12 Questions: Jaron Childs

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Born in Waseca, Minnesota Jaron Childs is an artist living and working in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. His paintings and drawings of the natural world have been shown in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums in the U.S. and Europe.

I make paintings and drawings of the natural world based on my own photographs and direct observation. They range in finish from gestural studies to the photorealistic. Drawing on landscape traditions, my work looks to make visible the beauties and complexities inherent in our kinship with the rest of the living world. I see my practice as a way of being present to the relationships around me, of listening to through looking. — Jaron Childs

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? What are you reading or watching right now?

Some the books that have most influenced my life are: On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry, On Photography by Susan Sontag, Landscape & Memory by Simon Schama, The Wall by Marlen Haushofer, Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane.

2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the pandemic? I’ve been drawing a lot lately which is fairly unusual for me. Creating has been a little challenging for me during the pandemic. My wife and I have been homeschooling our children and working from home. The rhythm of our life is so much different. I’ve been able to make time for drawing in a way that I haven’t for painting. It feels really fresh and direct for me right now.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

Due to a number of challenges I was unable to finish my BFA, twice. I finished my Freshman and Sophomore years with a ten year gap between them. For a long time I saw this as a failure, but it’s also a story of success. I succeeded in finishing two years of art school. I’ve reached a point where I believe that we are always doing the best we can. If I could have done better I’m sure I would have.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

Playing 1 minute bullet games of online chess.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Ben Shahn, or Andrew Wyeth. I admire Shahn’s fresh economic style, and Wyeth’s patient attentiveness. Or my wife or children because they know me and I love everything they make. Or anyone who knows me who would be willing to take the time.

6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? Share an image of your studio.

My focus, which I am forever misplacing. And small fan brushes.