By Judith van Berkom –
As a third grader in Pleasant Park, Alta Vista, David Jones’ teacher, Miss Robertson, sent a note home with his report card. David showed talent and an aptitude for art, and she recommended his parents buy some art supplies. His mother set him up with new paints and brushes and a broken tea cup and saucer. She poured turpentine in the cup, and the saucer became his first palette. This is how Jones came to paint his first piece of art, which he still has in his collection.
When Jones was in eighth grade, representatives from the Board of Education travelled from school to school looking for students interested in visual arts, music, or drama. Canterbury High School opened the following year, in 1969. Jones was one of the first graduates of the visual art class five years later.
Jones also studied clarinet in his last year at Canterbury. “I wanted to be the next Benny Goodman,” he says, but visual art won out. He attended the University of Ottawa during its so-called “golden years” of visual art and studied under Kenneth Lochhead, famous for changing the face of landscape art in Canada and for the establishment of Emma Lake, a summer arts retreat. Lochhead was brought to Ottawa to teach and taught a summer course, which had the students painting outdoors in 1978. “It changed my life completely,” says Jones.
Jones also learned to push the boundaries of landscape painting from Lochhead.
“My studio is the outdoors,” says Jones, where he works in oils as well as watercolours. “It’s fine to work from photos, but better to be in the landscape – it raises the bar of landscape painting and becomes more personal.”
In 1981, Jones received a special commission to be Canada’s war artist for the Canadian navy in Victoria, BC. Three of his paintings were part of an exhibit that toured Canada in 1985 along with works by Arthur Lismer, Alex Colville and William Ogilvy.
Jones has taught adult art courses in the evenings for over the past 33 years. Four of his former students have also been involved with the West End Studio Tour: Manju Sah, Jeff Wiebe, Barbara Zuchowicz, Edwina Sutherland (who is taking a year off), and Alice Hinther (who is no longer part of the tour).
Jones also devotes a lot of time to inspiring younger artists.
He volunteers in Ottawa schools where he becomes the “resident landscape artist” for a week, setting up his materials and working in an area where students and staff can watch his painting evolve. He does this to instill confidence in young artists, and demonstrate the time, talent, and expertise needed to produce a good piece of art.
Click here to read profiles of the other artists on the West End Studio Tour.