Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jim Morgan

“Spider Island”  © Jim Morgan

Name: Jim Morgan
Bio: Jim Morgan is a North Carolina-based artist originally from New Jersey. Jim attended The Pratt Institute, New York,  where he studied art and design. During those years he was influenced by artists like Milton Avery, Wolf Kahn, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. After college he moved back to New Jersey and began sketching and photographing some landscapes with the intention of producing some oil paintings. He picked up some pastels to do some color studies and the rest is history. He never did start the oil paintings. Jim’s paintings are represented in many private collections, and also in AIG, New York, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Columbia University, New York.
Medium: Pastel. Jim states: “As far as pastels go I love Unison and Terry Ludwig and think are the finest product out there. That being said, I have a substantial quantity of nearly every pastel brand out there on the market and love them all for their own special qualities...much like ones children. Paper: Fabriano papers are great, I like the Tiziano product the best. Arches printmaking paper is also a favorite as is Strathmore Dry Media paper. Also, I LOVE craft paper, grocery bags or that stuff they wrap parcels in, just use a very soft pastel and try to get it right the first time because that stuff is unforgiving and you really can't work it too much. Aside from brown craft paper I never use colored paper.”
Subjects: Landscape; Botanical; Architectural
Style: Expressionist, semi-abstract, to calligraphic. The botanicals seem to lie somewhere between stained glass and Japanese calligraphy, with a nod toward fractal geometry. The landscapes are deceptively simple – note that Morgan’s cites among his influences Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Milton Avery and Wolf Kahn. Also Terry Winters, Georges Seurat (particularly his charcoal drawings), and Degas.
Techniques: “The landscapes are an ever-evolving exercise in composition and making concise marks on paper. I try to work as much as possible on location, where I work out quick gestural shapes and make color notes. I re-work these sketches over and over, larger and smaller until things sort of come together. Some I work on for 20 minutes and some for several weeks. No piece is ever finished, the only pieces I might consider finished are those that I have sold, and only because they are no longer in my possession and therefore cannot be reworked, tweaked or thrown away.” 
“For the landscapes, I start in charcoal and then begin building layers, sometimes I rub the whole sheet with a bright pink or orange just to give it something other than white to work on. I also start with a watercolor wash sometimes...when i work on heavier sheets I will use tempera paint as an undercoat and then work the pastel over that. Far too oven I overwork the paper, get frustrated and end up throwing it all away and starting over. My technique is unreliable, impulsive, and needs some refinement.”
“The Botanicals are perhaps my favorite pieces. They are loosely inspired by Eucalyptus and Ginko cuttings, other than that, I am at a loss to describe the process. I try to keep any reference at a distance when working on these and just let things happen. Like said I really like these and enjoy working on them.”
“The Others, most of these are inspired by small outcast commercial buildings that line the heavily traveled routes in central New Jersey. Most of these structures have been replaced by large shopping centers, big box stores and online commerce, and now lay vacant or are leased by dubious enterprises. Originally I wanted to document these buildings in photography, but quickly realized I was no photographer. I started sketching these and later re-worked them as small pastel compositions on pieces of craft paper and used brown grocery bags.”
Navigation: Simple, streamlined,  uncluttered. The main menu always available..
Gallery: The Landscapes; The Botanicals; The Others.
Image View: Thumbnails and large image are on the same page; direct download is not possible. Information is provided on originals.  Spider Island is 10 x 13 ins
Demo/Blog: No


  1. Thanks for showing me Jim Morgan's work.

  2. I was glad to have found him Casey; he is a breath of fresh air in his approach - I found the Rothko in him straight away, but there is a restrained elegance in his abstractions that I rarely see elsewhere.