58 Fore Street, Tregony, Truro Cornwall TR2 5RW. Telephone 01872 530505
James Bland

James Bland/Sleevenotes

James Bland
James Bland is a figurative artist who enjoys the surprises and the surrender of control that oil painting uniquely offers. Memory, folklore and dreams are the main subjects of his work and his paintings offer tantalising glimpses of narratives alongside the rigorously-observed depictions of light and form.

James paints in oils but first develops his ideas in sketchbooks before setting up his compositions in the studio with models and homemade props. As they progress, his paintings move away from being purely from direct observation towards memory and imagination, which is where the full range of influence is felt, from traditional Asian art to mediaeval manuscripts to children’s drawings. He revises his paintings substantially, giving them latitude to change and depart from the original motif - a method inspired by Giorgione and Georges Braque. Objects, locations and figures might painted out or in, canvases re-stretched and colour schemes completely altered. The alchemy of this unpredictable process is what gives each painting its unique character and excitement.

"I was lucky to be able to paint and draw people from life on my degree course. My tutors were very old-school. They would often be found sneaking around the back of the life room smoking roll-ups or saying gnomic things like ‘there’s “pain” in “painting”’. Their hero was Euan Uglow, and it was great to be introduced to his work, although it was also necessary to get out from under this influence. Dave Shutt, Dave Woodcock, Greg Ward and John Long were the painting tutors, with Bob Stone my MA supervisor. The best advice may have been to focus hard on whatever’s nearest your eye because, as I was told, ‘anyone can paint a beautiful middle-distance.’ I’m not sure that’s true, but I’ve given a lot of thought to the tactile side of painting ever since".
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