When I was a kid living out in the country in the Shenandoah Valley, I loved to watch the constant movement of water and listen to the sounds of smaller rivers that fed into the Shenandoah River. I noticed changes caused by heavy rains and liked to trace the path of a river in the distance by the trees that grew beside it.
At this point in my life I appreciate the juxtaposition of constant change with the continuity of the river over time. I enjoy exploring the distinct seasonal changes, which mirror the seasonal rhythm I experience with my work. I’ve taught art for 36 years, and the changes of the school year create variations in the time I have for doing my own artwork. I’ve learned to use the fluctuations to detach from my work, and return later with a more objective vantage point to evaluate its “staying power,” or ability to stand the test of time, and to bring to it a refreshed sense of direction.
The river has become a reflection of the fluidity of my life. Beneath the constant motion and sound of the superficial activity, below the overall sense of continuity, change is happening over time -- usually in subtle ways, like the smoothing of rock, or the carving of the land, and sometimes in abrupt and drastic ways.
The use of different media is one expression of the subtle variations and changes. I like the contrasting feel of working in the “wet medium” of oil paint and washes, and the “dry” of pastel. I enjoy exploring ways one scene can be interpreted using a variety of drawing and painting tools, paper surfaces and different media.
As a child, I wondered where the river came from, and when I look at it now, it still seems not to end, creating a sense of mystery. I find it reassuring that life is smoothing out edges in me, and that underneath the surface, creative change is an ongoing reality.
Dale Jones is a mature artist with a quiet confidence that comes from experience. His patient and meditative approach allows him to perform the difficult task of image making so gracefully that it looks effortless.
Drawing is the art of noticing. In many ways Jones’ drawings, whether accomplished with pencil, pastel or paint, surpass photographic ‘realism’ due to a heightened focus on objects seen, felt, experienced and recreated into a landscape of pigment traveling across the terrain of the page. Every mark and line is an intentional path of vision, and we are invited on that journey: marks are layered into textured masses and analyze eddies; hues skitter to capture leafy exhuberance and intermingle into atmospheric haze; paper surfaces are eroded or submerged by the artist’s physical actions.
Focusing his hushed enthusiasm on the James River area in Richmond, Virginia, Jones’ landscapes become visual meditations on the science of light and the joy of creation. Each image becomes a shimmering window in a safe, natural sanctuary where we are lead to pause, exhale, and share in the cool flow of sacred time.
Trained as an educator, with 36 years experience teaching art, Jones now provides a ministry of vision; the artist’s deliberate searching and savoring leads us to notice and recognize a world where all is right in the sight of God. This exhibition honors the spirit of Trever Bennett, whose watercolors of the West depicted a land that she observed as carefully as Jones observes his beloved Virginia rivers.
Trudi Ludwig Johnson, Curator Dadian Gallery