Robert “Sparrow” Jones has an in depth knowledge of paint, color and contrast. Before he was a painter he thought he might be a writer (his father was an English teacher and he was interested in storytelling). But his career path veered from one art form to another.

“I was first interested in books and movies, like those by Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard. I experimented with painting after I received my undergrad in film because painters were at the top on the hierarchy of the arts,” Jones said. “I put oil paint down on a canvas and it was an epiphany, a summation. Everything I loved about art was the color of the paint. It’s charged with emotion.”

Jones achieves contrasts without resorting to black every time. The result is bright and organic.

“It is based on oppositions, techniques I learned on my own,” said Jones. “You don’t have to use black to get a contrast. Light and dark is relative and using opposing colors gives the appearance of darkness. Green and red are opposing colors.”

Jones uses photographs as a jumping-off point, then lets loose as he starts on the canvas.

“Photography is an excellent tool and artists have been using photos since the lens was invented. They are fun,” Jones said with excitement. “I use them as a reference point. But then I forget about them and the canvases turn out looking nothing like the photographs.”

He grew up in a rural town in Pennsylvania, which Jones said was the start of his creative journey. Jones’ artwork has an underlying message of wildlife conservation.

“We would go into woods as kids, discovering the wilderness, and have to be home in time for dinner at 5 p.m.,” he said. “Space is more ‘tripadacious’ and much of it is disappearing. That is why I looked forward to my stay in Key West; it’s cutoff from the mainland and unique.”

Jones said he assumed he would be painting the coral reef, but after riding around on a bike he discovered a fascination with the old architecture in Key West.

“They gave us a bike and I road around the streets and was inspired by old architecture. I can’t help but have them pop-up in my paintings.”

To see more of Jones’ work, visit

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