If it’s in, on or near the water, there’s a good chance James R. Williamson has painted it. From sailing vessels to sea birds—and everything in between—the celebrated watercolor artist has a keen eye for all things nautical. If you’re interested in finding out his seafaring secrets, Williamson will be starting up an “Introduction to Watercolor” class this week at the Pacific Marine Gallery, where he’s been teaching for 12 years. Read on to find out more.
Cascadia Weekly: What’s cool about the Pacific Marine Gallery?
James Williamson: Pacific Marine Gallery has a friendly, casual and relaxed atmosphere. It’s located within Pacific Marine Exchange; dedicated to those who love the water and where the boater can find everything nautical for their vessel.
CW: Can people purchase your work there?
JW: Yes. Pacific Marine Gallery has a selection of watercolor originals, remarqued editions (editions with original drawings in the margin), and limited-edition prints framed and unframed. Artwork subjects include tall ships, fishing vessels, lighthouses, sailboats, scenes of islands and shores, wildlife, plus tugboats, industrial and military subjects.
CW: What can people who are taking your watercolor class at the gallery expect to get out of it?
JW: Students can expect to receive instruction from a working and experienced artist/illustrator. Classes are free of stress and from the start we try to vanquish the “demon of perfection.” Yes, you can make mistakes. All you need to know is that you are motivated to learn.
CW: What draws you to maritime subjects?
JW: I enjoy the diverse aspects of the maritime environment. The natural beauty of the coast, inland waterways, islands, beaches, coastal mountain views, plus wildlife. I recognize the value and significance of harbor and boating activity, industrial and military subjects including tugboats, fishing vessels, sailboats, and tall ships—all existing in a fragile balance with the natural environment.
CW: Why watercolors?
JW: The medium is alarmingly transparent and takes practice to understand the various techniques. An artist able to master it will produce results that have a luminous quality and can produce effects that are little short of magic.
CW: When did you first realize you had artistic talents?
JW: In grade school, when teachers would call on me to create a drawing or art that they “couldn’t do.” I began taking specialized classes in drawing and illustration, which continued through high school. I have utilized this natural visual art ability throughout my life.
CW: What inspires you?
JW: I can be inspired by just about anything. Positive reaction to my work generates creative energy. I also can get inspired by reading, simply looking at a subject or listening to a description of an event or experience. I have spent time on the water researching fishing vessels, tugboats and military vessels and as a crewmember on a sailboat.
CW: What’s your painting routine?
JW: As a commercial illustrator my painting routine involves researching a subject—including taking photographs, written documentation and/or experiencing the scene or theme. The actual “getting everything together to create a painting” is also a part of the routine.
CW: How do you get into the mood to paint?
JW: Painting or creating is a state of mind. Getting into this state of mind takes discipline. First, I have to try to remove myself from the daily racket. Second, I need to focus on the subject or theme and go about the task of completing it. I go in and out of this creative state of mind. The catalyst is the motivation to get there in the first place.
CW: What do you love about being an artist?
JW: I love the realization that in some way I can create enjoyment and meaning for viewers and collectors. I also enjoy the act of doing, formulating an idea and the accomplishment of creating.
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