Artist Jim Pescott - AIC Interview

Artist Jim Pescott, when asked about his favourite piece of art:

“I don’t have a ‘favourite piece of work’. When I create something it is intended to have a life of it’s own. The painting has been created for some one and we often don’t even know who the someone is. But, I believe the painting knows who and will reach out to a viewer’s heart in very personal ways so they feel attachment and an urge to respond to their heart feelings. If I hold one of my paintings as ‘my favourite’ I impede this process: I interfere with what should happen naturally between paintings and people. I often think my studio seems like a rescue centre where paintings wait hopefully for a forever home.”

Question:
When did you realize you had the need to create and develop your skills?
Answer:
Decades ago! But it took me quite a few of those decades to actually step up and do what I do. I first knew at age three when a commercial artist drew a cowboy on my chalkboard for me: I can still see the image happen. So for the next ten years I drew and drew and drew. But as I got older life got in the way: for example, in high school I wasn't allowed to take 'art' because I was a boy and so I took wood working. It wasn't until I was aged 45 that life seemed to clear a bit for me one day when I found myself saying, "I wish I was 65 so I could do the things I want to do." Two things about this: one, at this point I was so busy with my successful national level career that I had no idea what it was I wanted to do, and two, I realized in that moment of thought I was wishing twenty years of my life away. But this also was the genesis of my return to doing art. It took about three more years to make the transition.

Question:
Right now, what is your medium of choice and what is your favourite subject matter?
Answer:
For the last twenty years I've painting with acrylic on canvas. It's basically all I do and all I've done. I'm essentially a landscape artist but the reality of things is that I can paint anything. I very much enjoy painting landscapes and I also enjoy floral themes. So my subjects are all things landscape and flowers (are they landscapes?). And I love it when someone asks me to paint a portrait of an pet they cherish (yes, and people too).

Question:
All artists at all stages of their career want to try something new, what other medium or subject matter do you see yourself experimenting with?
Answer:
As an artist I've been dedicated to my painting style, contemporary pointillism, and to painting acrylic on canvas for about twenty years. Basically that's for as long as I've been an artist. I play with drawing sometimes. I think if I were to set out into something new it would be three dimensional. I love the shapes of sculpture: something appearing from a block of material is arresting to me. I think I.d also enjoy shaping on a potter's wheel.

Question:
Continuing education, do you partake and if so what did you learn?
Answer:
I'm a self taught artist. So, in this, I've not ever been to an art class or a workshop. I seem happiest teaching myself how things evolve and happen. These things become my own expression rather than a reflection of how someone has shown me how to do something. Somehow this really matters to me. I guess I can say it works: have a look at my paintings and decide for yourself.

Question:
Have you ever taught a class or done an artist talk? If so, what did you talk about or teach? Can people sign up for your workshops and how?
Answer:
I not ever taught classes. First, I've never been to one so I'm not familiar with the expectations. The other thing is my painting methods are not familiar ones in the traditional sense of things. I start with a dot of acrylic paint and end with a dot of acrylic paint and there can be up to fifteen or so layers of acrylic dots in between. Not sure this is what students are looking for.

Question:
Have you ever painted en plein air? What was the biggest hurdle for you? Environmental challenges, wildlife, people, weather?
Answer:
When I have time, I love to paint in the outdoors. It's very relaxing to be away like this. While I'm not sure I'd paint in a rain storm, I simply work with the elements and surroundings as givens. I'm very quiet as I paint and I remember, one afternoon while painting a pond and trees at the far end that were reflecting back towards me, a deer slowly walked between me and the shore line which was a space of about ten feet.

Question:
Do you do commissions? If so, what is your process?
Answer:
I very much enjoy doing commissions. And I love it when people share their memory photos of images they want to see as a painting: its a wonderful way to connect. My process, after the subject is determined, is to share 'In process images' so people see what is happening. The feedback I receive is that everyone loves this and they feel very bonded to the end result. The commission painting is always my expression and interpretation: I've very clear about this. When I paint the canvas talks to me and sometimes this can be an adventure. So I talk with the canvas before starting a commission project to share that the painting has some requirements. It all works out well.

