Derek James

is creating artwork and writing

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The French artist, Jean-François Millet wrote:

“It is not so much the subjects one depicts that create beauty; rather it is the need one has felt to represent them.”

There is a direct correlation in this statement that speaks to the conflict artist often are forced to choose between, depicting subjects deemed “beautiful” by societal norms, or that which speaks beauty to the artist. Like most, I believe commerce often has a positive role in robust economies, but the arts and culture are uniquely positioned to represent society’s identity and values, yet is poorly served in this arena. I’ve illustrated books and magazines for many years as a means of support and can appreciate the longstanding value of this art form. Freelancing has enabled me to convert my barn into a work space, and pay very expensive healthcare for my family, but has also levied a cost and existential sacrifice carving out time to create my own work; “the need…to represent” my own definition of ‘beauty’.

I think we’re all trying to navigate through the real world meaning of ‘patronage’, but the mechanisms in place to support the arts and culture is nearly non-existent. First tier artists and art institutions have always been met with enthusiastic support from wealthy benefactors, but this well-spring quickly evaporates before filtering down to the second and third tiers. I am hopeful that artist like (and unlike) myself can find both public and monetary support through this medium, and give life to a vibrant and diverse culture.

A brief note on who I am and my work:

I’ve lived in and around the New York Metropolitan area (Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey), and now reside and work in New York’s Hudson Valley.

I received a BFA from Pratt, did an independent study in southern France, and studied at the Art Students League, NYC.

I shared a studio in Brooklyn with artist, Steven Assael, exhibiting with him and other noted representationalist, i.e., Odd Nerdrum, Harvey Dinnerstein, Burt Silverman.

I’ve been represented by galleries in San Francisco, NYC, and Washington DC., and exhibited across the country.

Illustrated hundreds of books and Magazine articles for noted authors such as Chaim Potok (Davita’s Harp), Theodore Sturgeon, and Nora Roberts.

I wish to expand more into my writing, and hope this platform can accommodate an outlet where I can gain from diverse and constructive feedback in a public arena.

I write as I paint, in succinct, and sometimes curt vignettes, with word choices and combinations that at times carry a bit of flourish, but hopefully, depth and truth as well 
Where required, I add the structural template of meter and rhyme, but as with painting,  'imagery', tied into obscure metaphors, is what best suits my writing style. 

I believe that my connection to our culture's very eclectic dialogue, is predicated on being well versed in literary foundations that precedes today's writing.  Harold Bloom's books 'The Western Canon' and 'Genius', are wonderful sources of literary criticism on poets such as Wallace Stevens, William C Williams, Elisabeth Bishop, Percy Bysshe Shelly and artist/poets William Blake and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Contemporary poets I'm drawn to include Derek Walcott (whose fragmented watercolors speaks to the colors of his Caribbean Islands), and Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser (the former for his masterful metaphors, and the latter for his footing in time and space).  Among the 'ancients' there are many, such as the metaphysical poet John Donne, and 'Lake District' poets Coleridge, and Wordsworth.

Thank you for your interest.


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