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State of the Art: Jo Dixon

State of the Art: Jo Dixon

Award-winning figurative artist Jo Dixon speaks to Alice Gawthrop about what inspires her, from her travels to her family, via the female figure

Reader’s Digest: How would you describe your art?

I’m a figurative artist. Drawing is very important to me, and it underpins all the work that I do.

"Art school was a terrible disappointment"

Art school was a terrible disappointment, because it was all about abstract expressionism. Drawing and figurative work weren’t really encouraged.

RD: Who are your influences?

I think I’ve been influenced by all the usual brilliant ones, you know—Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, John Singer Sargent, Edgar Degas.

Portrait of woman in blue cardigan daydreaming by Jo DixonCourtesy of Jo Dixon, Daydream, oil on paper

RD: A lot of the figures in your art are female figures. Is this deliberate?

I do draw a lot of male figures too but female figures appeal to me. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a family of mostly women. My dad used to get fed up, because I’ve got three sisters and he’d say even the pets were all female, too.

I suppose there’s just something about female figures, perhaps women are prettier? But last year I had a solo exhibition on India and that one featured a lot of male figures.

Sketch of woman with long hair looking wistful by Jo DixonCourtesy of Jo Dixon, Wistful, charcoal

RD: How have your travels influenced your work?

I’m quite captured by the images that I’ve seen while travelling, which can influence my work in various ways.

"I’m quite captured by the images that I’ve seen while travelling"

For example, while figurative work is my preferred genre, I will do landscapes and waterscapes inspired by India, Japan, Morocco. It depends on where you are, what moves you and what you really want to capture. The work is defined by where you are in space and time.

RD: You’re currently based in Devon. Has that influenced your work?

It has in a way. I’m a member of the Southwest Academy of Fine and Applied Arts, which promotes and supports the arts in the southwest. Being able to work alongside artists who work in all sorts of different genres influences what you do, I find.

I’m a member of the Society of Women Artists in London, too, which is a wonderful outfit. It’s rubbing shoulders with all sorts of different artists working right across the spectrum.

Portrait of sparrow on hot pink backgroundCourtesy of Jo Dixon, Sparrow on Pink, oil on canvas

RD: What do you hope people take away from your art when they see it?

It’s interesting, because one can be in a gallery with all sorts of different types of art around, and somebody will come in and a specific painting will speak to that person.

You can produce a sort of resonance that means something to somebody else, and you may never quite know what it is.

"I painted this canary on a shocking pink background because I thought it was funny"

When my youngest daughter had finished university and was finally leaving the nest, I painted this canary on a shocking pink background for her because I thought it was funny. She absolutely loved it, and then so did a lot of other people! I thought, this is extraordinary—I was really only amusing myself with the painting!

That’s how you find these amazing things that come out of a moment’s passing thought. She’s had that painting on her wall ever since, and people always ask me about the birds.  

Jo Dixon is an award-winning figurative artist working mostly in oils and charcoal. Her work has been widely exhibited, including recently at The Brownston Gallery and Zari Gallery. Learn more at jodixonart.com

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