We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan McAfee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, how do you think about risk?
In order to grow as an artist I believe that it’s important to take risks regularly. That doesn’t mean that I am always making high-risk decisions, but I do feel that exploring areas outside of one’s comfort zone is important. With our rapidly growing social media landscape, being an artist today feels more like a popularity contest than anything else. I am not as interested in being the most popular as much as I am striving to be the best that I can be. And in order to improve I explore new avenues with my paintings and subject matter.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to describe myself as an expressive figurative painter. Which basically means that I focus on painting people in order to capture a memory and make it longer lasting. I use oil paint on top of acrylic along with other materials, including oil pastel, spray paint, ink and pencil. My paintings are colorful, spontaneous and realistic all at the same time. Currently, I am very excited about a new series that I am working on where I am turning old photographs of Polo players sitting on their horses, into colorful, contemporary paintings. I have gotten to where I am today through a lot of hard work and the refusal to give up. It has not been easy and it honestly takes a bit of craziness to even give this career a try. The pay is unpredictable, the competition is increasing every hour and it can be very daunting to always need the approval of the public in order to feel successful. As an artist you are always learning new lessons, sometimes daily. The majority of what it takes do succeed in this profession isn’t discussed or taught in art school. I have learned to be my own marketer, shipper, installer and handler.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Let’s pretend that we aren’t in the grips of a deadly pandemic and I have total freedom to show a good friend around for a week. I live in Evergreen so the first thing I would do is grab an Americano from Espresso Evergreen and then take my friend for a walk around the lake. Next we would grab a beer from Revival Brews and just enjoy sitting outside watching people walk by. The afternoon would consist of a drive to Bailey while enjoying the scenery. The evening would include a homemade dinner and a bourbon tasting. The next few days would be exploring Buenta Vista, Salida, Frisco, and Georgetown before coming back to Evergreen for a night. I always take every visitor to Red Rocks because it was one of the first places that I visited when first moving to Colorado. If the weather was warm I would take them into Denver for dinner at Work & Class (my favorite restaurant) and then stroll up and down Santa Fe for First Friday. On their last night we would enjoy some beers outside at Over Yonder Brewing in Golden.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give a shoutout to my wife Sarah McAfee. She has not only encouraged me wholeheartedly over the past decade but she is able to help me in different areas of the art business that involves more than just painting. In her daytime role as Parks Volunteer & Operations Coordinator for Foothills Park & Recreation, she is always working hard to make sure that the community is coming together. Sarah was a huge encouragement for me to quit my full-time job 7 years ago in order to follow my passion as an artist. Without her I really don’t know where I would be.
I have the rights and permissions to use all of the photos included in this feature.