WINNSBORO — The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly holds true for Fairfield County’s Randy Jones, a local artist for whom painting literally is his voice.
A selective mute who is served by the Fairfield County Disabilities and Special Needs organization, Jones has seen substantial growth personally and artistically as a result of art therapy with Lyssa Harvey. Harvey says that rather than teach Jones, she merely gives him more tools to refine his style and vision.
For instance, Harvey provides him with pictures of artwork by Picasso and he can produce his version of that work, without tracing anything.
“Another thing we worked on was having him produce his art on a more permanent substance, like canvas,” Harvey said.
Thanks to her tutelage, he now uses Sharpie markers, colored pencils, watercolors and puts his art on canvas now. It was not always the case. Early on, Jones was limited to crayons and paper but when Lyssa, a certified art therapist got wind of his talent, she took him under her wing and made sure he received, not only better equipment, but weekly sessions of art therapy. He has been taking art therapy now for 4-5 years. At the Wilson Road and at the Midlands Facilities he had an art instructor.
“There is an entire genre of artists called the outside/self-taught artist genre, and Randy fits into it,” Harvey said.
She said that the depth of his artwork has grown and it is more vibrant and uplifting now.
Early in his artistic career, pictures were much darker. The change in tone and subject matter is thought to be a reflection of the changes going on inside of this uniquely gifted 46-year-old.
Since having the chance to paint once a week, case workers have noted an improvement in the demeanor and in social skills for Jones. He also has become better at communication with the staff about his various needs. According to Harvey, Jones has drawn and painted since his youth and he can reproduce most anything that he sees.
Jones said he gets ideas from movies and television for his drawings. Though a picture of Mickey Mouse was on prominent display, he said he really likes the Smurfs best, especially Painter Smurf. He did some Christmas painting for friends and even has conveyed politics through art.
A recent painting of Barack Obama was his way of showing he is a fan of the president, and that painting has gained him notice throughout the Midlands. Harvey hopes to share that artwork with Representative Joe Wilson in hopes that one day Jones might get to meet President Obama.
He will paint for a friend if he is asked and said he often likes to listen to music while he paints. “Blue is one of my favorite colors,” he said.
Harvey also noticed a positive response coming from his interaction with the work of artist Mary Cassatt. She continues to expose him to more of Cassatt’s work as a result.
He plans to continue drawing in various mediums.
“Drawing makes me feel better,” Jones said. “I feel wonderful about art and because of art.”
A reception was held for Jones Dec. 6b at the Community Art Hall at 701 Whaley, the location of his exhibit “My Voice” that ran from Dec. 2 to Dec. 31.
Residents from two group homes attended, the first time that facility had seen anything like that, according to Harvey. Randy’s sister came and Harvey hopes that this artwork can be a way he can reconnect with other family members that he has not seen for some time.
“It felt wonderful to be at the art exhibit (and to share the experience with my friends),” Jones said.
Other visitors talked about his art while they were at the exhibit and the event gave him a chance to work on other soft skills, such as social interaction, while being in his artistic element.
“Art connects people,” Harvey said. “Art normalizes people. It gives those who cannot speak a way to tell their story.”
If painting sales are any indication, Jones is well on his way. At the recent showing, he sold more work than Harvey did at a studio during the same time period.
“Drawing and painting are Randy’s voice,” Harvey said. “It is his connection to what he sees and feels. He paints his world.”