Ever considered a domesticated animal’s thoughts? Most likely, they revolve around their human companions. After all, a pet’s needs and desires is up to its human. With wild animals, however, the concept is much harder to imagine. Which of our features stick out to them most? What do we remind them of? Does our presence elicit any other feelings besides fear? Artist Naomi Jones explores such concepts through her acrylic paintings of animals and people.
“My show, ‘I Spy,’ is about making eye-contact with animals,” Jones states. “I’m trying to subtly draw attention to how soulful animals are, as well as human beings’ responsibility to them.”
With a background in photography, home furnishings and fashion, the well-rounded artist finds catharsis in painting. She spends most time creating in her home studio.
“I love the act of painting,” Jones states. “I love the repetitive strokes of the brush on canvas, and creating edges with the paint.”
As for inspiration, she is almost always drawn to animals that possess a certain vulnerability. “I paint rabbits a lot, along with other animals at the bottom of the food chain,” Jones says. “I also paint polar bears often.”
While rabbits and polar bears seemingly compare on opposite spectrums, from an artist’s perspective, they have several surprisingly similar qualities. At least that’s what Jones concludes through paint and brush.
“Rabbits especially have a great combination of hard lines and soft lines,” she clarifies. “The same applies to polar bears. I love the contrast of color in polar bears and other white animals, such as the whiteness of the fur against the darkness of their eyes.”
Other commonalities come from the fact they almost are in danger constantly. While a wild rabbit is liable to become another creature’s next meal at any given moment, a polar bear’s resources are dwindling away faster than they can find the next habitable area.
“I’ve been hearing more stories of the arctic melting, and polar bears losing their habitats,” Jones tells. Such paintings are her tool to educate and remind the public of creatures who suffer directly within the face of disregard for our environment.
Jones’ paintings of rabbits and other prey animals provoke viewers to think about methods of self-preservation and how they relate to our own ways of life. “It’s a funny thing,” Jones says, “because the older I get, the more I’m draw to them. I’ve also been painting a lot of portraits of women. I think women can especially relate to rabbits.”
Jones’ notion is based on a rabbit scavenging for food in an open field: The animal must first put an equal amount of effort into protecting itself by checking surroundings for predators and pinpointing potential escape routes. A woman walking alone to her car at night, for example, must do the same—to not bring any unwanted attention as a target by showing fear. Awareness of surroundings and potential assent parallel the two.
“Everything preys on rabbits,” Jones says, “so, I really feel for them, but the ones that I paint are very strong-willed.”
Feisty creatures they are, a rabbit under attack will fight for its life to death. In a new wave of feminism currently sweeping society, women and girls are encouraged now more than ever to speak up for themselves, to fight with and for one another against patriarchal traditions. Jones’ paintings of women usually portray strong female figures throughout history, as seen in “Frida”—an acrylic piece depicting the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Sponsored by Art in Bloom Gallery, Platypus and Gnome will open “I Spy: Art by Naomi Jones” on Thursday, June 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free to the general public, and all pieces of art are for sale. The exhibit will remain on display at Platypus and Gnome until Aug. 21.