A native of the New England coast, Jean Hirons has lived in the Washington, DC area since 1976. She worked as a librarian for thirty years, the last twenty at the Library of Congress. In 2003 she retired to pursue a career in pastel painting. Since that time, she has become a popular teacher, author of an acclaimed book on the subject, and a noted colorist and master of the use of light in her pastel paintings.
Jean is a landscape painter with a focus on buildings in the landscape. Beginning with the domestic architecture of New England, she branched out to the farms of the Mid- Atlantic, and now paints the urban scene in Washington, D.C. Jean enjoys the juxtaposition of hard lines with the softer forms of nature. And, painting buildings gives her a chance to explore color. She frequently works from black and white photographs in order to create pleasing color palettes and paintings that sing.
Jean taught pastel at Montgomery College (Rockville campus) from 2005-2012 and now teaches in her studio at in Rockville, MD. In 2012, she published her book, Finding Your Style in Pastel, based on her experience of teaching the medium at MC. She loves to work with others and share her love of the medium and the joys of painting the landscape.
Jean was a member of the Waverly Street Gallery from 2004-2015 and now shows in galleries in Maine and the Mid Atlantic. In 2020, 21 city paintings were on view at the Women’s National Democratic Club in Dupont Circle. She has shown at Strathmore Hall, the Fisher Gallery (Northern Virginia Community College), and various other locations.
Jean’s paintings have won numerous awards and she now holds signature status in the Pastel Society of America and Master Circle status in the International Association of Pastel Societies.
In over 25 years of painting with pastel, three things have become most important to me: composition, harmonious color, and a strong sense of light. Regardless of the subject matter, these are the qualities that I believe make a painting successful. I consider myself to be a painterly realist. My subjects are all based in reality but I have no desire for photographic representation. I want my paintings to look like paintings!
Composition is the beginning point of every painting—strong shapes and lines that attract the eye. With that in place, I can then play with color combinations that will please me and hopefully the viewer. I prefer to use a limited palette of 2-4 colors. When a photograph has poor color or too many colors, I work from the black and white to achieve the palette I desire. I can “see” color in grays!
I tend to be a sunny day painter, preferring to work with subject matter that has strong light and shadows. Capturing light in a two-dimensional surface involves a technical understanding of color values and temperatures, but more importantly, it is a product of the energy brought to the painting process. Sometimes it seems like magic! But working in the beautiful medium of soft pastel also enables this process, with its tiny crystals of pigment that reflect the light.
I love to paint buildings in the landscape. I grew up with the beautiful architecture of New England and it’s the subject that most speaks to me. For me, the houses and city buildings are what make a region unique and identifiable. I’m also partial to back alleys, trash cans, and telephone poles! I try to stay away from the purely nostalgic.
The artwork pictured here is a representation of this artist's work. We aim to display only pieces that are currently in the gallery, though some may have been sold. If you are interested in purchasing a particular piece by this artist, please call the gallery at (302) 645-0551.