Welcome to James’ BIO
Oil painting of James Gilbreath by: Wm. Rawson
James Gilbreath – A
Uniqueness should be important to every artist. Nobody wants to dress, or look, like everyone else, so artwork should be no different. The viewer should be able to look at one artist’s work and tell it apart from another artist’s work. When one looks at James Gilbreath’s unique canvases there is no doubt in anybody’s mind who is the artist.
James’ love of art began in elementary school. When other children were drawing stick figures with a blue sky and yellow sun, James was trying to flesh out their stick bodies in an, albeit, crude style. But in the fourth grade he had a teacher who used the nine-year-old’s manila paper and crayons to show the class how to show action with their drawing. This unknowing mentor did a simple drawing of a man in a suit with his tie flapping and his hat blowing in the air with the fall leaves from the trees. Young James was in awe and knew from that day, that was what he wanted to do.
Every art class he had in the duration of elementary school, then jr. high and high school, he excelled and won ribbons. At the age of 15, James was introduced to oil painting and his love of art grew to a whole new level. His high school art teacher was an English instructor, who knew how to paint, so they gave her an art class. Under her instruction James learned the basics of art; the color wheel, perspective, lines, shapes, space, focal points, etc. It was a good foundation, but she painted realism and that was what she wanted her students to paint. She would stifle the use of imagination by giving out C’s to the students who used theirs in her class.
So James painted realism and he discovered that he was good at painting what he saw. Family members began to inundate him with photographs to paint for them. He began to crank out painting after painting and his work began to show his ennui. He began to realize he wasn’t being creative. “I wasn’t painting ‘paintings.’ I was painting pictures of pictures.”
After he graduated from high school, James stopped painting. He didn’t enjoy it and he didn’t want to do it anymore. If a family member brought him a photo wanting a painting, he would quickly throw together “a tripe, flat piece of useless junk.”
When he was twenty years old he went back to school and took art classes with instructors who actually encouraged the students to use their imaginations. He began to enjoy what he had come to hate. His work was very stiff and his teachers tried very hard to get him to loosen up. When he got into watercolor classes, he began to finally loosen up, but he would eventually fall back into old habits.
Despite that, he began to enjoy the process and knew that painting was what he was always going to do and an artist is what he would always be. His love for this elusive vocation would grow over the years and decades. He always carried a camera and took photo after photo to find that perfect scene to paint. His main topics would be Southwest landscapes, gnarly trees and cityscapes.
Then, after fifty years of painting, James met Willis Davis, a successful abstract artist. That day became an Epiphany. “My love for painting moved to a whole new level. I finally found that elusive thing I had been unknowingly searching for; Abstract Art. Instead of painting a picture of something, I was now painting something on canvas that did not exist before. I was using that imagination that had been stifled so many years before.”
James’ bright colored canvases adorn walls