The decorative arts put food on my table, offer the challenge of collaboration, and allow me time to work on paintings of my own choosing.

 

Oil Painting

I started painting in oils with the encouragement of local artist, Bob Doney. (He gave me my first set of paints and brushes). But, I didn’t start to understand the medium until further studies with David Cook.

Since then, I have painted primarily landscapes and still life. I prefer to work “en plain aire” as the french say, or directly from the subject, outdoors. My subjects range from Venice, New Orleans, and Switzerland, to the nearby Delaware River. Lately, I have been exploring flowers painted directly with heavy impasto.

After I discovered the work of Tad Spurgeon I began using his methods of hand-refining linseed oil, combining it with marble dust to form a translucent putty. The method is solvent-free, archival, and allows me to alter and adjust the medium to suit my needs. I’ve also begun using traditional gesso on linen either on panels or stretched. Again, with a focus on process I find I’m able to have a dialogue with my materials, responding and adjusting as the work progresses.

For my thoughts about this an other subjects, follow my blog, “where thou art”.



James has been teaching since 1990. Sign up for one of his workshops or private classes here. Commissions on request. Inquire for prices.

 

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Watercolor Painting

I first studied watercolor in high school with the late Connie Jost. It has intrigued me ever since. I had further study at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University while earning my degree in Scenic & Costume design for Theater, mainly for renderings. Over time, I began to enjoy the immediacy and portability of the medium, taking my paints on my travels, or setting them up in a minute on my desktop on a moment's notice. (Many of these paintings are postcard sized). The simplicity and spontaneity lends itself to figure drawing as well, and has helped me take a break from longer works.

I first studied watercolor in high school with the late Connie Jost. It has intrigued me ever since. I had further study at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University while earning my degree in Scenic & Costume design for Theater, mainly for renderings. Over time, I began to enjoy the immediacy and portability of the medium, taking my paints on my travels, or setting them up in a minute on my desktop on a moment's notice. (Many of these paintings are postcard sized).

The simplicity and spontaneity of the medium lends itself to figure drawing as well, and has allowed me to explore more direct, gestural work. In 2014 Totts Gap Arts began a concert series combining live, improvised jazz and modern dance. Artists were encouraged to document the movement, in drawing, painting, photography and video. These spontaneous sketches have an almost calligraphic effect, where each mark is a dynamic element on its own.

 

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Fresco

Fresco is probably the oldest form of painting, its history dating to antiquity. It derives its name from the word “fresh” as the pigments are applied to freshly laid mortar, a mixture of lime and sand or marble dust. Painting must be completed while the mortar is wet, in one day’s work or “giornata” in italian. And since every stroke is visible in this highly transparent medium, work must be both quick and accurate. (Michaelangelo is believed to have chiseled off an entire section of the Sistine Chapel he was dissatisfied with in order to repaint.)

I first studied in a one-day course at Rutgers University. Further study led me to New York’s Parsons School of Design with Sheilah Rechtschaffer. I continue to research and practice the technique when time allows.

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Figure Drawing

I studied Figure Drawing with Lloyd McNeill and Ilya Shevel at Rutgers University. They each had a different approach, Lloyd emphasizing the power of the mark, abstraction, and a more "eastern" approach. Russian trained, Illya had a “classical” bent.

I’ve kept up a weekly practice ever since. In fact, one of the first things I set up at Totts Gap Arts Institute was our open Figure Drawing session to keep my skills honed. It still meets on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-9pm with a small but lively group of professionals and amateurs “doing the work”.

I’ve begun working in Conte pastel on colored Canson paper, doing extended drawings in addition to the typical warm ups.

 

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