Rance Jones Gallery

Rance Jones Painting

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Rance Jones Painting

True Stories

In 1991, Rance moved with his wife Christina from Kerrville, Texas to New York City to attend School of Visual Arts and pursue an MFA degree in Illustration. It was a sense of adventure and the opportunity to study at such a recognized art school in NYC that drew him there. The couple moved from a tiny cabin on the Guadalupe River to settle in a typical five story tenement apartment in Manhattan’s West Village. The energy and pace of New York City was a constant source of inspiration for Rance as he pursued his career in Illustration producing work for the New York Times as well as many magazines including a cover for the National Review. The couple found a community of friends and worked hard to realize their goals in their new home.

In 1996, with the birth of their daughter, the young family moved to Washington Heights just above 181rst Street. There they were surrounded by a park-like setting, living in a comfortable apartment near the Hudson River. In the evenings they could push a stroller down to the Little Red Lighthouse at the river’s edge or walk through the Cloisters, the Metropolitan’s replica of a medieval monastery in Fort Tryon Park a few blocks away. Eventually the young family was asked by their church to be part of a congregation of about 500 members in Central Harlem to help organize a children’s ministry. Even though it was only a few stops away on the Nine train, Harlem was a world apart, suffering from poverty, crime and neglect.

American Artist Rance Jones Painting
American Artist Rance Jones Painting

Rance also volunteered with a chemical recovery program where he heard men share raw, heart-breaking stories from violent crime to prostitution for drugs. The artist came to see how difficult it was for children and families, young women and young men to navigate their way through such bleak circumstances.

And it was through these interactions, Rance had to confront prejudice, not only the distrust he encountered but more importantly his own characterizations of the people around him. The struggle to understand and eventually value such a different culture was difficult, at times frustrating but ultimately, an invaluable opportunity to grow.

That transformative stage of his life continues to shape his vision as an artist. Observing and depicting the lives of people from different parts of the world and often vastly different environments, means accepting that there can be many layers to a culture that are not apparent to an outsider. Rance approaches each painting with the intention of portraying an unfiltered quality in people that is never stereo-typed, judgmental, romanticized or staged. Capturing body language, expression and environment are key elements to that process.

When someone is caught up in their own thoughts, their facial expression and posture become a manifestation of how they are affected by their environment, society and culture and betrays the protective layers of self preservation. The sharp, precise realism in his paintings brings a visceral honesty to the stories these lives tell. Knowing he can’t fully understand all the complexity of the conditions and the cultures of the people he paints, Rance believes the expressiveness and presence of the characters in his work inherently tells the true story.

The figure and its environment both occur because both exist

To what extent does the surrounding environment shape the appearance, culture and values of the person or people within it? Or is human activity changing its environment to the point that it becomes an extension of the demands of the people who live there? Is human presence altering its environment or is the environment shaping the physical and cultural qualities of its inhabitants?

Andrew Wyeth expressed that in his portraits, the landscape surrounding the subject was as much the portrait as the persons face. Having lived in communities ranging from a tiny Texas town with a population of less than 400 to many years in New York City, I found that each of these settings had a dramatically different impact on my physical and emotional state, my sense of self worth and my connection to the people around me.


Urban neighborhoods, rural townships, cities advanced with technology, villages where technology is lacking, what is the visual narrative of the relationship of the figure and the environment?

Traditionally in representational art, the human figure is often the focal point of a composition, the background or surrounding elements defer in a sort of supporting role that’s meant to elevate the figures presence. Typically, the objects that hold the most importance in a painting are brought forward in the composition by softening the surrounding areas either texturally or tonally.

However, in my paintings, I want the viewer to sense a degree of competition between foreground and background, between the figure and the environment. By allowing this tension to exist in the painting, the viewer is invited to consider the impact of the relationship between the two. Painting in a very detailed, photo-realistic style heightens the sense of visual and emotional tension.

More about artist Rance Jones

The international award-winning watercolor paintings by Rance Jones broaden the boundaries of watercolor technique. Each watercolor is a masterful example of how the artist portrays the world that he explores through art. His realistic style is both refreshing and relatable. His sensitivity to expression, subtle body language and setting give the subjects of his watercolors a life-like beauty that has great emotion, elegance and impact.

Many of the stories told through a Rance Jones watercolor are simple, stolen moments: the graceful glance of a girl behind a gelato counter in Sirmione, Italy, an impromptu still life of fresh fruit and sweet syrup ablaze in the sun of San Miguel, Mexico, a bowl of fish soup in a Hungarian café dyed fire-red by paprika.

