Early Career:  1928—1945
“Loïs Mailou Jones, for me, represented female strength. There were a lot of men in the department at Howard University at the time, and she was a strong female presence.”
— Martha Jackson Jarvis, former student of Loïs at Howard University, 2010
1928
Hired by Charlotte Hawkins Brown to begin an art department at Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina, a prep school for African American youth.

1929
August: Holds solo exhibit at Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard. Filene's Department Store has special showing of her scarf designs.

1930
Invites James Vernon Herring, chairman of the Howard University Art Department, to Palmer Memorial Institute to see an exhibit of her students' work. He offers her a teaching position at Howard, and Brown releases her from Palmer contract.

August: Joins James A. Porter and James L. Wells in the Art Department of Howard University in Washington, D.C. as an instructor of design.

1932
Completes Ascent of Ethiopia. It is shown a year later in a Harmon Foundation art of the Harlem Renaissance exhibit.

Produces plays and dramatic presentations with Gertrude Parthenia McBrown, writer for Carter Woodson's Journal of Negro History: March 3, Benefit Concert; April 16, The Silver Cord; May 5, "All State Night”; May 14, "The Bronze Mask."

1934
Studies mask making in various cultures at Columbia University. Designs masks and costumes for Harlem dance group. Meets Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noël, Haitian graphic artist.

1935
Publishes 36 illustrations in The Picture Poetry Book by Gertrude Parthenia McBrown. Exhibits work with the Harmon Foundation.

1937
September: Receives General Education Board fellowship to study in Paris at the Academie Julian for her Howard University sabbatical. Sailed on the SS Normandie from New York. Mary Beattie Brady, director of the Harmon Foundation, advised her to take her sketch book everywhere and she sketched on the voyage.

Befriends painters Albert Alexander Smith (1896-1940), American expatriate and Émile Bernard (1868-1941), French painter and founder of French Symbolism, and colleague of Gauguin and Van Gogh, and dancer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) during her fellowship. Her classmate Céline Tabary becomes a close friend and roommate. Loïs often returned to France in the 1940s and 1950s and stayed at Céline's family home in Cabris while they both painted.

1938
Completes Parisian Beggar Woman, with poet Langston Hughes supplying the text.

April: Les Pommes Vertes and La Cuisine dans L'Atelier de l'Artiste, Paris are chosen to be shown at the Société des Artistes Français in Paris.

Fills the walls of her studio at 23 rue Campagne Première with her Paris artwork. Albert Smith compliments her and asks her to stay in touch after she returns to America and makes suggestions on what to paint in Italy.

Spends summer studying and traveling in Italy on extended General Education Board fellowship.

Completes 30 illustrations for Carter G. Woodson's book African Heroes and Heroines.

September: Returns to teach at Howard University.

1939
January 21: Receives a letter from Émile Bernard reading, "Charming Friend...You are a remarkably gifted artist and I hope that you will have the power to fully mature and achieve your own style without letting yourself be influenced by ‘fashion’....I have but one bit of advice to give you: Continue always in your own path, that is the only way to perfect one's work...."

Paints Academy Award nominee Leigh Whipper (1876-1975), posing him in a Paris café. Whipper was a graduate of Howard Law School but preferred acting. He once wrote in a guest book for one of her exhibits, "To the #1 Negro artist who will someday be America's #1 artist." Loïs considered this painting one of her best works and it was later shown in a Paris exhibit.

1940
Completes Indian Shops Gay Head, Massachusetts. Loïs has her friend Céline Tabary enter it in the Corcoran Gallery annual show in 1941 because African American artists were excluded. The painting won the Robert Woods Bliss Award and Tabary mails the award to Lois.

1942
Céline Tabary paints Loïs' mother Carolyn and dog Miquette and gives her the picture at Christmas with a note that reads: "Xmas, 1942, to my dear mama Jones with much love—May the gate of joy, peace and happiness be open to you throughout the year - Yours Céline."

1944
Completes Mob Victim after the urging of Alain Locke to paint more on the black subject. She used a homeless man she met on the street as the subject of a lynching, and he tells her he has witnessed a lynching in the south. She paints him several more times.

Holds solo exhibition at the Barnett Aden Gallery in Washington, D.C., the first gallery in this segregated city to feature African American art.

1945
Loïs and Céline Tabary teach art classes in Loïs's Washington studio which becomes known as "Little Paris." The adult group includes Alma Thomas in 1946. They spend the summer painting in France.

Receives A.B. degree in art education from Howard University, magna cum laude.

Textile design
Textile design from Loïs' early career.
Thomas Vreeland Jones
Thomas Vreeland Jones. Painted by Loïs in 1991.
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston. Painted by Loïs.