Award-winning Friendswood artist Fontaine Jacobs paints with oils, acrylics, and watercolor, the last medium being
her favorite right now. “I like the speed and spontaneity of watercolor,” she says.
Jacobs likes acrylics for their speed, too, but for portraits, she prefers the blend-ability of oils.
Mostly self-taught, Jacobs sells at the Texas City (611 6th St. N.) and Galveston (2117A Postoffice St.) galleries
of the Galveston Art League, the Watercolor Art Society-Houston (WAS-H), and online at www.FontaineFineArt.
com. She is active in several art organizations and is webmaster for the all-volunteer Galveston Art League and
for the Clear Lake/Dickinson-based National Society of Artists. She teaches at College of the Mainland, WAS-H,
and in her home.
Her many awards include Best of Show for Guarded Gaze, given by the
National Society of Artists; first place for The Origami Artist, awarded by the
Galveston Art League’s gallery in Texas City; third place for Abstraction, WAS-H;
and first place for Gator, Lone Star Art Guild.
Below she shares additional details about her art and her life.
Q: HOW DO YOU IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS?
A: Painting as often as I can and taking workshops. I also find my teaching
experiences have helped improve my skills.
Q: DO YOU WORK OUTDOORS AND INDOORS?
A: Yes. Plein air, or painting in the open air, improves my color recognition, allows
me to simplify my work, helps me to paint in a short time frame, and allows
me to see how light appears in different situations. But painting indoors is what I
typically do. I like painting in the comfort of my studio. I don’t have to deal with the
weather, or worry about changing light or forgetting needed supplies. I can also
add or take away light if I am painting a still life. If I paint from a reference photo,
I can adjust the contrast/hue saturation/brightness
from my computer or magnify a certain area to get
Q: CAN YOU DISCUSS YOUR PHOTO USE IN MORE DETAIL?
A: I use a Nikon 900 bridge camera for reference pictures sometimes. It is lightweight and captures what I am seeing well. With its zoom lens, it also lets me get
photos from a fairly long distance away. I also use my camera to record a plein air setting in case I don’t finish the painting in one sitting. For portraits, it allows me to
catch a person looking nonchalant rather posed.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ART CHALLENGE?
A: Determining when a painting is finished and knowing when to stop.
Q: DO YOU FOLLOW ANY RULES IN PAINTING? DO YOU HAVE AN EPIPHANY TO SHARE?
A: I try to follow the rule of thirds [composing a painting with interesting elements placed along an imaginary grid of
two horizontal and two vertical lines ― as in tic-tac-toe ― that forms nine equal rectangles], but I often break that rule. I
did a lot of design work as an art director, so the principles of design are crucial. Contrast is most important to me — it
can make or break a painting. Instinctively I put my focal point off-center.
After having breast cancer, I no longer fear making mistakes or have angst about the outcome of a painting. Life is too
short. I think that has made me a better painter. Instead of being afraid, I lose myself in my paintings. Painting becomes
a form of meditation for me.
Q: DESCRIBE YOUR CANCER PORTRAIT SERIES.
A: I paint portraits of those who have — or have survived ― cancer. I put the portraits into competition for about a
year and then present the paintings to the survivors after that time. As a seven-year cancer survivor, it allows me to give
back and paint my favorite subject matter — people. [Editor’s note: Jacobs also holds fundraisers for cancer research,
the most recent occurring Oct. 20, 2018, at the Galveston Art League Gallery in downtown Galveston. She raised nearly
Q: WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE FAMOUS ARTIST?
A: I love many styles of artwork from representational to abstract. For
that reason this question is almost impossible to answer. My favorite
all-time artist is John Singer Sargent. He was a master at both oils and
watercolor and painted portraits and landscapes in both media. He did
plein air brilliantly, sometimes while he was on a boat!
Fontaine Jacobs likes using Yupo, a synthetic watercolor “paper” that can be
wiped clean for a do-over. She used Yupo in painting Martinis for 2.
The Origami Artist is one of the artist’s favorites and won first place in a
juried competition at the Galveston Art League’s gallery in Texas City