Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy Independence Day

Washington Crossing the Emanuel Leutze – 1851, oil on canvas, 149 x 255 in

One of the most recognizable images in the history of American art. The subject is from one of the turning points in the American Revolutionary War. It commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on the night of 25-26 December 1776.

The Colonial cause appeared exceptionally bleak as the year 1776 came to a close. In a military move that navigated the fine line between brilliance and desperation, George Washington led the Colonial army across the Delaware River shortly after nightfall on 25 December in order to attack the Hessian encampment outside Trenton, New Jersey. Washington and his army achieved an unprecedented tactical surprise and delivered a much-needed military and moral victory.

Happy 4th of July!

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thanks for Listening 2020

In what has been a remarkable and difficult year for us all. 

I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for visiting the website and the Studio Blog. 

Your support and interest in my work is greatly appreciated.

I hope you had a great Christmas and that 2021 brings all the good things that you wish for.


Happy New Year!

Have a spectacular 2021.

And to my loving wife, Linda

These have been the best years of my life.

Happy Tenth Year Anniversary.

Your devoted husband.

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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 
Artist John Trumbull, American, 1756–1843
Oil on canvas, 12 ft x 18 ft, 1818

This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The document stated the principles for which the Revolutionary War was being fought and which remain fundamental to the nation. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted, it was later signed on August 2, 1776

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 
                                                         -Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

Happy 4th of July

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020


I had not done a full underpainting in a while; I forget how magical this process can be. Glazing color over the grisaille creates an illusion of depth that is hard to achieve in any other technique. Progress shots, drawing, umber wipe -out, grisaille, color pass.

Grisaille – (griz-eye’) fr.- grey an underpainting done entirely in monochrome shades of gray.

Craftsman, oil on linen panel, 11 x 14 in, Jim Serrett

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Art in the Age of Quarantine - Spring of COVID 19

Hello friends, as I write my Spring newsletter, I cannot help but think to myself is this essential? It just seems like there are much more pressing events happening in the world today. That talking about art; well, may not be that important in this Spring of Covid 19. This crisis is unprecedented, I cannot think of anything that compares to it in my lifetime.

How dramatic the changes to daily life are for most people, just think of the battery of new (detaching) phrases that have been added to our vocabulary, social-distancing, quarantine, flatten the curve, essential and non-essential workers. The media is flooded with advice, news and commentary. My wife and son both are working, one as an essential worker and the other remotely, it has certainly tested their limits and their strengths. How can I not help but feel some uncertainty, anxiety and concern? I try to not let it dominate my mind. No wonder finding personal balance during the shutdown is a challenge for each of us.

Honestly, as far as work, I have not been directly impacted much by the pandemic. But I completely recognize how unfair this coronavirus has been to so many. Those daily death tolls are stark reminder that there is a real difference between tragedy and inconvenience.

For me, Art has always been that place to escape to. I have been self-employed most of my life as an artist and spent thousands of solitary hours in the studio. Even back when I was doing advertising art, we had a saying, “no news was good news” meaning when a project was delivered if you did not get a call on it from the client you just assumed that they were happy and you moved on to your next project.  I would go days buried in my work without speaking much. As it turns out I’ve all been self-quarantining for years!

And these days as a fine artist working on the art I want to create, I probably am even more isolated, but that is quite ok with me. We all need interaction with others, but the truth is that art is not a group activity.  Nor a spectator sport or is it created by committee as some current trends want to imply.  Meaningful art is created through the internal reactions of an artist to the world.

The catch is that what gives art meaning…is its capacity to connect with other people.  

I see painting as a very contemplative experience, but it is also the investigation of the world around me. The thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this time of isolation.

So that big word “Art” cannot exist in a vacuum.  Art illustrates the human experience—the wonder of it, the bewilderment of it, the whimsy of it, and yes even the tragedy of it. We would not be who WE are (or connected so deeply) without the essential existence of art.

It's nice to be able to share some positive news with you. My painting Japanese Teapot was accepted into the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) 2020 Best of America Small Painting National Juried Exhibition.

-Best of America Small Works exhibition hosted by the McBride Gallery, 215 Main Street in Annapolis, MD 21401. For those that like to know the numbers, 150 paintings were selected from 1096 entries.”

The show has been extended until June 7, 2020

At last count, 15 paintings have sold from the 2020 Best of America Small Works Exhibition. With so many galleries, exhibitions and events being forced to close or cancel due to COVID-19. I want to thank Cynthia at the McBride Gallery who has been working diligently at promoting the exhibition online and extending the physical exhibition, so thankful for her efforts. 

To view the paintings in this exhibition please visit the gallery's website,
or for more information on NOAPS, and a video tour of the show check out.
Show extended through June 7, 2020 at the McBride Gallery, Annapolis, MD

As always, I have several new paintings going in the studio. For frequent updates and works in progress please check out my Instagram or Website. 

Stay safe, stay well, remain vigilant and be kind to each other. 
Jim Serrett

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

"Is not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

I seem to paint a lot of bottles. A friend recently asked me why? I see a still life as a visual meditation, and glass can be a mental challenge in that you must decide what is effective and what is not in explaining the image.  It is walking an edge of what is optical information (that what we see) and conceptual information (that what we know) to express form and imagery. 

The simpler explanation is that old glass bottles are cool.

Marbles with Bottles, oil on panel, 10 x 8 inches, Jim Serrett

"Is not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -- Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Marbles with Bottles - WIP

Current work in progress. Progress shots, drawing, first pass, color mixing, final pass.

