Arts Visual Arts

Cover Artist: Stephanie Peterson Jones

Cover Artist: Stephanie Peterson Jones

Dragon at Black Mountain Library. Stephanie Peterson Jones, artist

By Gina Malone

In a time of uncertainty—in general and more specifically now with COVID-19—creativity that is already a daily practice can be a consolation to professional artists. Stephanie Peterson Jones knew this well, even before all of our lives became more reflective and home-centered. “It is what makes me tick,” she says of art. “It has become a part of my self-care; it feeds my soul and truly is my time of meditation.”

Growing up in Westport, CT in the 1960s close to the beach and a town pool, Stephanie became an accomplished swimmer. There was room in her life, too, for art, however. Sitting cross-legged around a coffee table and drawing on the backs of used copy paper with neighborhood friends is a favorite memory, and she always felt supported in creative pursuits. When it came time for college, she made plans to major in journalism. “When I took the required classes, I was so drawn to the art that I switched my major to graphic design,” she says. “It just kind of evolved for me. After college, I took the train into New York City to take illustration classes at Parsons School of Design.”

River Tubing

It was while working in an art department in Wilton, CT that she met Paul Jones, a photographer and woodworker. “Years later, we reconnected and got married,” Stephanie says. “We both love our creative time in our respective spaces at home, and often collaborate on making things.”

The couple moved to Asheville from Connecticut in 2014, after their home in Fairfield was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Stephanie worked for a newspaper and then a corporate art department early in her career, but has been a freelance illustrator for many years. “I have really enjoyed making art for children and the children’s product market,” she says. “Since I have lived in Asheville, I have spent as much time as possible making paintings, too, which has been great.”

Among her accomplishments are Drawing for Joy, a book she wrote and illustrated about art as a daily meditation practice, and Peek-a-Moo, an award-winning farm animal peek-a-boo flap book for toddlers that she illustrated and which has gone through more than 25 printings. Drawing for Joy evolved out of a graduate school project combining art with morning meditation. “The purpose of that project was to reclaim my love of art-making for its own sake,” she says, “at a time where I’d experienced some serious burnout.” Making art focuses her, she says. “I am in flow and it is a place where I am expressing my deepest feelings. I make art every day and feel a little lost when I am not able to.”

She works in watercolor and gouache mostly. “I love to use bright, saturated colors and depict imagery that is joyful and inspiring,” she says. She also works in clay, knits, sews and cooks. “I am a pretty productive person overall.”

(Clockwise from left) Lettuce; Whale at the Black Mountain Libray; Elephant

Coming up with ideas when in the habit of daily creation is not a problem, Stephanie says. “I always have something percolating.” She takes notes and makes sketches, then scans those into her computer, using Photoshop to figure out such things as layout and color balance. “Much of my work is speculative, meaning I get the idea, create it first and then present to companies for potential licensing,” she says. She just got a deal for four jigsaw puzzles and has designed everything from tea towels to a skateboard. “I really enjoy collaboration and community engagement,” she says. “I would love to work more with local businesses in Asheville. I think that designing a beer label would be great fun, and I also love to make art for nonprofits with environmental or social justice focuses.”

She and her husband shared creative space in the River Arts District, but closed the studio earlier in the year and made the shift to work from home. “I feel very grateful to be able to do what I do,” she says. “I am a spiritual person and many of my ideas and thoughts are communicated in my morning meditations. I share them on social media and many people have told me that they give them happiness and joy. That I have affected people in a positive way inspires me.”

To learn more, visit StephaniePetersonJones.com, or find Stephanie Peterson Jones Illustration on Facebook (Stephanie Peterson Jones), Instagram (peetyjones) and Etsy (peetyjones). Her work may be found locally at Woolworth Walk (Booth 202) in Asheville and at Artisans on Main in Weaverville.

Leave a Comment