Watercolor painter John Jason Phillips approaches each of his paintings with an open and clear mind.
A work often begins on an easel so paint will run down the paper. First, there’s a shape. Then comes texture. Colors communicate feelings.
“I love watercolors because they’re constantly dynamic,” Phillips explains. “I’m a strong proponent of painting with watercolors.”
More than a dozen of Phillips’s latest works are on display in “Legends,” which opens at 7arts gallery on April 1. On exhibit are paintings of legends of the Old West.
Showing his paintings is a relatively new venture for Phillips, who enjoyed a successful, 50-year career as a scenic designer. His first job was with the San Francisco Opera, where he worked as the helper to a 93-year old man who had done scenic design for the Bolshoi Ballet.
Then it was on to working with opera companies like the Metropolitan Opera and the Seattle Opera. He’s created scenic design for theater companies, including several that specialize in works by Shakespeare, and for Broadway and off-Broadway productions.
For the last 20 years of his career, Phillips worked in Las Vegas. “I never want to see a sequin or bare nipple ever again,” he says.
Phillips has been enjoying his version of retirement during the past seven years. “It’s a luxury to paint now,” he adds. “There’s aren’t any scenes or backgrounds in my paintings, and that’s purposeful.”
Phillips’s Santa Fe studio on the southside of town is an oasis, a place where he can tune out the rest of the world and create in complete silence. He relishes the opportunity to explore watercolor as a medium and the imagery that emerges from his heart and mind.