Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Varied Approach: James Gaar

Author: Victoria Saccomagno (OVAC Intern)
Jim Gaar, Talhook, Acrylic on canvas, 30x40”
Tulsa artist Jim Gaar likes to work on two different sides of the artistic spectrums; realism and abstraction. With over 50 years of experience and incredible talent in both areas, I thought it appropriate to ask about his preferences and background that led him to the abstract piece “Tailhook” accepted into the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition.

Q: I have seen a lot of Abstract Expressionist pieces you’ve done recently, but I also know that you work with Photorealism as well. Can you explain how you choose which approach you use for each project?
JG: First, let me state that my two favorite artists are Andrew Wyeth and Franz Kline, so you can see immediately that I am drawn to opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. Also, after having spent weeks painting with a number 2 or number 1 brush on a photo-realistic painting, it is really therapeutic to sling and push paint with a 4 inch house-painting brush.

Q: What is the technical process for your work? Because you have a background in art education, is there a method that you find it important to stick with?
JG: Since I was a graphic designer for 30 years, I think that had more influence over how I approach my art, painting, and Photorealism in particular. I also enjoy taking my own photos for my representational paintings. Normally, I can create an edited outline drawings based on the photo and then transfer it to the panel or canvas. Another method I use is to enlarge a drawing by using the grid system to scale-up large paintings.

Q: Is there something specific that inspires your more abstract work? There seems to be a landscape-appeal in the more angular abstract pieces of yours that I have seen, is that the desired affect?
JG: To me at least, abstract art offers the purest form of painting without having to refer to subject matter. Color, line, composition, and texture can all be pushed to the extreme  in order to serve the final result. In the past my color palette has leaned toward earth-tones, and I think that often helped to evoke the feeling of landscape.

Q: In “Tailhook” your color-scheme seems ‘outdoorsy’; which caters to your title, but also contrasts with the not-so-organic angles also in the composition. I could be completely off-base here, but was there that desire of juxtaposition in your creation of the piece? How would you hope that a viewer would understand “Tailhook”?
JG: In my recent paintings I have been interested in trying to control a new color palette and vigorous brushwork by introducing a framework of lines to help control or subdue the new, for me, extravagant color. In a sense I am applying the geometric lines of Piet Mondrian and superimposing them onto a Richard Diebenkorn-like painting in an attempt to find a balance between color and line. In this instance, “Tailhook” has aeronautical implications, and this piece tends to evoke in me a feeling of looking down at a verdant landscape from the air. 

The Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition opens December 16, 1-5 pm at the new Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council’s Hardesty Arts Center. See for more information. 

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