Saturday, January 20, 2018

Observational Painting

Hello friends You are invited!
To an exhibition of original oil paintings titled “Observational Painting.”
At the Cup'n Cork Coffeehouse and Café, Cape Girardeau’s award-winning hometown coffeehouse, fine food, fine wine, fine art. First Friday in Cape.
Opening Reception on Friday, February 2nd from 5 - 9 pm.
February 2 – March 1, Feb 2018
11 S Spanish St
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Find out about more First Friday Events at,
#cupncork #capearts #capegirardeau #missouri #artshow #artgallery #gallery #artwork #artexhibition #instaart #artofinstagram #instagood #artcollector #artoftheday #jimserrett #Groovelicious #downtowncg #firstfriday

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Green Apple and the Shortest Distance Between Two Points

To create art that connects with other people you must first create art that connects with you. Painting from observation allows me to have a dialogue with my subject, what may be a simple apple to some is an entire conversation to me about form, color, texture, three-dimensional space. How to translate what I see into an illusion of the thing and manifest my visual experience into something that reverberates with another human being. Then placing the image out there in the world to see if another person sees the beauty of the thing I did. I think that only works with sincere and honest observation.

 Green Apple, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches, © jimserrett

 “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Archimedes

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#wip #workinprogress #instaart #jimserrettstudio #oilpainting #originalart

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thanks for Listening 2017

Wow people, here we are again. Another year over..
It has been an amazing year for Linda and I, and we want to express our deepest heartfelt appreciation to our family, galleries, collectors and friends. Thank you for making 2017 such a wonderful year!

May 2018 bring you happiness, good heath, peace and prosperity.

Enjoy the Holidays!

And to my loving wife, Linda there is no words that can express my appreciation and love for you.
Happy Anniversary.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Paint what you see not what you think you see.

On my drawing table I have a small note, an axiom which states,
 “Paint what you see, not what you think you see.”

I'm not sure where I first heard this saying, I just know it has been in my studio for a long time, longer than I remember. I’ve found it scrawled on notes and inside sketchbooks dating all the way back to my early Art School days. It just keeps resurrecting itself.

It's one of those things that is easier said than done. Sounds very simple, until you attempt doing it.

And it is one of those sayings that is hard to explain. An important idea to understand but a concept that is almost a contradiction in terms. Which is probably why it keeps showing up in notes around my studio work space.

As representational artists/painters we are interested in depicting the world around us, however as we attempt to do that we find that paint has its limitation when compared to the real world, that we cannot paint as bright a white or as dark a black as we see them in nature. And that if you describe literally everything you see in a subject in detail verbatim, you will give yourself and the viewer a mental overload. Too much detail can kill a painting, and vise versa, being overly simplistic and too idealized the less realistic.

We are supposed to be more than visual recorders of facts, not simply replicating what you see; but artists, creating a piece of art which portrays the real world in some meaningful way that moves and touches the senses of another human being. So how do you make a realistic representational image that does that? Which is why the saying “Paint what you see, not what you think you see.” sounds like such a contradiction.

With my still-life’s I can do controlled studies like this where I can investigate the subject. The whole idea for me is to slow down and really see what it is that is front of me, to see form, color, space. Not objects, when I see or think objects, all kinds of preconceptions come up, I think the image, some idealized version of the image more than see the thing in front of me. So, I cannot let preconceived ideas get in the way. You must investigate the subject…explore it with the eye of a painter…form, color, edges, light, atmosphere, and how one relates to another. Discover relationships between those elements and look for those nuances that make it unique and interesting, it is one of the hardest things to do,  to let go of what you think you know.

But when you are attempting to paint realism, knowing how to suggest information is more important than knowing the fact. The average person's head has up to 150,000 hair follicles but I would never attempt to paint them, only imply them. A glass bottle is transparent and an apple solid, but I would not paint them the same way, but imitate the differences of their forms. Much of my time is spent figuring out how to convey the character of a thing by texture, shape, color, value, edges that makes a convincing illusion of realism.

It is about creating imagery that reads convincingly to the human eye. So, we will manipulate and alter the imagery responding to the complexity of the subject and to make aesthetic adjustments. The human eye sees the world in shape, color, forms, light, shadow and deciphers that information to represent the natural world. We paint an impression of that information and attempt to set it into a picture plane with an illusion of space and depth. With abstract brush strokes, lost and found edges, and other paint manipulation you suggest and imply “hopefully without getting too gimmicky”, an illusion of the thing in front of you. All the while keeping it simple and true to subject so that it can be considered naturalistic and real. See what I mean easier said than done.

