James Glen, Summer’s Night/Saskatchewan

James Glen, Summer’s Night/Saskatchewan, casein on canvas board, 82 x 162 cm, $2400

1. Tell us about the artwork you have in the VAM 2011 Juried Show.

It’s all about getting information, and redesigning. So I begin with a shot of the sky and implement some changes. For example, I drop the horizon, to emphasize the vastness of the sky. The skies in the Canadian prairies… it’s like nowhere else in the world.

Then I add the humanity by putting in the houses. The houses aren’t to take over the painting, but just to add that touch of humanity into it.

For this piece, I focus a lot on painting in abstract shapes – repetition of shapes and abstract patterns of colour. I’ve been very influenced by Alan C. Collier, one of my mentors. When I paint, I work with shapes, and surface tension of brush strokes on canvas.

2. How and when did you first become interested in creating art?

I grew up in Scotland, where I won art prizes in high school, and then got a job in a studio in Glasgow. Franklin Arbuckle once told me, “Scotland has produced many great writers, like Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle, but you can be one of its first great painters. You paint something, and see if it sticks.”

I had to serve in the army for a while and stopped working on my art. But then I immigrated to Canada, and one day, I wandered into the Royal Ontario Museum and saw students of the Interior College of Art drawing for their Museum Studies program. I thought, “I can do that,” and studied at the Interior College of Art from 1963-1968 where I majored in Illustration and won a couple of scholarships. I worked in advertising for a while, but twenty-odd years ago, started painting again.

3. What do you think of the art scene in Mississauga? Where do you see it heading in the next ten years?

There will always be traditional art, abstract art and everything in between. It’s up to the individual, how he sees things. All kinds of art are good – abstract, super realism, etc.

I’m personally caught in realism. That’s my approach, but it’s not the be all and end all.

Robert Peak once said something that stuck to me forever: “Art can be loose, or it can be very tight, as long as it flies.”

4. What advice would you give young people who want to become artists?

Learn how to draw. Drawing will never be out of date.

Learn from the masters.

There’s not an abstract artist who cannot sit down and make a realistic self-portrait. Even Picasso. It’s all about the basics.

Drawing is so important. I don’t even sketch anymore. I just draw with a brush. When you get older, you’re not scared anymore, you’re confident, and can draw with big brushes. When you’re young, you’re still a bit more timid, and perhaps use a smaller brush.

5. What do you have lined up after the VAM Juried Show? For people interested in finding more of your artwork, do you have a website, blog, Twitter account or gallery?

You can see more of my work at the River Coyote Gallery in downtown Port Credit. http://www.rivercoyote.ca/JamesGlen.htm

See James Glen’s Summer’s Night/Saskatchewan at the Art Gallery of Mississauga in the VAM 33rd Annual Juried Show until February 26th.

Voting for People’s Choice Award ongoing until February 26th. Ballots available at Gallery reception.

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