Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones
In a style that was markedly influenced by his contemporaries Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta, Jeff Jones created fantasy and science fiction illustration through the 1960’s and 70’s that was distinguished by strong use of color and texture and a wonderful sense of line within his painterly delineation of form.

Jones was also a comics artist and for a time shared a studio with Berni Wrightson, Michael Kaluta and Barry Windsor-Smith (see my previous post on Windsor-Smith). For a few years in the 1970’s Jones contributed a regular one page strip to the National Lampoon called Idyl, which never seemed to be about anything exactly, but was beautifully drawn in Jones’ distinctive pen and ink style that is somehow simultaneously spare and lush.

In addition to the fantasy artists who informed his early work, Jones has explored the territory carved out by illustrators like N.C. Wyeth as well as romantic painters like John William Waterhouse and James McNeil Whistler.

Over the years Jones moved away from illustration and began to paint directly for gallery exhibition. At the same time his style evolved, picking up colors and compositional elements from Expressionism. His more recent work is sometimes more fully realized, sometimes loose, but always filled with variety in color, texture and subject.

6 Replies to “Jeff Jones”

  1. Thanks for a very interesting treatment of Jones. I am somewhat baffled by her work because, more than any other current illustrator, she has had such a wide disparity between her best and worst work. Does anyone else feel the same way? Her best work is truly breathtaking– brilliant, strong, clear designs, sensitive drawing, bold compositions, lovely colors– in many ways superior to the work of Jones’ one-time idol, Frazetta. Yet, there is also a lot of work out there that misses completely. Comic book art where the drawing is simply awful. Drawings where you can tell she is trying to use shadow and gimmicks to conceal a basic lack of substance. Everyone has off days, but this kind of disconnect between the highs and lows is extremely unusual in my experience.

  2. I’m still not used to calling Jones “she” (Jones underwent a sex change operation). I’ve noticed the discrepency you point out. I always assumed it was a matter of enthusiasm (or lack of it) for various works. Jones is apparently a troubled individual and at one point was hospitalized for several months as the result of a nervous breakdown. We can only hope that he (she) is doing well and will be gracing us with more wonderful paintings and drawings.

  3. Jones is probably my favourite fantasy artist; when he is at his best (like here, here, here, here, here and here) she creates images with a staggering beauty, atmosphere and presence. Like no other fantasy artist she can fill her images with that otherwordliness that is the most notable feature of the greatest written fantasies.
    I agree that the quality varies wildly though. Maybe she’s extremely dependent on inspiration to create or maybe she’s just unable to decide what work to publish and what to discard, but it’s strange non the less. I personally find her her realistic stuff much more interesting and the more impressionistic and abstract (and perhaps more recent?) work far less appealing, but there are exceptions to that rule as well.
    I hadn’t heard about the operation or the nervous breakdown before, but I too hope that she feels better and feel compelled to keep on working. (It seems like many skilled artists are psychologically fragile, for instance have both Barry Windsor-Smith and Jean “Moebius” Giraud also gone through their own mental or perhaps philosophical crises that have had great effects on their lives.)

  4. i’ve always been a jones fan; can remember when i was kid hanging out at the creation convention in ’77 and jones gave me a beautiful sketch for free. personally, i’ve always thought it was the sudden death of his friend bode that had kind of messed him up.

  5. I love Jeff Jones’ work. I wish it was easier to find in one spot! Also, I had been thinking that I love hearing your replies but I never know when to check back and I’m sure other people might feel the same way. You might benefit from one of the same plugins I use on my own wordpress:
    Subscribe to comments has helped me get some users to return in the past, and I know I’d definitely appreciate something like that! 😉

  6. From what I’ve heard Jeff Jones never had any surgery. However, he has had (estrogen) hormone injections so he has lost his beard developed female breasts. Confused fellow—claims he’s a lesbian trapped in a man’s body. His (second) wife didn’t take too well to the idea and left, resulting in a complete mental breakdown and a loss of all of his personal possessions. Jones may still be in a group home. Sad case, and such a prodigious talent. I pray he comes to grips with his manhood. After all, one can’t change one’s DNA or chromosomes! XY is XY, not XX.

    He quit commercial art, claiming it is ‘immoral.’ An easy stance to assume when he had a rich buyer who purchased all of his work in the ’80s and ’80s, but when the patron left, that was the beginning of his crisis.

    Most comics fans now don’t even know who Jones is. Very sad. A great talent!

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