Below are a few digital sketches that represent a snapshot of what has been going on in my painting studio lately. Working digitally like this has the huge benefit of offering infinite flexibility when working with colors. I also love to dig for intuitive geometric compositions in my paintings, and Adobe Illustrator is well suited to this kind of sketching. This sketch should be a finished painting by now, but I keep revisiting it, tweaking the colors to try to achieve the balance of light/dark and intensity that it needs. I ended up going with the top design with the chain of small rectangles running across the diagonal. Continuing to play with the red/pink/white/blue palette and simple—bordering on obvious!—geometry. I am currently making the painting that is depicted in this digital concept photo. I created the palette after spending some time at the collectors’ land in west Texas, home of big skies, cedar, mesquite, and earth. When finished, this painting will be an important piece of the collectors’ newly remodeled home! This sketch did not make the cut for the above commission, but it has found a place in my painting queue. It uses the west Texas palette, and does some of the things with simple color, light and space that keep my eyeballs coming back to look again.
Believer, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 31″ x 47″ My most recent painting takes a turn toward representation. I used additive and reductive painting techniques to create the image, as I have been doing in my non-objective works, but this time I was evoking a still life by Henri Fantin-Latour, whose intimate paintings are so quiet, yet sculptural, in the way he uses light and shadow to create space. Plus, finally seeing the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection was a huge inspiration as I approached this painting. Looking at Twombly and Fantin-Latour is humbling and uplifting at the same time, and this painting owes its swirling circular shapes and its palette to both painters.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEW ART-THEMED COMIC BOOK RELEASED IN DALLAS Jim Public, the enterprise of artist James Hough, publishes Starving Artist, a comic book about art, family, and hamburgers DALLAS, TX — Jim Public is proud to announce the publication of the new comic book Starving Artist: Jim Public Presents, Volume 1 by Dallas-based artist James Hough. The comic tells the story of Jim, an artist and family man whose aesthetic ambitions are vitally linked to his domestic and gastric aspirations. “Jim has a plan to sell a painting and use the cash to take his family out for burgers,” says Mr. Hough. “Starving Artist is a slice-of-life story that connects the artist’s career to the artist’s home and family. It is an Anti-Myth of the Artist.” The reader first sees Jim floating pajama-clad through his dreams of fame, fortune, and food before he is abruptly awakened by an early alarm clock. From there he makes his kids breakfast and kisses them good-bye, setting off to exhibit his painting on the downtown Dallas streets. The story is semi-autobiographical, much of it based on Hough’s experiences as the proprietor of his mobile gallery of contemporary art, Jim Public’s Truck. “The gallery continues its mission ‘to present artwork in unusual, spontaneous, and neighborly ways’ with the publication of Starving Artist,” says Hough. “The comic exists digitally and in the traditional paper format, and it costs the tiniest fraction of an original painting, for example. It is an extremely accessible piece of art, a bit spontaneous and very neighborly.” The comic also features Hough’s new painting Burger Night and a bonus educational chart entitled “All Art Is Abstract Art,” which includes the artist’s renderings of famous paintings from art history organized into a concise lesson on abstract art. Starving Artist: Jim Public Presents, Volume 1 by James Hough is available on paper at www.jimpublic.com/books and digitally at eBookstores everywhere.
I worked on this painting off and on for a long time. In fact, after my attentions progressively made it worse, I was driven into a brief retirement from painting altogether. “Who needs paint anyways!” I shouted silently to myself. “It’s just stupid goo!” But I pulled through and finished it, thanks mostly to my wife for her encouragement and a little bit to myself for remembering that I actually do like paint.
Here are some studies I made for a project I’m working on. The project is an educational chart that attempts to organize a broad range of abstract art and to portray abstract art in a way that makes sense to people who may not spend as much time as I do staring at it.
Last Saturday, now that it’s already getting dark here in Dallas by 6pm, it was time at last to figure out how to make a self-contained lighting system for the gallery. One portable power device (designed to jump start your car) and two 12.5 watt LED lights later, plus some wood, screws, spray paint, and work light fixtures, I had my solution! Henceforth the gallery will be a bright jewel lighting up those nights that I hit the road to show some artwork. It was a chilly evening and more sparsely attended than spring and autumn gallery nights in the Design District. Standing out there in the cold and peaceful darkness under the new lights, I felt a particular surge of good feeling that I usually get only when I’m out in our front yard in December, enjoying the quiet glow of our Christmas lights at home. After Dragon Street I drove to the Fair Park area to Ash Studios, where Fred Villenueva had invited me to a Bring Your Own Art party he was hosting. It was a fun time. I enjoyed the rare chance to bring my work with me, by way of illustrating quite directly what I do when getting acquainted with people at the party. When asked what I did, the questioner and I walked around the gate and there it was, the thing I do.
I took the truck gallery down to Oak Cliff last Saturday and enjoyed a beautiful day. Some friends showed up mid-afternoon and we decided to drive the exhibition of my large canvas Bump around the Bishop Arts District, in search of food, drink, and, eventually, pie. Up until Saturday I had not driven while displaying artwork, but the coziness of the Oak Cliff community and the security of having a friend in the bed of the truck keeping an eye on things were enough to get the gallery past that milestone. Currently I am designing a new wall that will be easier to assemble and strike and that will also give me options for displaying artwork while driving. Always, Jim Public’s Truck is about fun and accessibility. So the mission continues…