Debra Jones can hardly get her work done for all her exuberance.
The bubbly artist is drawing life-sized human beings with grapevine charcoal - a thin, twiggy pencil made from a length of charred grapevine - inside Chandler's Vision Gallery, describing her process as she goes.
"The first thing I'm going to do is start throwing some weird and bizarre colors up here. It could be chaos, but from the chaos something will start to emerge," she says.
Jones will create a mural on three panels - each 3 feet wide and a little more than 6.5 feet tall - in the gallery for the next three weeks. The public is invited to watch for free and visit with Jones as she works.
Yet untitled, the mural imagines what it might be like to see what art sees as it hangs on a gallery wall: people, looking at it.
"I probably have a thousand pictures of anonymous kneecaps," says Jones, describing how she snapped photos of people in galleries, trying to capture the poses they fell into when they stood gazing at art. Those digital images helped her compose a piece that conveys the feeling of what it's like to be on display.
At Vision Gallery, a non-profit managed by the Chandler Cultural Foundation, staff thought Jones' live creative process - fleshing out the drawing with a mixture of acrylics, oils and possibly pastels - would make an ideal summer exhibition.
"We always see the artists' completed pieces, hanging on a wall or sitting on a pedestal. We thought it would be interesting for people to get to view the process, to see the art come to life over time," says spokeswoman Candee Lewis.
Jones, 59, is a portrait painter who can sometimes be found painting pet portraits in Scottsdale dog parks. She also teaches acrylic painting in local Michael's stores and does fine oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal and metal point portraits by commission.
After attending art school as a young woman, she worked in commercial advertising, then wound up in a series of odd jobs, including manicurist and puppeteer, always doing small art projects on the periphery. She found her way back to art - and more art training - later in life, after a visit to New York over Sept. 11, 2001.
"After that, it was like, ‘OK, I'm going to quit my job, and I'm going to paint. It's what I have to do.' You don't know whether you're going to be here tomorrow, so you might as well do it today," she says.
Jones will work on the mural most weekdays through July 23. The finished project will remain at Vision Gallery.
Watch Debra Jones paint
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, July 13-16 and 20-23
Where: Vision Gallery, 80 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler
Information: (480) 917-6859 or www.visiongallery.org