KiriLeigh Jones: A Very Open Studio
When KiriLeigh Jones won the Juxtapoz x Liquitex Timelapse contest this year, we were excited to meet the Denver-based artist on her home turf and see the painter in action. There she was, on a lift, painting a new mural, which turned out to be the ideal environment for a chat about how she developed her process, as well as the dynamics of making and sharing art with an audience in a public space.
"For most of my murals, I start with a sketch on my iPad, usually done quickly, as I like to keep it pretty vague so I can work on-the-spot. I freehand most things, so I just kind of show up and get going. I'm the kid on the first day of school who had a pencil and the one piece of paper, and that’s it. When I draw it out fully before, and maybe over-plan, it feels like I'm doing the work twice, and that doesn’t work for me.
"I’m asked what my ideal studio space would be, and I think mostly, it’s just my house. I have no idea if I would be more productive anywhere but my couch on my iPad, or just sketching. I don't necessarily see myself as someone who needs a lot of space. I have access to the Be a Good Person clothing company and their office in a really old building in Denver, so I could work in these larger spaces, but I just like sitting on my couch with my dog and being in my own space to work.
"I had been doing pretty intricate nail art for a long time before I started painting murals, and that was basically the same scenario as it is with my detailed murals—I knew I could paint really small details well. I played sports in college, so maybe I’m just used to doing performance or art in front of a crowd? Or under some sort of public eye? It’s natural for me. Being in nail art, you are used to seeing these really incredible details come to life in such a small space. That is the reason why I do a lot of these timelapse videos; I understand it's relaxing to watch, and there is such a fascination in watching art come to life.
"When the pandemic started, there was a part of me that was excited about being able to stay home and paint and draw. I got time to experiment with all the things that I wanted to try that I don't have time for because I'm always on the go, painting murals. When there was that last week of scramble before everything closed in March, my mom said to me, "Go get canvases. You need a thing!” I got a ton of canvases, and that's all I did during lockdown. I practiced portraits, did big flowers, small flowers… I just used that time, and I took it as an opportunity to do absolutely everything that I wanted to try. I hate saying this, but I had a really productive few months. That said, I’m very happy to be back on a lift, painting a mural, in my comfort zone." —KiriLeigh Jones