Friday, April 28, 2006


>oil on linen, approx. 10" x 10", circa 2000.

>oil on canvas, 2000.

The Past II
Here's another painting done in two sections that I found in the closet, or rather the dregs of my harddrive. I had painted this while living in Williamsburg, right across the hall from Tomer Hanuka. Someone had posted a question about painting flesh, and this portrait might indicate that you can hide all sorts of color in skin. The trumpeter was painted from life under incandescent light. There are many approaches to observational painting -- one approach is to try and describe atmosphere and capture light, and the other is more like alchemy, when you believe that you are creating flesh on canvas, trasforming the paint into layers of blood, fat, and skin. In any case, five years later, I'm still pleased with how the ear in the portrait turned out . . . it just feels like rubbery cartilage.


Dion said...

WAUW ! (anamatope)
This is great. Craftmanship meets expression, in a subtle way...

2:26 AM  
Tommy Kane said...

Brilliant painting. Reminds me of Brad Holland a little. I accidentally came across Tomer Hanuku's website the other day. So it's quite a coincidence to see you lived across from each other. That's a lot of talent concentrated in a very small amount of space.

8:49 AM  
Shawn Escott said...

That ear is outstanding! How do you paint so small? Just a brilliant piece!

1:32 PM  
Logan said...

I love the idea of contrasting something 'loud' (the trumpet) against a seemingly silent and still figure. Coupled with such a delicate touch, it makes for a beautiful little painting.

Also, thanks for such a great analogy for approaching the material of paint, James. Alchemy! I love it! Ive never heard it put quite like that and it really opens up my imagination.

I was wondering, were your early Fables covers painted from life?

1:47 PM  
pascal digital said...

Very intense. Great expression. Dark music. Bewildered eyes. Nice posture.

1:15 AM  
jed said...

Nice. There IS a touch of Brad Holland in the face--but I like it anyway! (Oy, I hate his palette). Though nicely painted, the iconic quality of the face does make it a little impersonal, which wouldn't matter so much if it wasn't a portrait--like if this guy was in a scene with some other iconic looking guys. I too, marvel at how you can paint so damned small! Of course, this is a comparatively big one for you. Wouldn't mind seeing a closer view of that face in the bottom panel, though it seems on the hottish side, and contrasts a little too much, I think, with the rest of the painting--but it would make a good little painting in itself. You might consider taking a bandsaw to this one. Also, like the way the pants are treated as a sort of flatish shape. Jeez, how come awesome paintings don't turn up in MY closet?

7:04 AM  
Jake said...

Whats the deal w/ you and Tomer living across the hall from each other!? That sounds incredible.

7:59 PM  

we were dirt poor. the apartment building was a shit hole, even for Williamsburg. from the front window you can see the tall yellow flags of a gas station located across the street. the building was burglarized at least three times during my stay there and the floors were in a sharp angle so you always felt sea sick. James consistently out painted himself. i think it was a year right after graduation, where you just sit around and wait for something to happen. in the meantime sketchbooks were burned through, paint jars emptied and canned food devoured.

5:59 AM  
jed said...

Also, James: Whenever I mention your name, my wife sings it to the first couple of bars of Footloose. Something lIke, "James Jean! James Jean!"

I just thought you should know.

So is this somehow connected to that whole, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing?

7:21 PM  
jed said...

And sometimes it's "James Jean! James Jean! He is a drawing machine!"

7:23 PM  
Tony Akins said...

He IS a drawing machine! A PAINTING machine,too. Wonderful work, James! Congrats on the cover of Previews, btw. Great to see the book starting off so well! Love the cover to issue 2 also! You captured Old Sam PERFECTLY! You rock in a hundred thousand ways, man.

8:54 PM  
anonymous10101 said...

i've been a longtime fan of your work and am absolutely impressed by its evolution as well as your compositional skills. your work is extremely inspiring for all artist across the board. your dedication to the core aspects of fine art (fundamentals of drawing and composition) is what probably sets your work apart from most and as a fellow artist, is something that is definitely to be admired and respected in the art community.

2:30 PM  
Julia said...

@mr jean: it seems as if you have taken both approaches in your painting techniques? the first is more prevalent in generating mood and feel for the piece whereas the latter seems to come from the sculpting strokes which breath blue fairy life. a question. was this originally pieced together like so or is it just digitally pieced together?

@mr hanuka: and through these harrowing experiences, you both preservered and became the manly men you are now.

4:01 AM  
Process Recess said...

Dion - Thanks for the kind words!
Tommy - thanks for stopping by. Everyone should check out Tommy's blog -- a wealth of sketches and stories on there.
Shawn - I don't recommend painting small, but my living quarters at the time were tiny.
Logan - I used photographic reference for those early Fables covers.
Jed - thanks for the feedback, Jed. Yes, I've been blessed/cursed with a memorable name.
tomer - Those were formative years . . . lots of comics and second hand smoke.
tony - thanks! It's amazing to see all the little touches you put into the interior work that's not in the script, like the bet at the end of issue 2 and Alice flipping the bird. I can't wait to see how you flesh out the rest of the story . . .
anon10101 - I checked out the video on your site, very impressive drawings, please let me know when your site is finished.
julia - the painting is comprised of two sections of stretched canvas. Very cool renderings of Snow and Bigby on your blog!

11:34 PM  
jed said...

I both apologize and sympathize for the abuse of your name. I sympathize, because I'm sure you can imagine what I've had to put up with because of mine! I promise you, however, that it was meant purely as an affectionate tribute, an ode, if you will, to the industry of your drawing mad skillz.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous said...

You don't get nearly as much comments as I think you should praising your work. Awesome stuff, ive been hooked on you for years and recentley picked up your Book. Please give us a part 2, i can't get enough of it (maybe some old stuff, prequl book!)

7:59 PM  
jed said...

Not that he doesn't deserve it, (and he most assuredly does) but--if James got any more praise his head would explode! Besides, you don't want him to get complacent, do you? Lucky for us, I'm sure he'll be able to come up with new ways to challenge himself and his audience for years to come, no matter how many peanut butter and bananna sandwiches he eats! (I'm stil waiting for that gospel album James)

9:16 PM  
Maritza said...

Excellent site! I love your stuff too much!

2:00 PM  
Thomas said...

Stunning images, especially this one.
I' ma glad to have discovered your blog!

2:27 AM  
bartholomeus said...

Great painting. I really like this one.

how strangely different from your illustrations.

Posted about it on my blog:

bartholomeus at oskarlewis dot com

1:32 PM  
Mu said...

I remember these !! I weas in your apartment when you were doing it and Tomer was next door that day, he said these paintings are almost racist.

sweet memories, you got to come back!

6:17 AM  
Jon Han said...

Nice work James

8:03 PM  
Anonymous said...

Your works are amazingly beautiful.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous said...

some amazing work James. Can we see a close up of the mid-section?

8:16 AM  
Anonymous said...

I love Tomer's work and thats probably why I love yours too! I didn't know you guys lived across the hall from each other in williamsburg. That's an interesting little piece of info. Great work man!

2:44 PM  

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