Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth of July Inspiration: Childe Hassam

"The Avenue in the Rain," by the American painter Childe Hassam. (1859–1935)
oil on canvas, 42 in. x 22.25 in.  1917, Courtesy of The White House Collection.

The Impressionist work depicts Fifth Avenue in New York City in the rain, decorated with US flags.
It is hard to think of the 4th without thinking of a Hassan painting.

To learn more about Childe Hassam click this link.

Happy 4th of July!

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Upcoming Exhibitions - See My Work

See my work at OA Gallery, “SKY'S THE LIMIT!”
St. Louis' Premier Exhibition of the Boundless Landscape
June 2, 2017-July 29, 2017

I also have some work in a few local shows, I thought I would share.


Event Dates: 5/2/2017 - 6/2/2017
Location: PAPA Gallery
124 Broadway
Paducah, Kentucky 42001
United States


Event Dates: 5/13/2017 - 5/29/2017
Location: Herrinfesta Italiana Art Gallery
3 South Park Avenue
Herrin, Illinois 62948
United States


Event Dates: 5/7/2017 - 6/1/2017
Reception: 5/20/2017 
Location: Hartley Gallery
100 S. Park Avenue
Herrin, Illinois 62948
United States

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Long View

This has been a busy spring, lots of art activities going on, exhibitions and shows in several local communities which I am participating in. So it’s been a lot of framing and organizing of work, between that and the turbulent weather we are having here, there has not been much brush time.

Did get this little study done, I like these long views across the plowed fields, very typical Southern Illinois scenery this time of year. It is also a pretty good metaphor for me to keep in mind, when placing your work out there to exhibit you need to see the long view. Like everybody else I get impatient about the goals I want to achieve, I tell myself my skills need to be at this level, my sales at that and so on and on. The reality is that with all of this stuff, - the journey to success is not a sprint, but a marathon.           
To find a good pace and take the long view.

The Long View, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, © Jim Serrett Studio

“It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.”

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quiet Evening - Kinkaid Lake

This is one of those paintings that has been percolating for a while, I have done a couple oil studies and sketches at this location. And even though I have some good references I think the source of this painting or concept has been painted in my head several times. I think anyone that visits this spot and stands where I worked, would recognize the place from the painting. However, this piece is more of a memory painting of several experiences of this scene during the fall. I wanted to paint that crisp air of early fall, the mood of the transitional season and hopefully the essence of the land.

 Quiet Evening, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, © jim_serrett 

There are a lot of videos online about Kinkaid Lake, it's a big sport fishing destination. I found this interesting drone footage video filmed at Kinkaid Lake Paul Ice boat ramps from Eric Ripley. His drone hovers right over my painting spot and gives a great birds eye view of why this lake is so popular.

Eric Ripley - YouTube Channel

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Artist and His Muse - Dutch Ridge, Cedar Lake

I paint what I see as I find it in nature, mostly. I never paint it exactly, I pick and choose elements I like, move a tree here or there, add more interest to the clouds. Do some rearranging and compose some harmony out of all the chaos to make visual sense to me.

What I always strive to do is stay true to the original idea, in it is the source of inspiration.

Without inspiration you are just making marks. No matter what embellishments I may add or take away in a painting, they must support the original concept. What is the painting about, is it the sky? If that is the inspiration, then everything supports that idea. When you know what to emphasize in a scene you understand what elements to manipulate to better communicate the feelings you have about a particular place or time. When its about the mood or feeling of a place then your choices should speak to that connection. That relation is certainly the hardest concept to focus on and express in a painting.

Dutch Ridge, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, ©Jim Serrett

This becomes the artist-muse relationship, that goal to capture something illusive, intuitive, private, visceral or complex. It becomes a creative force of its own having the power of moving the intellect or emotions.

I am not certain how many sketches and paintings from Cedar Lake I have done; I just know I am not finished.

“I'm not in control of my muse. My muse does all the work.” Ray Bradbury

Muse; noun: Muse; plural noun: Muses; noun: muse; plural noun: muses
1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
2. a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

inspiration, creative influence, stimulusformal afflatus "the poet's muse"

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Even in Front of Nature One Must Compose.

Nearly all of my work begins with some type of preliminary sketch, either a thumbnail drawing in a sketchbook or oil study in my Pochade Box. Lately I have been spending a great deal of time sketching, gathering information outdoors and drawing from my imagination. Creating small rough abstract sketches to work out composition and design elements. 

Mainly I am using pen and ink with watercolor. I like the ink because you don’t fiddle with it as much as say a pencil sketch, you just have to lay it down with some speed and confidence. It is very permanent mark making and you simply/humbly live with what you put down and move along. Over that I wash in some color, do some crosshatching and try to capture the value and mass pattern. I call them my scribbles; and that is what they are, quick notations of design ideas based on nature.

They are exercises in capturing what I see in front of me from direct observation (the Art of Seeing) but also it is about the simple pleasure of drawing.

I look for a strong arrangement of dark and light patterns, the Japanese use the word Notan which means the "dark-light" harmony.  But a notan is also as much about shape/form, positive/negative, figure/ground relationships. It is why it is such a strong abstract design tool. I like to think of it as being the ying-yang of composition. Ever walk into a gallery full of art and be instantly attracted to a particular piece, drawn to it from across the room? Our eyes are drawn to the strong arrangements of shapes and patterns. As you learn to use this design tool you will recognize it in paintings and drawings of master artists.

