By Jennifer Stultz Editor
Lori Jones of Lazy J Ranch between Coldwater and Medicine Lodge loves to draw. It’s been her calling in life since she was a child, a calling she enthusiastically shared last weekend in Pratt at the Vernon Filley Art Museum.
Jones was in town March 4 to lead a Friday lunch and learn session at the Filley. She returned for two more days, March 5 and 6, to share her talents and drawing expertise with special workshop attendees, also at the Filley.
Jones said she is very excited to teach again, having taught 4-H groups, high school and college art classes in the past, including at Pratt. Carving out time for her craft while being a full-time mother, wife and rancher with her husband, David, was difficult, but it was also something she felt compelled to do.
“There are times when I just have to say, ‘I’m sorry, but today I can’t check the calves or move the cattle. I draw today. “Said Jones. “I like the fact that I have a studio at my house. It really was a dining room with high vaulted ceilings which I first thought was completely impractical. But now it’s the perfect gallery for my drawings, and the light is great.
It is the combination of ranch life and attention to light that brings out the genius of Jones’ pencil drawings. The details of a braided horse’s mane or the leather tooling of a saddle are so defined that they look like part of a photograph.
“That’s actually the best compliment anyone can give me; that my work looks like a photograph,” Jones said. “I struggle with details all the time. I want it to look realistic and when it doesn’t sometimes my best tool is the lighter I keep at my desk.
Jones shared some pencil drawing tips with her audience on Friday that included her own recent discoveries.
“I’m not a girl-girl so I don’t use a lot of makeup,” she said. “But I’ve found that blush brushes are the best tool for putting graphite powder on. If you mess up, take it out and start again. This makeup brush is a wonderful tool.
Using graphite powder (ordered from Amazon), Jones said she could complete a project in 30 seconds, compared to hours with other methods.
“I’m a fast performer,” she said. “That’s why I like pencils so much. You have an immediate result, you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry. I’m impatient, but I like detailed work, so pencils are still my medium of choice.
Other tips Jones developed include her method of gridding project plans so she can focus on one small space at a time and the details of that space. She said she also had to learn to draw what she sees, using this method, not what she knows or thinks should be there.
“You have to disconnect your brain and only draw what’s there,” she said.
She uses an erase mask to create light lines on a dark background, she knows from experience not to mix charcoal and graphite powder on the same project, she pays attention to where the light is coming from and always carries her camera with her on the ranch because that’s where her inspiration comes from.
“Wherever my eyes rest, I see art,” Jones said. “The blue shadow under the belly of rolling thunder, the shadows cast on a set of dusty pens, the texture and weave of a saddle blanket in the fading light, the shape of a horse’s hip leaning against a rope. I’m blessed to be able to live it every day, blessed by God with the desire and ability to put it on paper and lucky enough to be able to share it with the world. Jones’s drawings , most
Jones’ drawings, many depicting scenes from life at the Lazy J Ranch, are now on display at the Vernon Filley Art Museum, with many special prints for sale in the gift shop.