This is the beautiful work of Terrell James.

Terrell James, Shelf, 2008 Oil on canvas 78 x 112 inches

Her work has been a kind of pivotal discovery for me.

I had been in a very long process of trying to decide what kind of art I wanted to be making. Small works that sell easily?  Large works that never sell?  And more importantly, abstract? Representational? For whom do I paint?

These are questions I have asked and answered before.

I will ask and answer them again.

They are long questions, and over time, their answers change.

Celeste, 2004 Oil on canvas 60 x 60 inches

In the middle of grappling with these questions I had the great privilege to visit a show in Wilmington exhibiting James’ work. Having never heard of her before, I was taken aback, literally stopped in my tracks, as these gorgeous paintings greeted me.

Just so you know, these works are large, layered and complex.  They envelope you. Pictures of them do them no more justice than a picture of a giant waterfall. You can kind of get an idea, but the sheer weight of the experience is lost on film. Some things need to be lived.

Theater, 2010 Oil on canvas Three canvases. Each: 60 x 40 inches

This experience with the work taught me a few things.

The first is that I am no “one” kind of artist. I dabble a great deal in different mediums and techniques. The kind of art I make fluctuates greatly. However, the kind of art that deeply moves me is often very abstract. For some people art needs to connect to something concrete. I am learning that for me, at least some of the time, the less specific the work is, the more I glean from it. There is greater space for me to explore when the meaning is not fixed. Its ambiguity calls to me.

So for now, I am venturing once again into making abstract works. I enter it tremulously, trying to not copy others, and especially not my old work. But the feeling of sitting beneath these huge paintings, and letting their power wash over me, is enough to keep me at that canvas, bravely making marks.

Thank you Ms. James. I owe you one.

*Images credit of

This entry was posted in Inspiration, Process and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Inspiration

  1. Why, thank you. Send me your email and I can send you some images.

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