Once you jump that mental hurtle you can really see what’s in front of you, then you can begin to play with the object and express your idea or emotion about the subject.  It becomes a new discovery. And in that discovery, you will open new eyes, those of your viewers and your own.

That sense of wonder, when you move past merely the representation of a thing and transcend it becomes the illusion of nature seen through a poetic eye. It seems that learning to see, is just as much about learning to unsee.

Which just might be another one of those axioms that is hard to explain…

Silver Cup, Egg and Bottle, oil on panel, 10 x 8 inches, 2017© Jim Serrett

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

MANYmini Extravartganza !

This is OA Gallery’s third annual small works show highlighting MINIwork from MANYartist from around the region and across the country.
.. I am very honored to have four pieces in the show.

Don't miss this amazing exhibit!
It will be a two-month long exhibit at OA Gallery, starting November 3rd - January 6, 2018!
And if you are in the area, check out this show.
Going to be a great event!

Opening reception is Friday, November 3,  6-9pm.
The exhibition runs from November 3, 2017 - January 6, 2018

And thank you, Blick Art Materials for your support of the Manymini show

OA Gallery is the premier St. Louis gallery showcasing exceptional, contemporary, representational artwork by over thirty regionally and nationally recognized and  award winning artists.

OA Gallery is located in beautiful downtown Kirkwood, MO directly across the street from the train station.
​101A W Argonne Dr.  Kirkwood, Mo 63122

​Wednesday 12-5
Thursday 12-5
Friday 12-5
Saturday 12-5

OA Gallery Website Link
OA Gallery Facebook Link

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Underpainting Techniques – Demonstration Six - Part II – WIP

First Color Pass: These are the first color layers over the underpaintings. I have attempted to develop each one equally and establish a similar refinement. It is obvious from the beginning the degree of finish or resolution is more observable in the further developed monochromatic underpaintings.

When I speak of “resolution” I am using it to describe the degree of focus, that with each color pass over the image you make small corrections and adjustments, slowly tuning in the image to the level of three-dimensional reality you wish to see in your painting. With this slow dialing in, each pass should be about fine tuning not correcting and selective focus instead of detail. That is key to moving forward towards you’re vision. The artist Sadie Valeri explains this dialing in like this, “that in every layer of the painting you get 50% closer to reality “and in each additional layer fifty percent more so on. Each one growing exponentially (building) on the last until you achieve a high degree of realism.

Form Painting: So, in the First Pass I wish to make the big statements of color, shape and edges over the value study and drawing.  I want to think about color relationships comparing abstract passages of paint by chroma and temperature. To think about form, that each brush stroke exists in three-dimensional space and state where it is in light and where it is in shadow. The concept of light on form or modeling dimension like a sculpture is often referred to as Chiaroscuro – The contrast of light and shade. The act of modeling light and dark is called “Turning Form”. I like that adage because it simply describes the goal of representational painting to create the perception of depth.

My paint consistency varies depending on which underpainting I am working with but basically, over top of the underpainting I am using thinned transparent glazes which I then work into with more opaque paints wet into wet. Building up of transparent, semitransparent, semi-opaque, opaque and impasto layers of paint (glazes, scumbles, velauturas, impasto) that create different optical effects.

Starting top left moving clock wise- Grisaille, Bistre, Ébauche, Imprimatura.

I am not quite ready to lose my drawing yet, plus I need the values to affect the color passages and to build luminosity and depth. In each paint passage I continue comparing hue, value, chroma, edges, and textures.

I think form and atmosphere, not things. Painting the points of contact, reflected light, the hills and valleys as light rakes across the subject I look for delicate passages and subtle shading. I look for the “air” around the subject, (as odd as that sounds) and try to paint the atmosphere.

Hue - is a color’s characteristic, where it lies in the color spectrum, (the color name)
          and which temperature it leans towards, warm or cool.

Value – is the relative degree of grayness, lightness or darkness of a color.

Chroma – is the colors intensity, the degree of brilliance of a color, from intense to dull.

Chiaroscuro, (from Italian: chiaro, “light,” and scuro, “dark”) 1. The contrast of light and shade and the art of distributing these elements in a picture planes. 2. Light and shade as they define three-dimensional objects

Summary: The main purpose of underpainting is to solve the problems of composition, drawing and value so that you can concentrate solely on the application of paint. Using a variety of techniques to realistically create the illusion of depth, form and atmosphere. (The amount of light, depth and atmosphere you can achieve in this manner is almost magical.) Multiple veils of transparent color contrasted by opaque light passages, produces a level of realism that I believe cannot be matched with other approaches. You literally carve out volume with this method.

