Heather MacQueen Jones is featured artist at Honeycomb Cafe in September
Heather MacQueen Jones is deep in thought as she considers how to rearrange a few of her paintings that adorn the walls of Daniel Island’s Honeycomb Cafe during the month of September. For Jones, the proper juxtaposition of color, lines and forms is critical - not only on canvas, but as part of the viewer’s personal experience of the exhibit as a whole.
“I love harmony,” insists Jones. “That’s what I’m seeking to create for my exhibit here at Honeycomb, it’s what I seek in life.” Movement is also a signature style element in the artist’s works. “I like to blur the lines with paint. I guess you could call me a ‘loose and interpretational’ painter,” confesses Jones.
“I’ve chosen to work with oil paints not only because oils are so beautiful but,” she continues, “because they don’t dry quickly. I can go back and change things the next day. Oil paints let me move things around to create the harmony I desire.”
A native of North Carolina, Jones attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, with a focus on political science and communications. A resident of Daniel Island since 2001, Jones loves the home in Smythe Park that she shares with husband Stephen Jones, son Miles (a junior at Academic Magnet) and daughter Lilly (an eighth grader at Daniel Island School).
Jones began her formal career as an advertising account executive selling advertising space for a radio station, followed by a job selling space on roadside billboards. She currently runs her own billboard advertising consulting firm, LocalDigitalBillboards.com.
“My real passion, however, was collaborating with my clients to come up with the perfect design layout for a billboard ad,” she reflects. “The overall look and visual experience of the ad is always really important to me. In hindsight, I guess I was always a creative person.”
Although Jones was on a solid career track, her upward trajectory was halted by three consecutive personal tragedies: first, the sudden death of her sister following by the passing of her grandfather, and a final blow with the traffic death of her father when she was 7 months pregnant with Lilly. She needed a way to work through her grief and pain and find balance and harmony in her life.
“Tragedies are life changing events, “ comments Jones. She realized that raising her children was “really what life was all about.”
One day, Jones began channeling her creative healing energies while holding her son in her lap. Using acrylic paints, she began crafting images of friendly dinosaurs on the walls of his room. The activity proved not only healing but revealing - as the new mother realized that painting was the ideal creative outlet. Jones soon traded in acrylics for the movement and color intensity of working with oil paints. She also knew it was time to go to work…at least as far as her new passion was concerned.
“On my 40th birthday I went on a Plein Air painting workshop in Italy with friend and favorite Lowcountry artist, Karen Hewitt Hagan (HaganFineArt.com). I learned a lot about my weaknesses as a painter, but enjoyed the experience! I came home and kept practicing, reading as much as I could and visiting galleries downtown as often as I could to learn from others.”
Serendipitously, Jones was introduced to acclaimed artist and teacher Elizabeth “Emmy” Bronson (ElizabethBronsonStudios.com). The two met because Daniel Island resident Alicia Ward of Ward Communications, LLC was creating a professional/emerging artist event featuring Emmy and asked Jones to collaborate.
“I was inspired by Emmy’s incredible talent, and the celebration of moments captured on canvas at our event,” recalls Jones. “I decided to become very intentional with my painting.
Jones takes weekly painting lessons at Bronson’s McClellanville studio alongside other student artists. “Emmy is not only my teacher, she’s my mentor and friend,” insists Jones.
At the exhibit featuring Jones’ work at Honeycomb, viewers will notice swatches of colorful fabric, pinned next to each painting. The swatches are to guide viewers – and prospective buyers - to consider how each painting might fit with the palette of colors within their own homes.
“I try to tell a story with my paintings,” she says. “It’s so important for me to capture fleeting moments that carry special meaning.”
Jones counts among her fondest memories her second trip to Italy – this time with her family - at the seaside village of Gaeta. She also holds dear a memory of an early morning view of a French sunflower field that the artist and her son witnessed on their train ride from France to Italy. The artist also captured her daughter Lilly as a young girl as well as a mountain range in the Rockies to which the artist longed to return.
“I wanted painting to be as joyful an experience as it could be. And it is. Just like my kids. They can be frustrating at times. So is the experience of learning how to paint. But I love painting nearly as much as I love my kids. And I want to share this joy with others.”
Of all the different outdoor scenes she’s captured on canvas, which one does Jones consider her favorite to paint?
“The sky,” she replies without hesitation. “The clouds are always moving, constantly changing the appearance of the sky. It’s a dynamic layout of colors lines and shapes – even when the sky looks grey, there are still a lot of colors playing there. I love the challenge of trying to capture them all.”
Jones’ work will be on display at Honeycomb Cafe throughout the month of September. For more information on the artist, visit her website at http://www. macqueenjones.com.