Slow down mentally and take a long look at your subject, carefully choose the center of interest or theme of the piece, what it is about, what has drawn you to this motif and design outwards from that point. Simplify and edit down the elements by making them subordinate to that central idea. That is the key to good composition.

It is fun working out compositions and concepts, playing with the elements and ideas based on the anatomy of the landscape. Let them evolve and "brainstorm" many studies, before you know it you will have sketchbooks full of Composition Thumbnails which are a library of knowledge and imagination to work from.

“Even in front of nature one must compose.” ~ Edgar Degas

Color Studies:
Last Light, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in, Jim Serrett

Over the Horizon, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in, Jim Serrett

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings


Notan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thanks for Listening 2016

How very grateful I am for you.

To my dear friends, colleagues, collectors, bloggers and loved ones who made 2016 such a wonderful year, you will never know how much your support is appreciated.

This Blog has been an amazing thing and has served multiple purposes. It has created a creative community of which I am a part and given me a voice to speak about the art I create. It has allowed me to think deeply about my work, art in general and its importance in the world. It has given me a window into the making of my art and by others, and a wealth of information to share and digest. I admit it has been mostly about me, for I benefit the most. But it would not exist without you.

Thank you. Thank you all for your continuing support.

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”     ---Friedrich Nietzsche

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Jim

For my loving wife Linda, I know that no words can express how grateful I am for you.
I am a lucky man. 
My goal and promise in life to show you every day how much I love you, appreciate you and cherish you.
All my love, and Happy Anniversary!

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Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Studio Paintings - 3 Landscapes

I find trees to be one of the most interesting and complex things to draw and paint, there is just so much variety, from the different species and through the changing seasons they always present a new challenge. I see them as peaceful and contemplative; almost a meditation.

Autumn Shore, oil on panel, 9 x 12 in Jim Serrett

Daytime Moon, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in Jim Serrett

I had read that daytime moon was called a “children’s moon because their eyes were sharp enough to pick it out, where the old folks, with fading vision, could not tell it from the clouds.”

Turns out the prime time for a Daytime Moon is when the Moon gets close to its quarter phases that is the ideal conditions for it to be seen during the day. That is, it is bright enough, far enough away from the Sun to be seen, and rises or sets during daylight hours. When all of these conditions come together, and when the sky is clear enough, the Moon becomes visible during the daytime.

Keep an eye up to the sky, you never know what you might see.

Clouds Over Cedar Lake, oil on panel, 8 x 13 in Jim Serrett

I can spend endless hours watching the ripple rhythm and shadows sail across the lake.

These studio works are created from my Pochade studies, field sketches and my visual memory of an experience. In the studio I hope to let a concept evolve and speak with a little more information and clarity. In these works, I can explore my observations about nature in a more control environment and inject my personal vision and interpretations.

One of the characteristics of oil painting I enjoy most is the ability to create transparent, semi-transparent and opaque layers of paint. Manipulating those qualities can give an image a lot of texture and depth. I like the variation of greens you get with glazes and scumbling effects. You start playing around with the color green differently when you work in thin layers and use it to unify passages. Building up paint in layers of glazes and scumbles provides a arsenal of effects that can create atmosphere in a landscape painting.

I truly enjoy working through an idea with the process of creating thumbnails and roughs. Relying on observations made over time and my memory of the place, it becomes layers of thought, that for me, reach a higher level of understanding and refinement.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Four New Pochades

The sky was filled with colors.
The Light of the Sun, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett

The sky on the way to the concert……
Tangled Up in Blue, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett

At Paul Ice Recreation Area, I did not paint them into this little study but two little ducks were working this cove, diving under water and paddling around. Fun to watch as I painted.
By the Lakeside, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett

Quiet moments on the lake - where the only sounds are lapping water on the shore and the whisper of the wind through the trees.
Whispering Cedar, oil on panel, 5 x7 inches, Jim Serrett

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Impressions from a Lake

We are having an unusual autumn as the weather seems to be unable to make up its mind, cool then hot sunny days, then gray days without much rain. I think we have had them all. The nice thing is that we have been able to get out on the lakes in the kayaks a bit later this season and enjoy some of the color change.

The Fall color is a bit muted and I have read that this can be blamed on the very dry conditions. We still have quite a few pockets of green with a scattering of rust and earth colors. All of which makes for an interesting contrast of colors on the lakes.

This kind of scenery is perfect for my color choices, I mainly use a earth palette which tends to be more about tones and values than saturation. Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine is really about all I used on these pieces. These low key earth palettes will make you look closely at building color relationships and thinking about color saturation.

My pochade studies both on location and in the studio, are essential to my artistic development and process. They are where I gain that all important canvas mileage and experiment with color, composition and ideas. I try not to get too caught up if they are good or presentable, but if they answered those basic questions of how and why. How do I paint this to look like that and why am I painting that? 

My oil sketches start very simply with the big patterns of color and shape, looking for the abstract quality that unifies the scene before me. Nature is a highly accomplished organizer and she can be very complex, often it takes careful study to see her design. This is the challenge that keeps us engaged in the creative process. The exploration of light, form, space, and color interpreted through strokes and dabs of paint which communicate a sensual vision of the world. 

And then there is this thought; leave at least some hours in each day to enjoy the nature around you. Tune out from the daily chaos of life, and observe, draw or paint from nature.

Man-made noise is muzzled by nature's silence...

Kinkaid Lake Reflections
Evening Ripples
Johnson Creek
Lake Clouds
All pochades are 5 x 7 inches oil on panel, © Jim Serrett

More information on my color palette here.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings