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Daily Inspiration: Meet Jean Mason

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jean Mason.

Hi Jean, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was one of the first artists to build a website and print business cards. Friends called me “” with a bit of headshaking like I had a movie star complex. Amazon launched in 1995, so I wasn’t far behind them.

Success as an artist gave me the clout to teach in museums, guide workshops, serve as an art therapist, and work with at-risk youth. My degrees are in studio art and education.

In the late 90’s, I began showing with New York City’s Ward-Nasse Gallery in SoHo. My first solo show featuring music pieces sold out quickly. I became known as “painter of jazz” and my work started being featured on CD covers, t-shirts and festival posters worldwide. I had product placements, wine bottle labels and all sorts of marketing usage in many different countries. As my paintings sold nationally and internationally, the articles and stories about my work had a domino effect. A career highlight was being featured in JazzColours, an Italian Jazz magazine.

In addition to New York City, I have been represented by galleries in New Orleans, Tampa, Santa Fe, Omaha, and Louisville. At one point, I was showing in 7 galleries nationwide, committing to 2 solo exhibits each year at the various locations. The pace has slowed with the pandemic which has given me the freedom to create more experimental work.

We moved to Austin in 2017. In addition to my studio practice, I am the Curator for Round Rock Arts’ Downtowner Gallery, a nonprofit supporting local artists. I am also a Docent at the Blanton Museum of Art, where we like deep and sometimes tough conversations about social justice and intentionally stir the pot to help young people learn how to relate to people with differing opinions.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Finding space to work is always a challenging variable in my life. Usually, my large-scale canvases require that I work a big studio space -but the flexibility of mobile spaces – on a balcony, or out of a backpack where I’m forced to focus on one composition at a time – has been inspirational, a way to shake up my studio practices and stretch into new materials.

Another constant struggle is the Business of Art which is such a love/hate relationship. Success with gallery representation is invaluable – when the paintings sell, there is more space in my studio so I can make more. But getting established has sometimes felt a little stifling – “we have collectors who want a certain size/color/theme – go make 20 of those” like a treadmill with the speed incrementally increasing. It’s the difficult part of any creative process when business suffocates the fun.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I create large oil paintings, mostly music related, vivid and bold. Massive scale is my thing. I stretch 30-40 large canvases at a time, line them up, and work on all of them at the same time so the show is cohesive. I come from a theater design background, so still love my huge paintbrushes. Sometimes I mellow out, my post-lockdown palette is a little gentler with references to landforms and open space.

I’m most proud of my teaching and mentoring relationships – nudging people down a rocky path or hand-holding while they dive under the crashing waves – then emerge with their soul recharged. There have been many breakthrough moments of life-altering stuff – to reconcile with trauma, to relearn to hold a spoon, to establish personal value – generally to view life under a new lens. Lots of my workshop groups and classes have made lifetime connections and still gather regularly. Lives are richer for the deep dive.

Overall, my philosophy has always been about inclusiveness. I believe that everybody can re-find their creative center – to paint, draw, dance, sing, play an instrument or whatever brings balance. My purpose in life is to re-ignite that fire within. If there was a job title I’d be proud to hold, it would be Encourager.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
Music is everything in my studio practice so my music apps are really important. I have to match to the right energy of the moment to keep the paint moving, along with my voice-controlled speaker so I don’t have to pause if the music needs to shift with me.

I’m a lover of real books with pages to highlight and corners to crease – especially any book that a friend has given to me because they loved it – I like to see where they said “aha” and circled that idea with a pencil.

Julia Cameron’s old books are some that I refer back to frequently; especially The Sound of Paper and The Artist’ Way which brings me back to focus when I wander. The concept of the Morning Pages is from this book, essentially a daily 3-page rambling-brain-dump into a notebook, which oddly uncovers your deepest needs at the same time releasing the trash.

My favorite low-tech thing is a saying that keeps me moving forward when too much high tech distracts – “5 minutes or 5 things” – a great way to stop OR to start, to re-direct and accomplish something tangible.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @jeanmasonart
  • Facebook: JeanMason, artist

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