Jean Sbarra Jones

ARTIST - FIRST DANCE

Jean Sbarra Jones is an artist living and working in a 100-year-old industrial loft located in downtown historical Salem, Massachusetts. She earned a Masters of Fine Arts at Boston University College of the Arts. Jean recently created a company called “First Dance” where she makes paintings that help recreate memories of special events, particularly unique moments in wedding ceremonies and /or receptions.

What makes you stand out in the maker community?

I am versatile artist. I have acquired traditional painting and drawing skills in addition to having been educated in many schools of art. Although a contemporary realist, my work is also conceptual and influenced by the modernist movement. I am also unique in the wedding industry. Although I have come across several exceptionally talented “live event painters”, I have not seen many artists do quite what I do. I am not interested in the performance aspect of live painting. I create painting that is at the same quality as my gallery work. I am an older artist with many years of experience. The artwork itself stands out. I only will take on a project if the client wants what I do best. For example, if someone wanted a traditional painted portrait of the couple in front of the wedding cake, I am not the artist for them. If they want a shot at sundown with them bathed in a golden light while strolling through a meadow, I am the one.

Tell us about your work and the projects you are currently working on.

The main clients that contact me are most often looking for a unique wedding gift. It is usually either a parent or a spouse and often the painting is a surprise to the recipient. I work with my clients to find the perfect photograph. Recently, I painted a piece for a man who wanted to give his wife a surprise first anniversary gift. I work directly with the image and try to get a likeness and capture the mood of the moment; much like the impressionist painters did in the early 20th century. I have a few commissions currently in the works, both gifts. One is for the parents of the groom and the other is a wedding present to the married couple given to them from a guest at the wedding. My clients and I are in the process of choosing the right photographs. If a professional photographer’s work is used, photo credit is always given whenever the painting is posted and a shout out to the venue if applicable.

Who is your favorite contemporary artist or maker?

The first person who comes to mind is an artist named Erin Milan. From her statement: “Milan’s high realism figurative oil paintings explore desire, nourishment, and loss, and what it feel like to be human.” I had the pleasure of meeting Erin in her studio and she is a light in the art world, openhearted and gracious.

What inspired you to become a maker?

As a child I wanted to be an actress. I loved to pretend. I also loved costumes, particularly my turquoise and lavender velvet elf costume that I wore in children’s theatre. Color was an early passion, along with the dramatic effect of light on stage. I never pursued acting but instead became a visual artist creating, character, narrative and set design in my paintings. My early inspirations remained, in a different medium.