A note from the contributor, Conor Broderick, who encouraged Jon Cashion to share his work with PAC: I feel art is very important for starting conversations about serious ideas. Expressing oneself can be good for the artist, but that artist’s work might help change someone’s life in a way that she or he might never know about. Learning about oneself is something that comes through the creative process, I have found, and so far there has been a lot of bright, colorful spontaneous expression in my work which speaks of who I am.
Abstract paintings, let alone abstract painters, are rare within the prison artist community where Jon resides. Jon began painting in March of 2016 with his long-time partner, Leslie. The two have been pushing one another and collaborating on paintings. The work that Jon and Leslie create together is a meeting of complementary styles. Leslie’s work, (which we hope to see independently soon) is surreal and combines well with Jon’s “craziness.” As with the Old Masters, two or more painters would work together on a project. Sometimes you cannot know who did what. In the end, all that matters is the effect the pieces have on the viewer.
With no formal art training, Jon obtains his knowledge through the various books available to him, as well as from learning from his peers. Within the prison environment, there is a lack of artistic direction to guide a developing artist. But this is where Jon sets himself apart. Jon’s work—mainly non-objective, impressionist/expressionist abstracts – is his voice. “…I have found a passion, a deep feeling of having to create something, that I can’t seem to get rid of,” he explains.
Leslie goes into detail. “He started with these ravaged splatter paintings that resemble the result of a bunny encountering a truck in the night.” This describes the explosive energy Jon puts into his work.
Jon is fascinated with bold hues and possesses a great eye for creating drama. He also creates on surfaces beyond the canvas, allowing him to paint more frequently. Jon makes his own canvas cut from old sheets. He then paints the surfaces with his home-brewed gesso. For pastel work, he has developed a textured substrate painted over cardboard, using an acrylic blend containing concrete dust. Jon is currently working on a limited palette series that features homemade oil paints. No brush? No problem! Random items become the brush – forks, toothbrushes, homemade atomizers, etc.
Recently, Jon began to develop his figure painting skills. He looks forward to combining this new subject matter with his familiar abstract efforts. Jon plans to pursue finding his visual voice while future goals are to keep creating painting from life and to explore larger canvas formats.