Photo Realistic in style, Rance Jones watercolors are heirs to a movement begun in the 1960’s by artists like Chuck Close, Charles Bell and Richard Estes. An approach in art that tends to draw the viewer in by giving subjects commonly associated with emotional distance or indifference, a visceral and dramatic presence. Rance Jones builds on that concept by demanding his watercolors represent much more than a copy of a photograph.

Drawing inspiration from the mastery of such painters as Degas, Whistler, Eakins, Homer, Monet and Andrew Wyeth, Rance Jones watercolors exhibit vibrant color, rhythm and movement. Look how meticulous strokes of color lay next to and over one another forming textures and multitudes of tones. Thin washes of pigment blend smoothly across a sky or delicately bring out fine wrinkles in a facial expression.

source: Worrell Gallery



  • 1983-84: Sul Ross State University
  • 1985-88: University of North Texas; BFA
  • 1991-93: School of Visual Arts, NYC; MFA


Group Exhibitions and Awards


The Lingering Revolution, A Contemporary Portrait of Cuba, Forum Gallery, New York, NY


  • Person to Person, Forum Gallery, New York ,NY
  • Art Market San Francisco, Forum Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • Fabriano in Acquarello, Fabriano, Italy
  • For Real, American Contemporary Realism, University Gallery Texas A&M, Commerce, TX
  • Art on Paper, Forum Gallery, Pier 36,  New York, NY
  • American Watercolor Society, 152nd International Exhibition,  Salmugundi Club,  New York, NY



  • Richeson 75, Figure and Portrait Exhibition, Kimberly WI,  Best in Show Award
  • Southwestern Watercolor Society, Eisemann Center for the Arts, Richardson TX, President’s Award
  • ARC Salon Competition, Finalist
  • California Water color Association, Marin Society of Artists Gallery, San Rafael, CA



  • La Vida de Una Montana, Worrell Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, solo exhibition
  • American Artist Professional League, Salmugundi Club, New York, NY
  • California Watercolor Association, Marin Society of Artists Gallery,  San Rafael, CA
  • Southwestern Watercolor Society, Eisemann Center for the Arts, Richardson, TX
  • Hecho in Dallas, Latino Cultural Arts Center, Dallas, TX
  • ARC Salon Competition, Finalist
  • Irving Arts Center, First Place Water Media, Irving, TX



  • American Artist Professional League, Honorable Mention, Salmagundi Club, NY, NY
  • Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, Best of Show,  Arvada Center for the Arts, Arvada, CO
  • ARC Salon Competition, Finalist



  • 100% Irish, Gallery @ 1300, Dallas TX, solo exhibition
  • Inheritance, Worrell Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, solo exhibition
  • American Artist Professional League, Best of Show, Salmagundi Club, NY, NY
  • Art of the Heartland, American Art Collector Award of Excellence
  • California Watercolor Association, Academy of Art University,  San Francisco, CA
  • Southwestern Watercolor Society, Eisemann Center for the Arts, Richardson, TX



  • The Hunting Art Prize, Finalist,  Houston, TX
  • Southwestern Watercolor Society, Dalton Award, Eisemann Center for the Arts, Richardson, TX
  • We Tell Stories, SVA Gallery, NY, NY
  • ARC Salon Competition, Finalist



  • Momentous, Gallery @ 1300, Dallas TX, solo exhibition
  • Watermedia Showcase, Watercolor Magazine, Honorable Mention
  • Southwestern Watercolor Society, First Place, Eisemann Center for the Arts, Richardson, TX



  • Agridulce, Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, Kerrville, TX, solo exhibition
  • Society of Watercolor Artists, Second Place, Fort Worth, TX
  • The Hunting Art Prize, Finalist, Houston, TX



  • Exploration and Observation, Park Family Center for the Arts, Plano, TX, solo exhibition
  • Watermedia Showcase, Watercolor Magazine, Fourth Place
  • National Watercolor Society, Winsor-Newton Award
  • Society of Watercolor Artists, Best of Show



Southwestern Watercolor Society, Noted Artist Award

Richardson Civic Arts Society, Compass Bank Award


Articles & Publications

  • Southwest Art, March 2017
  • Tsinghua University Press, China, 2016
  • Watercolor Artist, June 2015
  • American Artist, April 2015
  • Western Art Collector, June 2014
  • Western Art Collector, April 2014
  • Southwest Art, March 2014
  • Southwest Art, Jaunuary 2013
  • Watercolor Artist, February 2013
  • Southwest Art, April 2012
  • Watercolor Artist, February 2012
  • American Artist Watercolor, 2011

Artist Rance Jones Website