For our debut Sunset Art Series on May 24th, we’re excited to exhibit a brilliant collection of oil paintings by our longtime friend and client Jon Parkinson. We’ve been fans of Jon’s figurative works for years, and he has even painted a few Hooligans, which will all be on display as we also celebrate the opening of our new terrace. To preview the show, we sat down with Jon to talk about his paintings and his craft.
HOOLIGAN: Your work is largely portraiture and landscape-driven. What draws you to this subject matter, and what inspires the particular subjects you choose to paint?
JON: Friends, family and places that are dear to me. I go to Martha’s Vineyard every summer, so I’ll be exhibiting some pieces from there, too, as well as Pienza, Italy, which I visited last year. I also have some portraits from my trips to the UK.
HOOLIGAN: Who are your influences as a painter?
JON: The British painter Lucian Freud has always been an inspiration to me. When I go back home to London, one of the first places I go to is the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a fascinating place to explore portraiture in any medium. I’m also a fan of Chuck Close. His unique large-scale works resonate with me, as I enjoy exploring and breaking down the physical features of my subjects in a way that it gives them a life of their own. Most of my portraits are ‘larger than life,’ with canvases going upwards of five feet.
HOOLIGAN: Please elaborate on your personal aesthetic:
JON: My work is hardly photo-real, but certainly representative. I like painting people who exude character. Oftentimes, a young face might be beautiful, but it’s not interesting. For instance, if you look at portraits from 200 and 300 years ago, depictions of children are always a little off, no matter how great the artist is, because there’s essentially less to distinguish in their face.
As I progress, I’ve also found that my aesthetic has become more stylized. For example, about five years ago, I did a painting of Eric, which he is bringing back to the show and, more recently, one of Kane; when you see those two paintings next to each other, it is interesting to see how my style has changed. But you never stop growing and learning and investigating. That’s what makes this creative journey so interesting and fun to me.
HOOLIGAN: Talk a little bit more about your art background process:
JON: Painting is my escape from the madness of working in the advertising industry. I didn’t get into it until much later in life, but when I was younger, I went to school for graphic design and film, so I’ve always had a creative streak as a visual artist. I got into painting when I lived in California, where I began painting my daughters. I soon found that I enjoyed portraiture a great deal.
The large-scale nature of my work and the medium through which I create has naturally evolved my process and style over the years. You see, as a part-time painter, I find myself letting the paint dry, then returning days or weeks later to alter and layer it until I achieve the right look and depth. I typically photograph my subjects and then work from an iPad. I’ve found that its luminosity offers the next best thing to being in the same room as the person. If I had the luxury of time and the ability for models to sit for days like Freud did, that would be great.
HOOLIGAN: Can you share some brief additional thoughts or retrospect on the paintings you did of Hooligan Partners Eric Carlson and Kane Platt, respectively?
JON: I painted Eric’s portrait about 4 years ago. At that time I approached it almost like capturing it in profile with a very regal attitude. Prince Eric of Brooklyn, etc. With Kane, who I painted a year ago, I gave him a very strong masterful attitude, looking up slightly to him. As one does in real life since he is so tall.
HOOLIGAN: There’s an expressive, stylized quality to your representative approach to depicting people. How much does your personal connection with these subjects factor into the end-result?
JON: I paint both people I know very well and many I don’t – but there is always a connection that I need to have with my subject. I have many that I’ve started on that I have to stop and come back to months later, or just give up on. I don’t feel bad, though, as I read years ago that Van Gogh destroyed half of his works himself.
HOOLIGAN: Lastly, what’s your favorite painting that you’ll be showing and why?
JON: That’s like being asked, “Who is your favorite child?” I love them all equally!