Shane Jones Artist

Shane Jones lives and works in Abbotsford and Ballarat, Victoria. He is represented by Charles Nodrum Gallery and The Art Vault. Shane has been making art for over 35 years you can see his website at and follow his blog here


Shane, do you have any interests other than art you feel are important to mention?

Cinema, theatre, music, sport. Although it’s hard to say what impact these interests have on my art practice, apart from horse racing, which is a subject I am now engaged with.

What are the main medium/s you work in…

Mainly painting, but sometimes printmaking and sculpture.

Irreversible, 2005, oil on linen, 61 x 50.5 cm

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other? 

My work is realistic but the subject matter is not always what is depicted. I see it as a mixture of  the realistic, the conceptual and the philosophical.

How important is art for you?

There is nothing more important than art in all its forms. At its highest level, art shows us the best that human beings can do, and excellence and imagination can only inspire one and enrich one’s life. It’s the only form of true magic we know, since it’s beyond technical tricks that can be explained in a manual or a  secret that can be passed on.

Missing, 2010, oil on canvas, 83.5 x 60.5 cm

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

I had been working as an artist for nearly 20 years before I went to art school, but  my work changed a lot when I did. I think what art school taught me was that instead of painting an object for its own sake, the greater aim was to paint an idea. Since art is an extension of your thoughts, then if you change your thinking you change your art. I didn’t need to change my realist style, rather it was more that I added something to it.

Quodlibet, 2006, oil on canvas, 122.5 x 81.5 cm

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

I did not grow up in a visual art environment but I was always encouraged in art by my school teachers. There was a retired policeman who lived down the road, a Mr. Thompson, who once studied drawing at the National Gallery Art School at nights and  he was also encouraging. I grew up in Mordialloc, Victoria, which was then an important horse racing area and I became an apprentice jockey in my teens. This is significant at this time because I am making a body of work with horse racing as a subject.

Self Portrait, 2009, oil on linen, 35 x 25 cm

What or who inspires your art?

Artists, both historical and contemporary, have always inspired me, but life does too. Artists show you what can be achieved and life provides the experience and subject matter that leads to the making of art. I also think that if you see your own art progress, then that can be an inspiration too.

The Famous Straight Six, 2013, oil on linen, 76 x 91.5 cm

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…

The word success is often misused where art is concerned. It usually means how many sales you have had or how your career is coming along. Artists like Van Gogh, Cezanne and Constable for example, were highly successful artists although they made little money from their work and had relatively insignificant careers. I think the best you can do as an artist is to move someone silently, inside, and this power is independent of the politics, marketing and fashions of the art world. If you can do this, especially for viewers of the future, then you are a successful artist.

Untitled #22, 1998, oil on canvas, 183 x 91.5 cm

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

I work mostly from life, so I don’t rely on preparatory drawings or sketches. I generally have a good idea of what the finished picture might look like before I start, and sometimes I carry an idea in my head for years before I act on it. Working from life can sometimes give me ideas I could never make up, like someone being in a particular spot, the play of light or the fall of a shadow. I love detail, so my paintings need many sittings to complete. Recently, I have been exploring the subject of horse racing, but I have had to rely on photography to make these works, so my philosophy of working directly from life has changed. It’s impossible to get a horse to pose, especially when you want the image to be of a horse in motion.

Untitled #26, 1999, oil on linen, 152 x 83.5 cm

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?

For me, art is light and space which is greater than its subject matter. Light and space give life to ideas and energize the mark making, but art is also the combination of craftsmanship, thinking and feeling. Sometimes subject matter is mistaken for the art, by that I mean that great and noble subject matter does not automatically mean great art. There can be more art in a simple still life than walls filled with political or social commentary.

Untitled #46, 1999, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 cm

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?

Craftsmanship means that an artist directly thinks and feels through the hands. If artists cannot make images with clarity, then they cannot fully bring their art into the world. Something beautifully made is not just about skill,  it’s about being involved in what you do, loving what you make. From a technical point of view, if making art is worth doing, then you owe it to your art to make it last.

Untitled #73, 2000, oil on  canvas, 152 x 83.5 cm

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?

Much of my work is based on identity considered through the questions – Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Since these questions cannot yet be answered, it means that we do not understand who we really are. My work is based on the idea of identity as a question rather than a definition. I am also interested in space as something that contains mystery, which reflects the three questions.

I have always avoided story telling in my work, but now the horse racing subjects have perhaps provided me with a narrative to explore, which is reflected in the titles. It has also directed my attention away from an interior space into a more open dimension.

