Examples of Yolanda Howren Jones’s artwork are throughout her home studio. (Gary Herron/Observer)
That Yolanda Howren Jones turned out to be competent artist is no surprise, when she says, “I know I loved to color and draw as a little girl.”
That would have been on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Her love for art stayed with her as the family moved to Taos in 1968, where her father obtained work, and later as the family moved to Española and then Albuquerque.
Of course, a lot of youngsters like to draw and color, but they soon grow out of it.
Howren Jones didn’t, becoming even more enamored with it during the family’s years in Taos.
“As a girl, I was not a deep thinker,” she recalled. During her family’s years in the Duke City, she attended Del Norte High School, graduating in 1979.
“In high school, I took as many art courses as I could,” she said. “In high school, all I drew were rock stars.”
She began her working days as a government employee, working full-time
Larger acrylic works basically took a back seat during what became a 30-year career as a legal assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, but after she retired in 2014, the painting bug bit her again.
In just two years, she had her own solo show at The Daily Grind in Albuquerque, and a display in the Los Lunas Fall Festival.
She was so talented, her creations began to sell and she earned money through commission work.
“I never started out thinking I would sell my art,” she said, terming what she does in her home studio, “therapeutic.”
A widow until she met John Jones, who was divorced, through an online dating suite resulted in marriage, and she moved into his home in Northern Meadows, where they live with his son Joey, a former Cleveland High student.
John recently retired from his job as a custodial foreman with Rio Rancho Public Schools, and he is tasked with updating his wife’s social media. He also paints, influenced by his talented wife.
Howren Jones gets her inspiration from books, although she enjoys taking photos on family road trips throughout the state. If there’s a historic church in the vicinity, you can bet she’s got a photo of it for a future work. She loves the historic El Santuario de Chimayo.
“I’ve painted that church 10 to 20 times,” she said.
She also enjoys painting old cars, lowriders, sugar skulls, flowers, crows and owls – you get the idea.
She calls Georgia O’Keeffe and Vincent Van Gogh inspirational, and when asked for what advice she has for fledgling artists, she paraphrased Pablo Picasso — “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
A spiritual woman, Howren Jones also enjoys painting small crosses, often adding inspirational quotes on them. John orders them, she paints them – and people buy them.
It really didn’t take long for her work to be noticed, and she has acrylic pieces on display in several galleries, including the Ricochet Gallery on Mountain Road and 11th Street in Albuquerque, where she was recognized and awarded by the Albuquerque Arts Community as a local “Treasure.” Her art may also be found in galleries in Corrales, Madrid and Santa Fe, where she’s hoping to add a gallery on art-lovers’ Canyon Road.
She’ll be featured at the Carnaval Atzlan Art Gallery in Madrid on Oct. 1, and expects to meet new friends while there.
It’s just the way it is in the art world, Howren Jones said.
“When people buy a piece (of work), they want to meet me,” she said.
She’s a member of the Rio Rancho Art Association, which she joined two years ago, and that’s been helpful in getting her work on the walls of area restaurants and other venues.
She said she paints every day, and has no plans to ever put down the brush.
If you’d like to meet Howren Jones virtually, you can find her on Facebook and at yolandahowren.com.