Tennessean Impressionist Painter Jeff Jamison brings 14 new works featuring the Holy City to the Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art gallery this Friday, November 7. A graduate of the Art Institute of Florida, Jamison utilizes Old Master techniques coupled with a manipulation of light and brushstroke to create his contemporary Impressionist style. Jamison is internationally celebrated for his exquisite works and has received the “Award of Excellence” from the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils, Top 100 in the Paint America Association’s Paint the Parks, and Third Place in the Salon International Museum of Contemporary Masters.
Kristie Landing in conversation with Jeff Jamison:
K: What inspired you for your newest show, “Shades of Charleston?”
J: I’ve been coming here for about 9 years with two to three shows annually…I’ve never really painted Charleston before, but I was taken with it immediately.
My friend once said to me, “As a painter, how do you walk around Charleston and not lose your mind…there are so many paintings it must be overwhelming.” It’s true, there are a lot of paintings, but they inspire me. There are a lot of things to paint here—architecture, shadows on buildings. Sometimes I play a game with myself—how many colors do I see, how many shadows can I count?
K: That game seems like great practice for capturing light and colors in your works…besides Charleston, what subjects do you like to paint?
J: Street scenes, typically figurative. I try to capture a fleeting moment in a simplistic way. There is always a little bit of mystery; the feeling that the painting is a little unfinished. This allows the viewer of my works to become more than a voyeur….they are a participant.
I am fascinated with the human ability to understand what they are seeing—they understand so much and are able to fill in the blanks. People finish the lines I leave out, they don’t need everything spelled out for them.
K: That’s beautiful. How has your process changed over time?
J: I started painting as an art student, which meant that I was copying everything that I looked at. For 20-25 years, I took what I saw and put that in my works. Originally, I wanted to paint in an Old World traditional style…like John Singer Sargent. Eventually, I began branching out and now 90 % of the subjects in my paintings come from my head. My advice to artists: Be true to yourself. Push yourself as far as you can when you are learning and then force yourself over a cliff. The process is painful, but that’s part of being an artist. Sometimes I tell myself to finish a work even if I’m unhappy with it…I tell myself I’m done and then I go back a few days later and change it. Artists have to be a little bit crazy.
K: In a good way! So, who is your favorite artist?
J: John Singer Sargent. And Joaquín Sorolla. They were put here on the Earth to show everyone else what is possible.
K: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
J: Someone said to me recently, “When I look at your work, I feel that if I close my eyes and open them again, the scene will be gone.” I’m not sure what they meant by this, but my hope is that they saw my work as a fleeting moment, like a dream. The painting was dreamlike…
K: What do you think about when painting?
J: Painting is a meditation for me. I don’t think about art or other artists when I am painting—I think about life. I’m interested in philosophical questions…in human behavior and how we think and act.
K: How would you define art?
J: What is art? Does it stop and make you ask questions, because if it does, it is art. But, who’s got time for that?
K: Is there anything you would like to add before we close?
J: I think it’s hilariously funny.
K: What is?
J: Painting, framing, shipping, boxing… everything. Making a living out of painting. I take my career seriously in that I would never want it to change. But it’s a trip!
Jeff Jamison: Shades of Charleston
November 7- December 1, 2014
Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art
58 Broad Street, Charleston