By MATT CRANE
When Ann Biedenharn Jones began painting at the age of 12, she knew she was destined for a colorful life.
“I knew I wanted to be an artist and that I liked the creative process,” she said. “But I never really knew starting out that I would stick to it.”
Beginning at noon Thursday, Jones will be the first speaker for the Friends of the Starkville Public Library’s Books and Authors series.
Published in 2008, Jones’ “Life and Art” chronicles her life with photographs of family and friends and a large selection of her paintings.
“The book is autobiographical,” she said. “It’s a record of the paintings I’ve done throughout the years, and I’ve laid the book out in decades giving background about what was going on in our lives at the time each work was done.”
Jones said she kept journals during her life in order to put the book together, allowing her to go back and read everything that happened while she was working.
“I’ve saved photographs and newspaper articles and just a huge amount of stuff,” she said. “I like that, in a way, there is an anecdote to each painting.”
After graduating college in 1965, Jones said although she struggled with her confidence in the works she created, her determination paid off in the form of national notoriety and success.
“I painted for 10 years before I began to be happy with what I was doing, but I kept it up,” she said. “I’ve now sold my work throughout the Southeast and even in places like California and New York.”
While her specialty lies in children and pet portraits, Jones said she covers a wide variety of other subjects, but sticks close to the artistic medium she fell in love with at the beginning of her career.
“I’ve been an oil painter all through the years because I think it’s very forgiving, and it’s easy to work out a design and correct things if you don’t like it,” she said. “Some artists use lots of different mediums, but I’ve always just stuck to one and developed my own style.”
The subject of endangered animals claims an emotional and creative place in Jones’ work and heart.
“I enjoy painting groups of things, and animals are just exciting to paint because you have the fur and feathers and spots and stripes, and there’s all kinds of textures and designs to consider,” she said. “It’s a challenge to get a good composition on the canvas.”
Jones said painting endangered animals is her way of raising awareness about their existence and providing a voice for their protection.
“It’s about doing anything you can to promote their existence,” she said. “Painting them sympathetically with the appealing eyes and expressions and getting the word out is beneficial to their protection.”
Jones said “Life and Art” is a reflection of the work and life she has created, and is proud of not only her artistic contributions, but her longevity in the field.
“I’m most proud that I stuck it out so long and have done my part to try and make people happy,” she said. “I love to make people happy.”
For more information on the Books and Authors series, call 662-323-2766.