Lucy Jones at Paper Tiger Posted on 6 Oct 13:38

Lucy Jones is a well established Edinburgh artist, focusing her practice on the architecture of the city. I originally met Lucy through seeing her exhibitions at our neighbour Gallery Ten. Lucy describes her works as 'buildings portraits', and her original artworks are often created on a huge scale, look amazing, and they sell very quickly. 

During lockdown I bought a piece of work from Lucy as part of the artist pledge initiative, and I asked Lucy some questions about her own work and practice:

Q. When did you first realise that you had a talent for creating art?

I do remember that I had an idea that I wanted to 'be an artist' and go to art school from when I was at primary school, and it never changed. I'd spend evenings at home in front of the tv filling sketchbooks with drawings of cartoons and doodles - Snoopy and Winnie the Pooh were favourites!

Q. Where did you get the inspiration for your style of “building portraits”? How did it develop?

I'd experimented with layering papers with marks and wax at art college many years ago, and when I moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago I took it up again, initially taking inspiration from my immediate surroundings - the washing lines in the Stockbridge Colonies where I lived.

I was combining lino prints with monoprinting on different hand made nepalese papers and old envelopes, as I loved the simplicity of a cream and brown palette, and over the years I've introduced different mediums, more colour, more drawing and a love of Georgian architectural proportions! 'Brown paper' is still my favourite colour, and is the base for most of my works - it simply goes with everything (and is a perfect way of recycling paper bags and too much wasteful mail order packaging).

Q. What is your process?

I would love to say that I work outside, from real life, but the reality in Scotland is that most of the year it's too cold, and I don't think that cutting up paper with a craft knife on someone's step in the New Town would go down too well! So I walk everywhere, do quick sketches and take many photographs and take them back to my studio in Stockbridge, where I can then spread out all of my paints, inks, crayons and collage papers and use them all as and when I need to.

An important element of the creative process for me is how I combine and use different materials - I need to be exploring and discovering new techniques and effects and experimenting and making discoveries. I'm currently experimenting with layering paint and paper with different varnishes and mediums which is quite exciting.

Q. What is it about the architecture that inspires you and which is your favourite part of the New Town?

I'd never painted buildings before I moved to Edinburgh and the New Town. There's something very special for me about the Georgian proportions - the small paned windows, the fan lights over the front doors, the sweeping curves of the crescents and the rows of chimney pots. I love the contrast of the imposing grey stone with the delicate detail of wrought iron railings and window balconies, many of them different. I do love a sweeping curve! Favourite streets to draw are many of the 'places' such as Ainslie and Circus and Moray Place.

I'm fascinated with the history of the new Town, how it was designed and created and gradually built up over time, in slightly different styles. I collect old maps and books about the area and try and include them in my collage to add some history and story of the place that I'm painting.

Q. How long does a large scale building portrait take you to create from start to finish?

It can take from a week to three weeks, depending on how it just works, or sometimes how energised I am. Some paintings resolve themselves easily and it's clear when they're done, while others take more figuring out, more collage or more painting. I often work on two or three at once so that I can leave something and go back to it over time.

Q. What has been your most unusual commission?

I'd say the commission I'm most grateful for, is the Forth Rail Bridge. I'd never even considered doing it when someone asked me to, and I very nearly said no, as it just seemed too different and out of my comfort zone. But it turned out to be the perfect challenge - I had to really look and understand the engineering and complex construction in order to put it back together with paper and marks, and it opened up a new way of working for me, beyond the buildings.

Q. Has the coronavirus affected your working methods or inspired you to do things differently?

It's made me even more grateful for what I do. When lockdown happened I was able to still keep working at home in my kitchen, with a purpose and goal that I could continue with no matter what. I now come into my studio every day and am thankful that I have a safe socially distanced space to work in, while sharing the building with other lovely creative people, who I know are also working all around me.

Q. What do you like to do when you're not painting?

I get out of the city - I love the hills and the beach and walking and cycling and pretty much anything outdoors and away from buildings and people!


Lucy also works on commissions for private clients and often shares some images of works in progress on her Instagram account. Her greetings cards are available on the Paper Tiger website.