From Non-objective in Oil to Digital Elements
Jamie Downs is a very spiritual person, and she expresses it through her
art work. “For thirty five or forty years my paintings were exclusively
spiritually based. One could argue that even the paintings I do now, that are not
non-objective, have some spiritual basis”.
Her Oneness series, which started in the late
1960’s and she continues to work on now, is the
body of work that is the most spiritually based,
according to Jamie. This series is complex and
representational of Jamie’s work and spirit.
See the video to learn more about Jamie’s Oneness series.
Of all your art work, is there any one special for you?
There is a painting every five or ten years that stands out from the others. It is usually not one that I
struggled with, but one that developed quickly and relatively effortlessly. They are always non-
objective works from the Oneness series. They have the usual one to three circles as the main focus
but something about the way they just resolve themselves almost from the start makes them my
Jamie uses titles such as Nothing So Much as Love, Giving Birth, Enjoy God, and
Everything Becomes. What does she have to say about it?
I picked phrases that spoke to me visually and spiritually. I started those works with a quote from
Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, (ca1260-ca1328). I write the phrases on the canvas in a shape or
compositional direction that is natural to me and then proceed with the painting, sometimes
incorporating the phrase and sometimes obscuring it. There are twelve of these paintings so far. Most
were done in oil on 24” x 24” Masonite panels, though some were on paper and in mixed media.
work, as mentioned in your bio. Can you tell me more about this process?
I take many photographs and have worked first with Corel Draw and then Photoshop when it became
available. I’ve used it and taught digital art since the 1990’s. I think because of digital photography
and digital photo-collage experimentation, very large flowers began to appear in my non-objective
work. That lead to the bird and animal series of paintings. I take photos or chose them from my
extensive Flickr library. I have generally already manipulated them in Photoshop. Most of the time I
do a complete digital painting on the computer, painting with a Wacom tablet. The resulting works
on canvas or wooden panels, though based on the original photographs, are several steps removed
from that photographs and often do not have much resemblance to either the photographs or the
How did you choose your direction in art?
When I went to art school in 1968, I did not have a very good background in art. I quickly became
totally enthralled with Abstract Expressionism. The art instruction at Kutztown University in
Pennsylvania had numerous young faculty members who were influenced by that period and I
switched from Art Education to Fine Arts Painting in order to take more of their classes. I actually
started my Oneness series in my sophomore year and still find it to be my favorite direction. The
educational theories in the Fine Arts Department really stressed allowing students to follow their
own muse and to identify themselves as soon as possible as artists rather than students of art. I am
grateful to them for giving me the tools and setting me free to pursue them.
What has influenced you to grow as an artist?
I think my years as a photojournalist did the most to develop my eye and composition skills. When
you shoot and develop four or five rolls of film a day, have to select a few and print them very
quickly on a deadline, you really develop your ‘seeing’ skills. I chose Arts Administration over Art
Education or photojournalism for my day jobs later on because I felt that it was more conducive to
remaining a working painter. Of course I, taught classes, and developed programs as an Arts
Administrator but I think I was most influenced by the artists I hired to work in the programs.
I always made sure to have a gallery connection so that I would be forced to keep painting and
showing, even though I was working as an Arts Administrator and raising my children.
Jamie has 4 children and 6 grand-children. She teaches at Montgomery College and it’s
a proud member of The Latino Art League of Greater Washington DC.
Member of TLAL