One of America’s greatest artists died this morning. Jeff Jones was among science fiction and fantasy’s premiere visual story-tellers. He handled oil paint and brush as if he was merely revealing the magic and beauty held within the canvas, like wiping away the white to show the color beneath.
Nothing ever felt labored in his work. His prolific output made it seem as if he had to get the stacks of ideas out of himself, through oil, watercolor, or pen and ink. As Jeff’s abilities grew, so did his sophistication, and yet I always felt the exploration in his concepts to capture a child-like playfulness, no matter how serious the subject. This leant a certain agelessness to everything. From his early Frazetta influence, he pushed the work more toward his own star and progressed to one of the genre’s most unique voices.
Jones’ series, “Idyll,” released his deft of hand. Perhaps more than the oil work, his ink and brush paintings surpassed even the world’s greatest artists for skill. Dense fields of black are a signature mark held in stunning display by equally copious amounts of white space. Jones understood that relationship so well, it borders on perfection, like his designs were predestined. Again, like the page revealed itself to Jeff, and he merely followed invisible guidelines in his eye.
It’s easy to say his work influenced my own. It isn’t the actual technique that drives so much as his ability to express his own particular world, and the images that lived within him.
Trailer for the in-progress Jeff Jones documentary, “Better Things.”