Question:
What is your favourite art related quote?
Answer:
Not sure I really have a favourite "art related quote". I'm self-taught and in this I'm not academic as some artists may be following art school experiences. I don't consider myself well read about art and I've not studied artists. For example, when I began painting twenty years ago I was painting with dots within twenty days and at that time I didn't know about pointillism and George Pierre Seurat who brought pointillism to the world. My main interest is how art and the soul are so very connected.

Question:
Do you have a favourite artist and what do you like about their art? Have you ever met them?
Answer:
I really don't have a favourite artist in the way this question is asked. I enjoy a good painting as much as anyone for the value it brings to us as the viewer. The only person who inspired me to be an artist was the commercial artist I mentioned in Question 1 above. Her name was Ruth and she was a friend of my mom who had dropped by for coffee one morning probably in 1950 (as I was three years old at the time). Twenty years ago when I started painting and began with dots (I still have that first painting) I wasn't focused on art as a career: I simply held an constant vision of my paintings one day being seen on walls.

Question:
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
Answer:
Inspiration is simply everywhere. I often say I must see 100 things to paint everyday and this really is how it is for me. I love how light and shadows dance and this always catches my attention. Also, I seem to have a sense of framing things in an imaginary way to 'make a picture'. Sometimes I paint 'things' from memory, sometimes I take a photo (I must have 25+k photos in my computer). The truth is that while I see so many things to paint so very few find there way to the canvas. Just how it is.

Question:
Where do you typically create art?
Answer:
Mostly I work in my studio.

Question:
How do you know when your art is complete?
Answer:
The canvas talks with me as a painting happens. When the canvas stops talking the painting is finished. If there seems a struggle in the process of painting its because I'm not listening.

Question:
What is most challenging to you when starting a new project?
Answer:
I don't feel a 'challenge' when starting a new project. It is about fun and passion and I simply get started. My paintings are about the energy of light and I love sharing in this way. I don't think it is possible for me to paint something that is unhappy or negative.

Question:
What advice would you give to an artist starting out?
Answer:
My advice is to listen to your artistic voice, accept it, and be who you are. This is your path.

Question:
What keeps you going forward with your art in this very competitive industry?
Answer:
People often look at my paintings and say that I must be very patient to paint them as I do. I respond by telling them that if the painting required 'patience' I simply wouldn't do it, and that what happens for me is passion. It really is passion that keeps me going.

Question:
In your studio, right now, what is your most important tool that you would be lost without?
Answer:
In my studio, right now, the most important tool I would be lost without is hearing: my ability to listen to the canvas talking to me when I'm painting. I discovered this very early as I learned to paint. The canvas is my partner. We have some marvellous times together.

Question:
What is your favourite piece of work you have created, thus far?
Answer:
I don't have a 'favourite piece of work'. When I create something it is intended to have a life of it's own. The painting has been created for some one and we often don't even know who the someone is. But, I believe the painting knows who and will reach out to a viewer's heart in very personal ways so they feel attachment and an urge to respond to their heart feelings. If I hold one of my paintings as 'my favourite' I impede this process: I interfere with what should happen naturally between paintings and people. I often think my studio seems like a rescue centre where paintings wait hopefully for a forever home.

Question:
What is the most well received piece of art you have created?
Answer:
Possibly this is a 24"x24" canvas called "Trees Dance As The Sunlight Plays The Songs". I painted this from my thoughts which always seems like doodling to me. Painting from my thoughts always seems to involve a place I remember but where I've never visited. So this painting, a painting from my thoughts, was juried by the historic Societe National des Beaux-Artes (SNBA) in Paris, France, for the annual Salon at an exhibition hall in the Carrousel du Louvre which is otherwise part of the building the world simply knows as The Louvre. This is the fifth of my paintings over the years the SNBA has juried and accepted. It seems the most special one because it is something I doodled as I listened to the canvas in my studio. The SNBA, is 150+ years old: the 'Salon' is the same Salon that Monet and his contemporaries struggled with in Paris over a century ago. I was recently made an associate member of the SNBA.

Question:
Do you have a favourite gallery or museum that you visit?
Answer:
I much love the Musee d'Orse in Paris. Also the MOMA in New York City. That said I much enjoy any place that holds a good painting to be enjoyed.