Which type of underpainting to use, Grisaille, Bistre, Ébauche, or Imprimatura is about knowing the strengths of each and being able to look at an object as say, “Yes this approach will work best to achieve that", kind of knowing which tool to reach for in the tool box. I was going to go into my thoughts on each and compare strengths and weaknesses? But feel it better to not muddy the waters with that and let people come to their own conclusion. Maybe I will touch on it later, but for now I will say there is a wealth of knowledge within these methods to explore and doing so will expose how to get the maximum impact of what the material can do.

As a Realist, it is important to have a comprehensive range of techniques to draw from and expand your artistic vocabulary.

You can find Underpainting Techniques – Demonstration Six - Part I – WIP here.
You can access more Underpainting Demos through the labels in the side bar or use the search box at the top left of the blog.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Underpainting Techniques – Demonstration Six - Part I – WIP

In this demonstration, I will attempt to compare the different methods of underpainting technique used and developed by artist prior to the 20th century. Just walk through any museum and compare the 20th century wing to the 19th and on to 15th century. It becomes obvious that those artists where doing something different, they were using paint differently. They had a vast vocabulary when it came to making marks with paint and with it they could create great illusion of space and form.

Painting in an indirect method, building layers up of transparent, semitransparent, semi-opaque, opaque and impasto layers of paint create different optical effects. The purpose of this is to achieve three-dimensional space, through the refraction of light, what is called “Turning the Form.”

The most important illusions of realism in a painting are Form and Value. And by using the underpainting to divide the image into manageable parts, the drawing, the values and lastly color, they could focus on the actual mechanics of applying paint. They created this amazing tool box of techniques, which liberated them, where they could slowly tune in on the level of realism wanted. Thus allowing these artists to create at a higher level of expression and produce some of the greatest masterpieces in history.

Starting top left moving clock wise- 

Grisaille – (griz-eye’) fr.-  A grey underpainting done entirely in monochrome shades of gray or another neutral color, to produce the illusion of relief sculpture.

Bistre - (the wipe-out method) – An underpainting using warm browns (usually raw umber or burnt umber). A thin coat of umber is painted or rubbed over the canvas and then ‘wiped out’ or lifted using a rag or a bristle brush and a small amount of solvent. Darks are built-up with thicker and leaner layers of umber in a near dry brush approach.

Ébauche – (ay•boash ) fr.  - or first block-in with color or color sketch. This creates the overall general feel and effect of the painting with colors and values.  Leaving a sympathetic underpainting or foundation similar to a watercolor.

Imprimatura is an initial stain of color painted on a ground. It provides a painter with a transparent, toned ground, which will allow light falling onto the painting to reflect through the paint layers. The term itself stems from the Italian and literally means "first paint layer". It's use as an underpainting layer can be dated back to the guilds and workshops during the Middle Ages; however, it came into standard use by painters during the Renaissance, particularly in Italy.

Alla-prima – Italian expression loosely translated “at first try”. Direct painting (wet into wet), a method which is completed in a single session without previous preparation or later layers of paint.

I will be continuing along with the indirect painting technique over these underpaintings, using layering, glazes, scumbles, and velauturas to create a illusion of three dimensional form.

So, I invite you to visit again as the paintings evolve.

You can access more Underpainting Demos through the labels in the side bar or use the search box at the top left of the blog.

A couple of quick Links:
Bistre Method – “wipe out”     
Grisaille Underpainting  

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

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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!

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Honey Bear – WIP – And being an “oil” painter.

Funny how you run into someone doing something different, all of sudden you find all sorts of people doing that same thing. “That’s so weird, I just met someone doing that yesterday!” would be the statement.  Coincidences happen but how often do you met a bee keeper or someone involved in bee keeping. So of course that got me thinking about honey and what it would be like to describe it in paint, also that my wife calls our little kitty Honey Bear might play into it.

The truth is, very little does not get me thinking about painting and all of the ways to interpret the world around me visually. I love image making and working with oils, there is something magical about the medium that is nearly transcendental. I enjoy the process and the craft of working with oils, a medium whose techniques dates back to 15th century. That heritage and methodology resonates with me.

It is not sheer coincidence that oil painting has stuck around for centuries. It is the nature of its diversity, the variance of texture, the thick, thin, transparent, opaque and the beauty of the pigment suspended in oil that just draws me and others to it. And when you can pull all of those abstract passages of color together and get an image, what could be more dynamic then that? I believe that understanding the craft of painting creates greater freedom of expression.
It is no coincidence.

“Craftsmanship is the foundation of self-expression.”   -Juliette Aristides

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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

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