Jim’s figurative collection will be on display at Lehigh Valley Arts Council (840 Hamilton Street, Suite 201, Allentown) until the end of June. Our hours of operation are 9am to 5pm.
How did you get started as an artist?
I come from a family of 8 girls and 5 boys. My earliest memories are of sketching with my older brother. Two of my older sisters studied art, and my mother was very encouraging. I later found out that my father painted as a younger man, and though he had no formal training, his landscapes are quite good.
How long have you been a practicing artist?
In the broadest sense, as long as I can remember. To me being a practicing artist is not just applying paint to canvas. I live my life
with open eyes and ears, and try to approach everything I do with thoughtfulness and creativity.
Do you have any formal artistic training?
I received extensive training in everything from art and architectural history, drawing, rendering and literature while earning a BFA in Scene and Costume Design for Theater. I don’t think I would have received as good a background had I been an art major. At the time, all of the art faculty were abstract expressionists and post modernists. I’m interested in the materials and methods of art making. I’ve also studied Fresco, and Scagliola in New York, Rome and Venice, and continue to research and study traditional oil technique. I believe the craft of painting—traditional preparation of gesso and media, painting “en plein aire”– is integral to the outcome of my work. It informs and effects the end result. There is a dialog between the artist and his materials.
What does it mean to you to be displaying your work?
Artists lead necessarily solitary lives when working, and it can be isolating. I look forward to having a means of communicating my ideas to a wider audience.
What do you feel inspires your work?
Nature, first and foremost. And in this case, the figure. I’ve always been interested in drawing portraits, sketching people in daily life; riding subways, in waiting rooms, at concerts. I’ve attended figure sessions without fail for my adult life, and I set up sessions at my school from the beginning. I’ll work in different media, with conte pastel being my most recent exploration. Though, I’ve been doing watercolors, especially of dancers and musicians.
Please list anything else you think we need to know about you.
I feel fortunate to have realized at a young age the importance of the creative process to my wellbeing. I have had the great fortune of having studied under some very gifted instructors and mentors. It has allowed me to focus on the process of art making and not the distractions of the art market. Success to me is the ability to keep creating on a daily basis.
Are you involved with the artistic community in any way? (Committees, Art Councils, Etc.)?
In 2006 my wife and I founded the non-profit Totts Gap Arts Institute, a community arts center for fine and performing arts in Mt. Bethel, PA. of which I am Artistic Director. I also participate in the Celebration of the Arts festival in Delaware Water Gap, and The Ralph Hughes Memorial Scholarship for young musicians. I have volunteered in the Bangor community for the past 15 years or so, designing scenery for the musical productions while teaching the students painting and design.