The Paintings of Jay Provorse

“Michelle was away for the weekend, so I took the kids to the craft store to buy art supplies,” Jay Provorse explains as he walks carefully through the basement filled with toys to reach the small studio he’s created in the corner. “We bought canvases and paint so that we could make a mother’s day gift for her.” The result? Three small, mostly kid-decorated canvases containing the sentiment We Love You. “That’s when I fell in love with painting.”

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In three years time, quite a bit has changed. He now paints at night, mostly after the kids are in bed and the house is quiet. He starts, literally, with a blank canvas and lets his mind wander. “Most of the time an image will pop into my head, like of a sunset, the forest, the beach, the ocean.” These images guide his initial choice of color and design, though he freely admits that the final product is often far from the image he held in his mind at the outset. “I’ll look at a painting when I’m done and think Wow! How did I do that?!

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With the exception of canvas and acrylic paint, Jay is less than conventional when it comes to the materials he paints with. He rarely uses brushes, choosing instead scrapers, paper towel rolls and tape which allow him to experiment with texture. He’ll often scrape off layers upon layers of paint in effort to achieve the result he is looking for. “Sometimes it feels like I’ve painted over my own art,” Jay freely admits.

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Most recently, Jay has found success experimenting by using a top coat epoxy to offer his paintings a gloss finish.

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“I never know when a painting is done until the moment it is done,” Jay says. “Suddenly I look at it and I just know that it’s finished.”

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Jay comes by his talent honestly. His mother, Avis Provorse, took art classes in drawing and painting and Jay remembers her devoting time to her art. Small pieces of her work can be found around the house.

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Prior to the weekend when Jay painted with the kids he never lifted a paintbrush. He’s never had a formal class or personal instruction. But he has spent time paying great attention to detail. Beginning shortly after high school when he worked as a ski instructor in Colorado, Jay drew mazes. Intricate, large scale mazes.

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Shortly after Michelle and Jay were married they marketed these mazes and sold them in local businesses around Iowa City. Along with Jay’s growing collection of canvases, rolls of these mazes can be found tucked away in the corners of the basement.

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Jay’s paintings fill the walls of his home. Michelle and Jay will often showcase the paintings at open houses for Pro Home Solutions. His work has been featured at nodo Coffee and Catering, but mostly his paintings adorn the homes of close friends and family.

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Ever humble, ever enthusiastic, Jay is a storyteller. Whether discussing his paintings, his mazes, the work he and Michelle do around Iowa City, or the wild escapades of his youth, Jay favors humor, detail and love.

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