Marbles and Glass, contour drawing

First Pass.

Palette, color mixtures.

"Is not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -- Henry David Thoreau

Final pass.

Marbles with Bottles, wip, oil on panel, 10 x 8 inches, Jim Serrett

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Thanks for Listening 2019 - Happy New Decade!

At this time of year my thoughts are with family and friends and those loved ones lost. They will always be close to our hearts. Thanks to all of you for your support.

For those who purchased work, you may never truly understand what your support means. Your patronage represents more than a monetary or financial reward, it is encouragement and artistic freedom.

Again, my sincerest gratitude.
Thanks for Listening

Happy Holidays and have a great New Years. Jim

For my loving wife, I love you more than you’ll ever know. 
How lucky a man I am, for I married my best friend and the love of my life.
I cherish every day I get to spend with you. You are amazing.

Happy Anniversary.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Holidays

Happy ️ Holidays
Thank you for being part of my creative world.

Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951)
The Toymaker, oil on canvas 24 x 20 in. Painted in 1920.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

The Plumb Line and String of Thought

I spend a great deal of time sorting objects for a still life, arranging them and looking at the set up. I will contemplate the surfaces, shapes, reflections, positive-negative spaces and assemble the composition. Then looking at the overall design and playing around with it, add and subtract things until I get something that “feels’ right. All the while looking through a view finder for a sense of how it will look to scale on canvas. I try not to rush this part of the painting process, knowing that I am going to make a commitment of time and energy. I want it be something worth the effort and not have one of those last hour, “good grief what was I thinking" moments.

Now that I have a design I like. I need to transfer the image to paper or canvas. In almost every painting or drawing setup of mine you will find a plumb line. A very simple but most useful tool for artists.

Webster’s definition of plumb line is.
1 : a line (as of cord) that has at one end a weight (such as a plumb bob) and is used especially to determine verticality   

OK, so it’s a cord or string with a weight on it. 

More important is that it is a drawing tool, a vertical line from which you can measure any point. Plotting out the dimension and placement of objects and the alignment of elements.

Plotting the drawing and blocking out.

To scale the drawing, you need a measuring device, something you can move your thumb up and down and make visual measurements from quickly, for comparison. You can use a piece of charcoal or a brush handle works. I like chop sticks as they have a uniform thickness up to the point. 

After setting up the still life and establishing a viewing point (the spot you will use to make all your observation from), establish a vertical axis through the composition. Use a plumb line or scale edge held at arm’s length. I place the subject and artwork where I can see both in one glance and flash my eyes back and forth between the two and make comparative measurements. Always using my reference of the plumb line from my vantage point.

Hang your plumb line so that it visually kisses or intersects edges. In the Moka pot I have the plumb line falling down the straight edge of the upper part of the pot. I draw that line on my paper for the first placement. Then using a pencil at arm’s length, I establish a unit of measurement. I measure widths and heights from this virtual line. How tall the pot, how wide, how far over is the garlic clove.

Once you establish the size of one part, compare it to another and build on those relationships, establishing one measurement that you compare the next measurement to and so on, growing a set of ratios. As you develop the drawing you will check your dimensions often. I like to refer to this as plotting out the drawing. Develop a set of points you can use as constant reference, after plotting all your reference points block out the basic shapes with simple straight lines. Keeping it as uncomplicated as possible, keeping the marks simple makes it easier to rearrange them until you have their placement correct.

My goal is a accurate drawing and solid foundation for my painting.

This is mainly a Comparative Measurement process based on my adapted version of the “Sight-Size Method”, there many links and articles about this topic online and a wealth of information at Darren Rousar’s website.

I absolutely recommend spending some time there.

The sight-size method is great tool for artist to understand and adapt to their process. I think sometimes it gets a bad rap because of its academic pedigree or it being too mechanical. But, every representational artist: no matter how loose they paint, plot the positioning of the elements in their picture plane with some type of mark or mass of paint. This process when applied to a direct method of painting can be very fluid and energetic.

I want approaches which allow me to understand the elements required to represent three-dimensional space in painting. Good drawing skills are the first element of that. To help achieve that goal make use of any drawing aids that will train your eyes and hand to draw proficiently. As you progress most of those tools will become second nature. I have always liked the idea that to master a skill you must own it.

String of Thought

My line of thought is to get the main idea down, blocked in or sketched out as quickly and accurately as possible. I want to see the main impression, or what is the “big” picture?

From there the general approach is to continue bearing down on the elements in the painting, making smaller adjustments, dialing in on the image I want to see. Thinking big to small, simple to complex, general to specific. Until I reach the illusion of realism I want to imply.

This can seem like a slow process to some, but when done consistently you will find it very effective and quick. But the point of the process is not speed but slowing down and engaging with the image. Painting is both time consuming and time slowing.

If you are not going to get a thrill, how can you give someone else one? 
You must feel the beauty of the thing before you start.   ---- Charles Hawthorne 

I paint what captures my eye, often those small things overlooked. The reflection in a glass, the atmosphere around an object, the ying-yang of negatives-positive spaces, the play of light and shadow. Those qualities that resonate with me in art are skill, beauty, poetic feelings and simple truths. These are the qualities that transcend mere representation and I aspire to.

I certainly enjoy the process of painting, building layers of glazes and color – modeling form. It is a very sensual medium. But it does go beyond the technical and observational skills, craftsmanship is just the conduit for authentic self-expression. If art is hard work, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know and looking for that poetry in your art.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

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