Fine Art since 1990
55 Bellevue Avenue
Newport RI 02840
(401) 849-9166

Jonathan Small

Some people take longer than others to find their calling in life; in my case it took a half a century before I became a full time artist. Even though I grew up in a family where the arts were enjoyed and encouraged, it took years for those early influences to bear fruit. During the 1970s I studied art at various art schools, but grew frustrated with what was being taught at that time. I seemed to me that students were praised more for their clever conceptions and less for studying technique and representational art. I took a break from school and found a job selling surfboards and windsurfers, which I ended up doing for twenty years.

In 2005 I began looking into my family history. My great great grandfather Stephen A. Schoff (1818-1904) became very important to me. Little known today, he was an engraver of some renown during his lifetime. The names of fellow artists with whom he associated reads like a Who’s Who of nineteenth century American art; Washington Allston wrote a letter of recommendation for Schoff in 1839 when he set off for Paris where he shared an apartment with John F. Kensett; when Schoff was admitted to the National Academy of Design he had his portrait painted by Asher B. Durand; among Schoff’s artist friends and colleagues were: William Morris Hunt, Emil Carlsen, Emmanuel Leutze, Elihu Vedder, Abbott Thayer and Edmund Tarbell, to name but a few. Once I started researching my great great grandfather it was as if he reached out of the past and switched my interest in the arts back on.

In 2006 I quit my job in the surf industry and added a studio onto my home. I took a few refresher classes at RISD and the Newport Art Museum, started painting again, and haven’t looked back. Now I create art to please me, unabashedly showing the influence of traditional art. I went through a period of painting still lifes with dark backgrounds in the style of the Spanish artists Cotán, Zurbarán and Meléndez. Lately I’ve been painting landscapes and seascapes in the tonal and impressionist tradition. My focus in these recent works is to capture light and atmosphere in paint on canvas. Jonathan B. Small.