Untitled #87, 2001 oil on canvas 152 x 101.5 cm

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?

Two come to mind. Once a person said to me that I am not a real artist because I paint from life. But on several other occasions others have said that my work looks like I love what I paint.

Untitled #102, 2002 oil on canvas 110 x 91.5 cm

How do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?

When I see my early works I sometimes wish I could retouch them. But I have also been pleasantly surprised to see works that don’t look too bad. Whatever I think of them, the one consistent thought I have is that it was the best I could do at the time.

Untitled #104, 2003,oil on canvas, 91 x 50.5 cm

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?

My local library was one of the most important locations for me when I started as an artist because it was the only way I could access great art. There was not one book that inspired me but the many books I discovered on the shelves. Too many to name.

Untitled #109, 2003, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?

I have a place to work at home, but since I paint from life I have to be adaptable. I have painted portraits at the sitter’s home, painted at racetracks, the country side, street scenes from inside the car, in small rooms, large rooms, in windy conditions and in very hot or cold temperatures. So long as I can see the work in a good light then all other problems can usually be managed.

Untitled #110, 2004, oil on canvas, 102 x 92 cm

Is your work process fast or slow?

Sometimes it can take a year or two for a work to be completed, not that I am continuously working on that one piece, but rather it was the time it took to finish it. On other occasions it can take a month or two or a week or two, and I sometimes retouch a painting several years later. When painting outdoors, bad weather can mean long delays between painting sessions. I have never finished a painting in an afternoon though, unless it was a quick sketch for its own sake, which would remain the finished work.

Waiting for the Winner,2012, oil on plywood, 40 x 40 cm

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?

I think that is a great description of what a work of art should do and it’s what I would like to achieve with my own work.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

For many years my ideas have been expressed through still life and self-portraiture, which means I can set things up in the studio and work on them. This allows me to begin a work and see it through to the end before I start another one. But since I have been painting outside for these last few years, and as the weather can influence when I work on a painting, I now have a number of things in progress at the same time. I can have up to 5 paintings in different stages of development.

Tell us your most memorable art experience growing up.

When I began to study art seriously I found the most difficult questions to consider were how do you become an artist and what does this mean. For many years I thought about art and experimented with many techniques but made little progress. I finally went to London in 1981 and  came across the small outdoor oil sketches of John Constable in the Victoria and Albert Museum. This was a turning point in my studies because I saw for the first time that I should be working from life, and this important revelation has stayed with me ever since.

Does the sale of your Artwork support you?

I have never made a living from my art practice, but sometimes I think this might be a good thing for me. Since I paint slowly, I need a lot of time to make a single work or prepare for an exhibition, so I would need to sell my work for large prices to live off it, but this does not happen. I also like the idea of having time to think about what I am doing and experimenting, without the pressures of selling. Throughout my life I have had a several jobs like jockey, bricklayer, bicycle courier, self-service petrol station attendant, taxi driver, track-work rider, part-time art teacher and to date I have a small lawn mowing round which I’ve had for many years.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2013+

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LIST OF WORKS – From top

Irreversible, 2005, oil on linen, 61 x 50.5 cm

Missing, 2010, oil on canvas, 83.5 x 60.5 cm

Quodlibet, 2006, oil on canvas, 122.5 x 81.5 cm

Self Portrait, 2009, oil on linen, 35 x 25 cm

The Famous Straight Six, 2013, oil on linen, 76 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #22, 1998, oil on canvas, 183 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #26, 1999, oil on linen, 152 x 83.5 cm

Untitled #46, 1999, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 cm

Untitled #73, 2000, oil on canvas, 152 x 83.5 cm

Untitled #87, 2001, oil on canvas 152 x 101.5 cm

Untitled #102, 2002, oil on canvas 110 x 91.5 cm

Untitled #104, 2003, oil on canvas, 91 x 50.5 cm

Untitled #109, 2003, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Untitled #110, 2004, oil on canvas, 102 x 92 cm

Waiting for the Winner, 2012, oil on plywood, 40 x 40 cm


One Response to “Shane Jones Artist”

  1. jean paton on January 9th, 2017 9:08 pm

    I saw your work for the first time at W.A.G i was fascinated. I am 74 this year and have been really interested in visiting galleries in the last couple of years. As I and i assume many others find your work intriguing i wondered if the spelling mistake on the drawing of a computer was deliberate. I really like your work.You mention wishing you could captivate i believe you have achieved this.

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