My first first painting? A mural. [Laughs.] I was five. Red crayons on green wallpaper. A lot of crayons on a lot of wallpaper. Used the new and convenient 'sofa back scaffolding' to reach surprising heights. An abstract process piece because of all of the random markings. And a mural, because the crayons were applied directly to one entire living room wall. Very permanent. Somehow I survived. My parents divorced after that, probably not because of the mural.
Childhood was a challenging time but still a lot of fun. Although I didn't realize it then, I was learning to create something from nothing -- 'creatio ex nihilo', and that's proven absolutely invaluable.
Also during that time my father was training astronauts for moon missions. He was a very powerful influence. Weekend visits to NASA with him showed me firsthand how to harness the power of imagination and the importance of using focused thought to achieve any seemingly impossible goal.
Contrast the at-the-time sci-fi world of NASA with the sleepy pre-Silicon Valley neighborhood I grew up in. There was a sizeable apple orchard across the street, there were wooded hills a five minute drive away, and large areas of open space nearby. I was blessed with a lot of smart and wonderful close friends as well, from many different backgrounds. We all gained a real sense of diversity from the mix.
Learning about our differences, however, made me acutely aware of how different I was. Although comfortable around people, I always felt a bit like a visiting alien. After a year at college there I couldn't wait to leave. Soon after I did, moving to my first stop -- Los Angeles. That single decision was life changing and led me to my passion -- Art.
West Valley College [WVC] Saratoga, CA; Santa Monica College [SMC] Santa Monica, CA; School of Visual Arts [SVA] New York, NY
Wherever you start, remember everything hinges on harnessing your imagination, which means focusing thought. Step one of 'focusing thought' for me was to get the best education, at the best school or institution, in the best place I possibly could.
I started at WVC studying Architecture and Drama, then transferred to SMC where my Drawing professor advised me to pursue an art career in Manhattan. So I did.
I was accepted into SVA's Fine Arts program. There I was in Manhattan, living on the Upper East Side, working full-time to pay the bills while carrying a full course load. Living the 'New York machine' taught me the most important lesson of my life -- if you want to succeed you must give at least 200% of yourself, more if necessary.
Leaving SVA after completing my second year, I interned for a prominent Manhattan interior designer whose Park Avenue clients included the duPont's, Whitney's and vonStade's.
I also became acquainted with the Interior Design industry while interning at several prominent showrooms in Manhattan's noteworthy Design & Decoration (D&D) Building. At the same time I interned as an assistant for an internationally known SoHo artist. Absolutely invaluable experiences.
After studying Fine Art, working in the Interior Design field made me feel way off-course, but I soon discovered the opposite was true. The Design industry was actually the perfect place to begin mural painting because mural projects are primarily offered through the design community.
My first professional mural, "Homage to Dali", was painted in a Murray Hill penthouse (with artist Desca Duncan who later became mayor of Lake Park, Florida), and was commissioned by the Newport cigarette billboard model at that time.
Soon after that commission I made the difficult decision to go solo, and began meeting with in-house creatives at Estee Lauder, Robert A.M. Stern, Philip Johnson, Jack Brown, who represented my patrons, each at the tops of their field.
After seven years in New York I moved back to California, landing on San Francisco‘s Nob Hill where I rented a beautiful apartment and a sizable art studio.
There I began painting murals for San Francisco and Marin patrons during the days of my second venture, Paintworks, offering murals, drawings, paintings, faux finishes and hand-painted furniture. Being the sole creative force stretched me thin, so I soon found myself assisted by an excellent team -- a Personal Assistant, Business Manager, Secretary, Videographer and an Ad man, as well as a Project Development team.
One Paintworks project was a Designer Showcase was at Saratoga, California's Villa Montalvo, where my team and I donated time and art to co-create an artist-in-residence suite on the mansion's second floor.
During this same period I began traveling to Europe, including but not limited to Paris, Rome, Munich, Brussels and Amsterdam. La Maison Montbron is a result of one such trip.
Back in California the availability of an even larger live/work space prompted a move to a 2000-square-foot studio by Oakland, California's Lake Merritt. There I produced non-stop, including a series called “The Doors” featuring eight abstractly painted doors which focus on the effects of the Industrial Revolution; and "The Tree of Knowledge" (see Commission Highlights), surrealistic in style and accompanied by 22 Caran-d'Ache drawings. Around that same time I taught drawing and painting seminars to public school teachers thru a then very new Phoenix University -- thirty-plus public school teachers for three hours per session. Each education professional paid me a high compliment -- I offer valuable information.
Several years later I returned to the East Coast, moving to the Jersey Shore for love, and to explore new artistic directions. I began painting abstract nudes like "Male Religion" and religious pieces like "The First Supper".
Then, to re-enter the New York art world, I entered a juried competition for the first-ever CD-ROM virtual exhibition "Virtuosity" at the Park Avenue Armory (Park Av/E66) and was selected to exhibit (The Vineyard). Of over 10,000 artists worldwide who entered the competition, I was one of 300 chosen.
During the 2000's I decided to paint canvases almost exclusively, for the purpose of exploring new imagery. The Early Walk series (2005) marked the beginning of a new way of painting as well. I discovered that the previous mural painting allowed me to infuse that same kind of mural depth into canvases. I continued to accept canvas commissions even though being a studio artist was clearly becoming my preferred choice.
These recent years have continued to be filled with adventure, exploration, wild dreams, and many larger-than-life experiences. I am still very thankful, and very grateful, to be an Artist.
Summary / Additional
a. For nearly 3 decades I've been commissioned to create Realistic and Abstract paintings and murals.
b. My patrons reside in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia.
c. My paintings have been exhibited in both private and commercial galleries in New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.
d. After painting large murals for many years, it's interesting to note that some of my current canvases average just twelve by twelve inches. The interesting thing about the size change is that when you use the energy it takes to create a large scale mural and condense that energy onto a small canvas, you get these incredibly strong paintings. My patrons love them.
e. My paintings and murals are in esteemed private collections, while I've retained ownership of over 30 pieces.
f. My personal collection includes: Paintings (realistic, abstract, mixed media, experimental); Drawings (charcoal, pen and ink, pencil -- abstract, realistic, mixed media); Digital Art; Custom painted furnishings.
... Patron: (noun) One who protects, fosters, countenances or supports some person or thing: a protector or benefactor
All images and text © 2019 Eric Jonsson. All rights reserved.
U n i t e d S t a t e s E u r o p e S o u t h A m e r i c a A s i a