is an international contemporary artist and acclaimed musician, whose work has taken him all around the world. After being blown away by his latest work SOUND PORTRAITS, which was exhibited at the Camilla Boutique, Paddington, I was intrigued to learn more about the Welsh artist's creative process and the inspiration behind his work. Here, the new father shares his love of Caravaggio, why he unifies art and music, and how he celebrates his favourite classic songs.

My first art love was… Caravaggio. I loved the drama he created in religious scenes. His use of light and dark felt way ahead of its time. His understanding of perspective was almost back to front but felt correct. I get that! His work just stuck out to me when I was studying renaissance painters at school.

The turning point in my career was… when I took my ‘invention’ to a deaf school in London. I got the deaf students to make sounds into a microphone enabling them to see their own voices. I also played songs and they were able to watch the sound patterns of the laser’s reflection. It was an amazing experience to watch people who can’t hear seeing sound for the first time.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process? 

Sound portraits started after I watched a kids tv show! On the show they had cut both ends of a soup can and stretched a balloon over one end. They shone a torch through the other end and spoke into the can. When the balloon vibrated it created a light projection on the wall.

I then developed my technique by putting mirror on a speaker, and shining a laser beam on to the mirror. When the speaker vibrated to music it caused the mirror to move and the reflection of the laser created a sound projection on the wall. A literal visual representation of sound!

Sound Portraits by Jp Jones | Meet the Artist | Travelshopa

"A great work of art is in the eye of the beholder. A piece of art can be perfect to one person but not to the next." Jp Jones

A sound portrait is… a painting of the laser’s reflection to sound. I project the moving sound patterns to songs and words like “I love you” on to canvas and paint them. Sometimes incorporating portraiture and Celtic symbols that relate to the particular sound. I always start a sound portrait by building a structure (home) for the sound patterns to live inside. The colours I choose for each piece happen when I hear the sound over and over. I close my eyes and feel the colours.

I work with… acrylic paint, spray paint and oil pastels. I also make solar etchings where I photograph the sound patterns and transfer the photo on to solar plates and expose them to light and then etch the plates on a press.

The inspiration behind my latest series… was to create a group of paintings of songs that changed my life in one way or another. I wanted to affect the viewer as I was affected as a listener. Making each song speak in the same way on canvas as it does on record.

My latest series is… a celebration of classic songs. Rock and roll meets art.

Sound Portraits by Jp Jones | Meet the Artist | Travelshopa
Sound Portraits by Jp Jones | Meet the Artist | Travelshopa

My favourite subjects to paint are… the personal recordings. When people record “I love you” and I paint their words. The most poignant commission I did was when a lady’s husband had died and I painted the last answer machine message he left her. She has that message on her wall forever.

When I feel I’m stuck… I usually go into my music studio and write songs.

My creative influences… change all the time. At the moment I’m massively influenced by artists such as Retna, Gregory Siff and Danny Minnick. And all music. Always!

My top 5 songs right now…

Daughter – Loudon Wainwright lll

Sweet Thing – Van Morrison

Flim – Aphex Twin

Good Fortune – PJ Harvey

Flagship – Jason Isbell

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