Jerry grew up exploring the woods and wading the creeks in rural south Mississippi. This is where his love for all things outdoors began. Stalking small game (to see how close he could get before being detected), collecting arrow heads, and making plaster casts of animal tracks gave him an early education in the details of this beautiful world he would come to capture on canvas and in bronze. Late at night when the rest of his family was turning in he would use the quiet time to take pencil in hand and put to paper the wild things he found in the woods. He was particularly fond of the wildlife art on the front of the monthly magazines Outdoor Life and Field and Stream.
Jerry’s formal training did not begin until after serving his country in the Navy. Mustered out just prior to the end of the Vietnam War, Jones had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He had a young wife (Rena) and the GI Bill, so he registered as a freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi and pursued a degree in fine art. For many years after college Jerry set aside his art for family and his “day job”.
While working for a television station in Columbus, Mississippi, his boss, Frank Imes, gave him an opportunity to work on a mural in a downtown loft. After 19 years of not holding a brush, Jerry, with fear and trembling, agreed to tackle this room with its longest wall being a daunting 38 feet by 8 feet. Add to that, the owner wanted the four walls painted with a palette knife. Painting 3 to 4 hours four nights per week and 8 to 10 hours on Saturdays, the first wall took twelve months. The project took three years to complete and with it a discipline and commitment to perfect his craft was born.
Jerry currently divides his time between canvas and clay.
He is especially gifted to capture the movement, color and emotion of all God’s creatures, wild and domestic. “I am blown away by God’s beautiful creation. The sun reflecting off a wild turkey, a sunset or an approaching thunder storm stops me dead in my tracks for its sheer beauty and the emotions stirred. And sometimes I say out loud, ‘Good job, God! How did you do that?’ Then I go home and try to capture those sights and emotions on canvas or in clay. When I am finished I always feel like ‘You can do better than that, Jones.’ And, I start all over again.”
His dream of working in bronze was answered in 2014 when Jones met and studied under the late Jerry Gorum, a nationally known bronze sculptor, in Gorum’s studio in Glenmora, Louisiana. The two artists became close friends with their mutual love for family, art, nature and nature’s Creator. “I’ve never known anyone so generous with their time, energy and resources. He was not just willing to help me succeed; Jerry Gorum was determined to make me succeed as an artist.”
In his travels around the country, he has been an artist member of the Carbon County Art Guild (Red Lodge, MT), The Ouachita River Art Guild (West Monroe, LA) and the Mississippi Painter’s Society (Tupelo, MS). Jerry has participated in many exhibits and festivals as both a painter and sculptor. His bronze piece “Forty Yards Out” was honored in 2017 with Best in Show in the Art of the Hunt show in Charleston, MS and the sculpture award in 2018 at Arts Alive in Tullahoma, TN. Jerry recently completed a commission for the Women Veterans of the ArkLaTex. The six foot bronze was his mentor’s last commission. When Jerry Gorum lost his battle with cancer before he could sculpt the larger than life-size female military service person, Jones stepped in and completed the project. It will be installed in early March at the Veteran’s Memorial in Bossier City, Louisiana. You can see his work at www.jwjonesart.com or by visiting his studio located at 5540 Waterpointe Cove in Tupelo, Mississippi. Commissions are welcome.
“I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. It’s a gift that God gave me but what most people may not know is that drawing, painting or sculpting has more to with how a person “sees” more than what they mark on a piece of paper or canvas. An artist sees something interesting and they begin to study the object. Really study it. Like a history student would study dates and facts an artist studies objects, colors, design and even the emotion of the moment. That’s why preliminary drawings (and some paintings and sculptures) are called “studies”. It’s like note taking before a test. I try and take lots of notes because I see so much in this beautiful world that amazes me and I want to take it home with me. So I draw, I paint, I sculpt. If you take a child into the great outdoors they are always looking and exploring. They pick up rocks, sticks, a feather; anything can become a treasure from their big adventure. And, I’m just a kid at heart (I think most artist are). It’s also why I use a turkey feather as part of my signature. A feather is a work of art as well as an impossibly perfect design for flight. It also reminds me of where I want to be- outside, searching for hidden treasures. Or, as my grandson used to say- “side”. So, I call this collection of drawings, paintings and bronze sculptures The Wild ‘side. Rivers, trees, waterfowl, dogs, turkeys; you name it; if it exists in God’s great creation I’m interested. My work is representational but not photographic. I see what God has made and I want to capture it as realistically as possible but somewhere in the process I get caught up in the line or color and I let the nature of the Creator move through my heart and hands. I hope you enjoy the results.”