My artwork is the result of my deep desire to bridge the divide between two nations; my birth country and my adopted country. Throughout the years and in both countries I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and with seasons conducive to renewing ones perspective. Seasons bring new discovery to our ever changing planet. This change is also a reflection of ourselves and leads to a kind of transformation.
For just as seasons bring immense change to a landscape, our own emotional change drives us to view the same landscape each time with different eyes. Hence creating new land from old. Many artists have realized this:
"Sometimes I long so much to do landscape, just as one would go for a long walk to refresh oneself, and in all of nature, in trees for instance, I see expression and a soul.”
— Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, December 10, 1882, to Theo van Gogh
I am predominantly a Landscape artist. My love for this land and planet sometimes feels like religious rapture. In essence I am a Blue Dome groupie. It is impossible to go anywhere and not want to pay homage to the Eco-system which brought me into this world and continues to sustain me. In my case I attempt to express my love for this planet through the visual arts and the written word.
”The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
I was born and raised in a Welsh mining community at the climax of its industrial lifespan. Most of the population lived within walking distance of a coal mine. I was determined not to go underground and work in the mines as was the fate of most boys, so I extended my schooling to create a portfolio and apply for a government grant to Cardiff art college under the tutoring of Ernest Zoboli a prominent Welsh artist. My family was not wealthy enough to support my dreams so this was an alternate way out. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Only one grant was awarded and it was rightfully awarded to another person for sadly having only one parent. We had tied.
I was fortunate however to have an uncle who continued to tutor me. He was already a credited artist and we would often paint En plein air. At twenty seven I emigrated to my adopted country Canada and continued to express myself on canvas and on paper with pen and ink. I had found a new land with vistas that continued to feed my artistic drive. I continue to further my self-taught education. I participated in an ‘Art Walk About’ event in Grimsby, Ontario which placed art installations from a dozen artists in government buildings, banks, institutions and stores. It’s purpose was to bring art to the masses.
A most memorable opportunity arose after being approached to guide a New York based atelier with students on a fact finding trip and complimentary outdoors studio to an environmentally sensitive area where a projected highway was to be constructed…the Niagara Escarpment world biosphere reserve. On completion of the assembled works they were displayed as part of the protest against urban sprawl. I have found many Artists to be very creative and socially proactive Individuals.
I despise the pomp of art critics and the majority of vultures who view artists works only as fodder for their own coffers. I do however applaud the sincere art collectors as well as museums for educating the masses. For myself I would prefer to donate a painting to someone with a modest income than sell one to someone purely seeking to compliment their home deco. Whenever a professional art critic explains a piece of work their interpretation of it is dramatically determined by learned and inaccurate biases. Many of these biases throughout the ages have been expressed against race, social stratification, colour and gender. Yet traditionally a high percentage of white males critics still resist the fact that artists have not nor have ever been only white males. Unfortunately some still struggle to accept this realization.
The real test of unfettered creativity evolves from artists themselves. They are the ones who defy current inaccurate logic, understand the dilemma and they are the ones that quietly undermine the crumbling foundation of those who struggle to maintain academic authority over the arts. Artists works are the harbingers of fresh approaches and like poetry... art should be read in a way that is open to mystery and meaning. Inaccurate criticism can destroys a beautiful narrative. Unfortunately what we actually see in the critic world is the tail wagging the dog.
A happy note to my career. While I was unable to ‘follow my dream’ as a young man, my son was able to accomplish the dream.
Paul Richard James A.O.C.A., B.F.A.., B.Ed.
Web site: www.oldmasters.ca