James Kirkland

“The natural world has a complexity and resolution beyond measure, as colors can be recorded somewhat accurately. Accurately recording the subtlest shapes of nature is almost impossible, so I reduce nature’s objects to their basic forms and try to capture the subtle characteristics and movement of each object by sculpting the paint in a similar fashion.”

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  • Cedar Mountain Sunflowers, oil, 10 x 14
  • Cedar Mountain Sage, oil, 8 x 10
  • Black Mountain Juniper,oil, 10 x 14

James Kirkland

Medium: Oil paint

I’ve been painting all my life. Fifty years have passed and I’m still not sure what a painting is. Even so, each time I see a Van Gogh painting, or other great pieces of art, I am inspired by something mysterious. Maybe the act of viewing or creating art is something that cannot be understood with words or even the mind. For the last twenty years or more I have been producing images for advertising. By doing this work, an artist is challenged to produce images with a wide variety of subject matter, surfaces, textures, etc., that he may not otherwise consider painting. My career as a commercial illustrator has been very educational.

Early on I was awarded a few art scholarships. I turned each of these down to pursue math and science, this did not last long. I then approached an internationally famous artist, Kim Whitesides, asking if I could study with him, this relationship continued for eighteen years. I should mention three additional working relationships that followed, each pioneers in their field, Kenvin Lyman, Joseph Heiner, and Doug Strouthers.

After having produced hundreds of images for a majority of the world’s largest corporations and notable individuals, I find myself painting the same, preraphalolite, romantic landscapes and wildlife paintings, as I began to do from the age of four.

My paintings can take several years to complete. Often I apply many layers of very thin transparent paint. It’s not uncommon of my more elaborate paintings to apply dozens of layers, each requiring weeks to dry, for some, years in total.

This elaborate painting style is due to my attempt to reproduce the techniques found in the great paintings of masters. For many years i worked in New York City, and had the opportunity to live next to the Metropolitan Museum, it was here, as well the Louvre in Paris France, that I studied a fair number of important paintings by Van Gogh, Turner, Vermeer, Monet, Jean Francois Millet, Leonardo Da Vinci, and more. I value the effort these artists gave their work. Unfortunately I rarely find this degree of quality with contemporary artists. I feel a bit arrogant voicing these opinions, but it’s important to me to produce the highest quality paintings as I can. I use the finest portrait grade Belgian linens & linseed oils, and natural turpentine. I dry my linseed oil in the sun for many months or even years, prior to use, I mix my own paints from a full range of the finest grade natural earth pigments. Additionally, the many layers of paint in my paintings are dried with ultra violet light when the sun is not available, providing a controlled natural environment, and my frames are constructed with aged wood to provide a secure structure to prevent warping. As an example, a Steinway piano is made with wood carefully aged for forty years or more but unfortunately, for most contemporary paintings of equal value, this effort is not made.

Artist Statement

“The natural world has a complexity and resolution beyond measure. As colors can be recorded somewhat accurately. Accurately recording the subtlest shapes of nature is almost impossible, So I reduce natures objects to their basic forms and try to capture the subtle characteristics and movement of each object by sculpting the paint in a similar fashion. Color I believe, more than any other aspect of a painting is most important, and conveys a tremendous amount of information so much so that the use of the right color placed even approximately the right location can give the observer all the information he needs to reconstruct an image seemingly in accurate full detail. I believe a painting done properly can be an interactive experience, and maybe this is true for all paintings. So if this is true, is it possible that each of us has a visual intelligence far beyond what we would believe, and far beyond what is required to create a painting. Consequently, I believe we are all artists, whatever that might be.”

Reviews

“James has created a number of images for GQ. We are stunned by the detailed work and craftsmanship he puts into each image. When you come across his image on the page of the magazine you literally want to touch it, it looks that real. In the age of ‘production porn’ James’ attention to detail is astonishing.”

– Anton Loukhnovets, Senior art director of GQ Magazine

James Kirkland

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MONDAY-SATURDAY: 10-5:30 p.m.

THURSDAY: extended hours from 7-9 p.m. for the Scottsdale ArtWalk

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