September 16, 2019

I can imagine few tasks as lonely as painting. I believe this characteristic of my art form motivates painting classes, “plein air” excursions and painting clubs. Most artists are not hermits. They do not choose to work alone.

If that is so, why is the public’s mental image of an artist one of a lonely soul working feverishly in a garret somewhere? Because that image rings true.

Painting is a solitary process. It often begins with a visitation by the creative muse inspiring a person to invent something from nothing. Then an execution commences that can be very messy. Paint, dirty brushes, spill prone containers of mediums, water or brush cleaner all invite cleaning catastrophe. Add infinite numbers of progress decisions by the artist - each a solitary and singular choice taken to expedite an outcome only visible in the painter’s mind - would force me to exile the perpetrator immediately to one of those garrets. The process demands isolation.

So, most paintings happen by an artist working...

September 2, 2019

Surprise! The reason for painting is not to make a picture. The picture that results from the process of painting is a by-product.

It may be a useful, valuable or interesting by-product but it is only a reminder of the past. The object of any true work of art, including a painting, is the attainment of a high mental and physical function (much higher than ordinary) that occurs while creating art. The results are important to the artist because they are records of an experience which the artist immensely enjoyed and wants to recapture.

With painting, it is reasonable that taking up painting materials and beginning to manipulate them will evoke this state of high function. There are artists who are always at the easel, tools in hand, waiting.  Appreciation of a subject, hearing music, a graceful gesture -- all these things may inspire. The artist treasures the fuller functioning that comes with inspiration because of its higher state of living. Artists are different. They live living. Othe...

November 6, 2018

Occasionally when I look back at paintings that I did several years ago (like this one) I return to the joy and enthusiasm that engulfed me when I painted them. This oil painting of the Arnold W. Oliver caught my attention today. I worked primarily from a photograph that I took from another ferry as we passed. I almost missed the shot because I was watching a dolphin frolicking alone beside the ferry that I rode. This was early morning and the salt air I remember most refreshing and the sea gulls swooped our ferry hoping for a quick breakfast. The haze in the distance softened the colors of an almost placid Bay and the waters reflected green as they bubbled below the hull. The ferry is actually moving from viewer left to right but not faster that the wind, notice the smoke from the stack floating viewer right to left. The family near the front of the ferry focused on the same dolphin as it moved past their viewpoint. The seagull flying over the rear of the ferry was not there for real...

October 15, 2018

When I enjoy local and regional art shows and exhibits I notice a lot, in fact the majority, of what I see falls in a category that I call "decorative art." And there is noting wrong with that... "but" in a moment.

In fact, sometimes I paint in the category, the painting shown here is a recent example. I think without reading other artist's minds that painting of this nature come from an artist's desire to please. The creativity process becomes distorted by that desire to please to the extent that subject matter, technique, color, lighting depicted plus all other aspects of the painting are dictated not by what the painter's talent produces but by what the artist thinks will please his or her public. Nothing wrong with that - in fact it is the focused path to sales. But is it actually art? Granted, it is decoration but to me art is purer than a desire to make a buck. Most of you would consider me dead wrong here...but... think about it.

September 24, 2018

New 16" x 12" watercolor titled "First Snow is the first painting featured under the new web site tab "Ptg in Progress." Click on the tab and watch step-by-step progress visuals of the painting as it evolves from a simple pencil drawing to a complete watercolor or oil painting.

In this case, it is a watercolor. An in-progress feature many years ago was extremely popular on this website which motivated me to reinstate the feature. However, during the elapsed time this type of passive demonstration has proliferated across the web on You Tube and elsewhere so it may not become the feature it once was.

If it does become popular, I may try some "in progress" videos - we will just wait and see.

September 18, 2018

Got the itch to do a watercolor and made this one up. Probably saw a painting or something in the past that stuck in my mind but that's not the point. For a while there, couple of years, I did few watercolors and for some reason was bored or burned out with them.

This is a jump back into painting. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I think I will do more which got me thinking about something else.

Years ago a popular feature on this site was an "in-progress still pictures of a painting as it developed" tab which I think that I will start again.

Times have changed and so has technology. I might try a little video?

October 7, 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016, it was my pleasure to be a finalist in the prestigious Hunting Prize competition and exhibition. 1,700 artists from Texas submitted their 2-deminsional works, 124 were selected by judges as finalist and one, an artist from Houston, won the $50,000.00 prize. I did not win. I do not even know if I was close. I have my own opinion now that the Hunting released images of all the finalists. If you are interested, search 2016 Hunting Prize finalists to view a collection of outstanding artworks and form your own opinion. But that is not my subject of this blog.

The Hunting Prize exhibition was by far the largest, the most prestigious, the most opulent, the most well organized and the most impressive exhibit of current art that I have ever experienced. With this blog article, I am sharing some photographs that took, snapshots by a barely adequate photographer of a beautiful occurence. In fact, I believe the pictures speak better than words. Thank you Hunting Oil Compan...

February 11, 2016

I was very pleased to be notified that one of my paintings, “Experienced Hatter,” is a finalist in the 2016 Hunting Art Prize competition. This prestigious competition features a $50,000.00 prize and is sponsored by the Hunting Oil Company of Houston, Texas. The finalists exhibit in Houston and final judging is accomplished from original paintings culminating in an award gala April 30, 2016.

This 6' x 5' oil painting was inspired by a visit to Peter's Hat Company in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Few places have I visited where the atmosphere of craftsmanship, tradition and professional pride in the creation process were so evident. It felt as if I had physically entered the art oil painting process but in another medium, hand-made hats. Visually, the shop was stunning, crammed with objects that danced with shape and color. It demanded a painting and I am proud the results are attracting attention.

September 19, 2015

My appreciation is extended to Maryland Federation of Art's 5th Annual Strokes of Genius exhibit juror, Joann Moser of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, who included two of my paintings, Pier at Fulton and Rio Grande River Near St. Elena Canyon (shown below) in its 58 paintings exhibition October 31-November 21 at MFA Circle Gallery,18 State Circle, Annapolis MD. 

I invite all of you that follow my work to attend the exhibit if you are in the Washington D.C., Baltimore or Annapolis areas during the month of November. It is my plan to be on-site Sunday, November 8th and Monday, November 9th to personally meet as many of you as is possible. It is my pleasure to be included in this national prestigious exhibit and I thank the Maryland Federation of Art, its staff and juror Joann Moser as well as the MFA Circle Gallery and its staff for their hard work with this event.

Thank you.

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    Oil and Watercolor Paintings by James A. Humphrey    © 2019

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