"City Garden #10" Acrylic on Canvas 30" x 40"
In 2019, James Gummerson shared a dual exhibit with Donna Fratesi, one of our Earls Court Gallery Artist. After a bright and dynamic exhibition we invited Gummerson to also become one of our gallery artists. This means Gummerson’s paintings will always be available at the gallery for viewing. Plus, you can expect to see him in many more exhibits here.
Since then, his paintings have found many homes. I can honestly say, up until a week ago I was enjoying one of Gummerson’s City Garden paintings in my office, before it was snatched up and taken away. Gummerson’s work offers a playful technique with acrylic and oil paints; he leaves volume of paint on the canvas to form landscape and cityscapes. His subject matters also instill emotion through his high contrast in light that dance across a street, or bleach out green grass.
Enjoy getting to know a bit more about James Gumerson’s background on how he came to the arts and be sure to spy one of his paintings in the gallery the next time you visit. You won’t regret the experience.
--Curator Andrea Jackman
When did you first become interested in art?
I've been interested in art since I was a little boy. It started out with coloring at the kitchen table. I would go through coloring book after coloring book. It soon turned into drawing and I would draw from all kinds of books; animals and nature mostly. I would draw for hours until it was time to go to bed. I sometimes miss the act of just drawing for the sake of drawing itself. No end goal except the pure pleasure of drawing.
What are you working on right now?
My most recent work is inspired by the relationship between nature and the urban landscape. In 2019, my series of paintings entitled "City Garden" was part of a two person show at Earls Court Gallery. I've always enjoyed nature, but I love the contrast of man-made objects with organic forms.
What mediums do you work with?
I work mainly in acrylic and oils on stretched canvas. It's hard to say which I prefer as both have particular advantages over the other.
What inspires your work?
From a strictly technical aspect I am inspired by dramatic lighting and high contrast. I guess you could say I am a "Notan" kind of guy. "Notan" being a Japanese term for Dark and light harmony. On subject matter I go for nature mostly—although, in 2019, my show at Earls Court Gallery explored the relationship between nature and the urban landscape. Some of my recent work still explores this subject matter.
"Evening Walk #1" Acrylic on Canvas 30" x 30"
Available at Earls Court Gallery
What drives you to working large?
I think large paintings to me suggest big ideas. Big concepts. When I really feel for a particular subject I go big. The sheer size of the image encompasses you and draws you in.
Which artist/s have influenced your work the most throughout your career?
I have a laundry list of artists I love, but I would say my most influential was Andrew Wyeth, Robert Bateman, and the Group of Seven. I have various other contemporaries, but these ones have always been who I turned to for guidance. I think it’s the dedication and focus on a life spent on an en-devour larger than oneself that I admire the most about these artists. They remind me that hard work and practice will help an artist grow beyond themselves.
If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?
I think I would be a modern philosopher or philanthropist. In many ways I think of myself in those vocations...part time at least anyway.
How has your artistic practice changed over time?
My work has gone through many "phases" over the years, I guess you could say. A lot of those depended on an influential artist or painting style, I was particularly interested in at the time. Overtime, I sort of found a particular theme and style running through my work that I just kept doing no matter what the flavor of the year was. Truthfully, I am always changing, growing, experimenting. For me it’s essential to my art and my own personal growth. I think that's the way life is. It keeps changing and so do you.
"City Garden #6"
Acrylic on Canvas 36" x 36"
"City Garden #2"
Acrylic on Canvas 30" x 30"
What is your dream project?
In the words of Andrew Wyeth... "the one I'm working on."
What would you like others to know about your art that you think is unique?
What I think some people find unique about my work is the parallel between realism and impressionism. I spent a lot of my career trying to find a cross between the two, as well as trying to work in abstract concepts. I aim to create something that is real and painterly at the same time. I find people are attracted to the textures.
If you could give a younger artist some advice what would it be?
I teach Continuing Education Painting at a local college here in Hamilton and students always ask me "how do I get my work out there". I reply... "focus on good quality work first." Promoting yourself on social media, networking with other artists, and putting your work where you can is important. But I believe that incredible effort creates incredible results and that well thought out quality work speaks for itself. This kind of work makes it easier to stand behind and so too for the galleries you want to be part of.
"City Garden #4" Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 36"
Available at Earls Court Gallery
Can you tell us about the sacrifices and reward of a long artistic Career?
As with any other career you make sacrifices. I think once I learned that you can do either this... or that and sometimes both if your lucky, but you can’t do it all; decisions and sacrifices became easier. I also feel my career as an artist isn't really a sacrifice as a whole. It's also a reward too. I suppose I could have had a career making a lot more money for example, but to me the reward is the accomplishment of being at the level of artist I am today. Being an artist is who I am. Having that kind of sense of self is not easy to come by I think and that's the real reward.
What kind of experience do you want the viewer to walk away with?
Sometime ago I had my work hanging up at a local studio tour. A woman walked in and invited me to talk about one of my new paintings she liked on the wall. The painting was of sunlight shining through the trees and as she talked about how she felt looking at the painting her eyes filled up with tears. After she excused herself and gained composure she explained "I feel that sunlight through the painting. I feel it right here" as she pointed to her heart. I would say if I ever wanted someone to feel anything from my paintings... that was it.
“I'm thinking of a quote from a movie with Matt Damon I once saw. It goes something like ‘you can’t run from who you are. If you do, eventually it will always come back to haunt you.’ I think being an artist is like that.” – James Gummerson
"City Garden #11" Acrylic on Canvas 30" x 40"