Books: The Potency of Life – Day 74

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 74 of the 365 Days Project is by Steven Jones.]

Painting of books by Steven Jones
“The Language of Diplomacy” by Steven Jones. Photo courtesy ©Steven Jones.

Exploring the inner – and outer – energy of books.

#74 – Books have their own inner energy that is released by reading their content. But it takes the eyes of an Artist to also recognize the value of their exterior form.

Kindles and Tablets and iPads.

I almost want to say, “Lion and Tigers and Bears, oh my!” as the proliferation of digital readers and new generations increasingly reliant on computers threaten to make books a thing of the past.

Perhaps I’m a bit nostalgic because I grew up with them. I have a collection of old books that were handed down from my mother: their faded covers with Mom’s maiden name scrawled on the inside and yellowing pages that still contain the poems and stories that sparked my imagination as a child. How will parents of the future hand down these treasures to their children? Or will they?

The paintings in this post were created by Steven Jones, a professional artist who is also the director of an art gallery that happens to be located within an academic library full of books. Jones has been painting still-lifes for over two decades but during the past ten years, his literary surroundings have inspired within him an appreciation for the visual aesthetic of books randomly piled in stacks.

In his artwork portfolio, Jones includes a quote by author John Milton who said, “Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life…” Although Milton was probably referring to the printed content of the books, Jones found it applied to the exterior of books as well. “I select old, well-worn books that trace the many hands that have leafed through them and have shaped their outward character,” said the painter. “The books’ spines may be bent or frayed and the typography may be faded, however, they do retain their inner ‘potency of life.’ The book as a visual object has its own aesthetic.”

If books ever become obsolete, these paintings by Steven Jones will become all the more precious.


Painting of books by Steven Jones
“Tower Two: Balance” by Steven Jones. Photo courtesy ©Steven Jones.

Steven Jones’ artwork can be viewed at: Steven T. Jones

Description of the images included in this post:
The Language of Diplomacy
Steven Jones, Illinois, USA
Tempera and oil on panel

Tower Two: Balance
Steven Jones, Illinois, USA
Oil on panel

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

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