The Interview: James Loveless
An Artist who excels in Western Art
The Interview: James Loveless
(Rachna Singh, Editor, The Wise Owl in Conversation with James Loveless)
The Wise Owl talks to James Loveless, an artist who excels in Western art. James graduated with a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute. Loveless is an active member of The Oil Painters of America, The American Plains Artists and The National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society. He has studied with Martin Grelle, John Buxton and Bruce Greene.
James worked as a graphic designer, package designer and illustrator; some of his clients include FedEx, Ralston Purina, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Six Flags over Mid-America, Alka-Seltzer and Kentucky Fried Chicken. After freelancing as an illustrator, he opened Loveless Galleries where he did custom framing, sold originals, prints and painted portrait commissions. James Loveless was included in the 2022 Oil Painters of America National Exhibition and the 2022 Who's Who in America publication as a fine artist. He was the Second Place Winner in the ‘Fresh Off the Easel’ art competition hosted by Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas, TX (2022), won a Pearce Museum Purchase Award for their permanent collection (2022), was included in the Bosque Art Collection (2022), among others. His work has been collected throughout the United States and abroad.
Thanks James, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to The Wise Owl
RS: For the benefit of the readers, please tell us what attracted you to drawing and painting. Were there any creative mentors who encouraged you to draw and paint?
JL: My mother was instrumental and encouraged me to become an artist. She purchased a correspondence course for me, and it was called Famous Artist School. I don't know if anyone reading this is old enough to remember but, it was an artist course that would ask for assignments that would be sent back to professional teachers. That was my first introduction to formal art training. I always enjoyed working with my hands and when I was in high school, I had a great art teacher named Archie Simmons who was a fantastic portrait artist. He would give me tips and advice on drawing portraits and other assignments. He encouraged me to study more in the field of art and I enjoyed it so much that I enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute where I studied design. So many mentors really encouraged me to pursue a career in art.
RS: Your artworks focus on Old West and characters from the West. Please tell us what made you gravitate towards this genre of painting.
JL: What really encouraged me to do the Old West paintings was the influence of my grandfather. He was a cowboy and he used to go to cowboy competitions all over Arkansas and Oklahoma. I was amazed how his living room was filled with so many awards and ribbons that he had won in competitions. When he became older, he became a horse trainer, and he trained trotting horses. So I was always exposed to horses and cowboys. In addition to that, my maternal grandmother was Native American and that also influenced me to become even more interested in cowboys and Native Americans. My parents were educators, and they would always purchase books for me that focused on Native Americans. I enjoyed drawing their head-dresses and various outfits and I became very interested in that genre of painting.
RS: I was going through the works on your website, and I also watched your Virtual Art Show on YouTube where you have blended Art and music so well. What made you braid these two beautiful but different creative forms?
JL: I met and married my wife, Yvette in four months and we started singing together which has now been over 22 years. Yvette has opened shows for Gladys Knight and the Pips, Cedric the Entertainer, Nancy Wilson, Wynton Marsalis and the songbird, Denise Williams. We would always sing together at various events, plays and church choirs and even sang in a gospel play for about five years called The Isle of Dreams. In 1988, we relocated to Fort Worth, TX where we teamed with our pastor to build a church. Currently, we are members of The Potter's House of Fort Worth.
Before COVID-19 hit in 2020, we had scheduled over 300 performances per year in senior facilities and we had performances booked over the next three years. We also performed and managed a seven-piece band that performed at corporate events, weddings, receptions, and private parties. With that experience, we began to incorporate music along with our art through social media presentations to gain more attention on the internet. Perhaps, we will continue adding music with the art as time goes on.
RS: Most of your works appear to be in oils. Our readers would be eager to know why you use this medium. Do you also experiment with other mediums?
JL: I enjoy working with oil for two reasons. Oil paint has been a traditionally accepted media in fine art. Secondly, there is a lot of flexibility in oils and that's why I still enjoy working with them. Before my introduction to painting, I was doing a lot of pencil and charcoal drawings. Colored pencils became my intermediate medium before using oil paint. I was always afraid of the messiness of the paint, so I used to work the dry medium more. After conquering my fear of liquid media, I developed my present technique. As a young artist it is important to try things even though you are afraid. Do not let overthinking get in the way of what is in your heart.
RS: Please share with our readers your creative process- how you conceive an idea for a painting and how you implement your idea on canvas. Are there any particular colours, brushes or paper/canvas you use? Our wannabe painters would be grateful for any tips from you.
JL: I usually start out with small six-inch thumbnails that are not very involved. And I do at least 5 or 6 of them. The purpose of these small sketches is to compose the image and focus on the basic idea. Afterwards, I plan a photo shoot. At the photo shoot, I pose models according to my thumbnails. The next step is to gather all the photos in photoshop, and I create a composite image. In this process, I cut and paste different parts of photos. Perhaps, I use the face of one photo and the arm of another and a background from another photo. Most of the time I'm working from at least 10 different photographs to design a painting.
I design my own painting surfaces. Currently, I use cradled Masonite on which I apply five coats of white gesso. I sand the surface between each coat of gesso. I am working on a charcoal painting right now and it's going to be on Masonite board. I work this way because there have been so many accidents in the past using canvas.
RS: You say that you want to ‘amplify the aspirations of all Americans that have contributed to make this country one of the greatest ever.’ Our readers would be curious to know how you do that through your Artwork?
JL: The contributions of marginalized people have been ignored or dismissed and people like women, African Americans and Mexican Americans contributed greatly to the development of the old West. Some things have been a bit more conspicuous; Bass Reeves was the real lone ranger. I have been focusing on a body of artwork using four different concepts that reflect some of the high points in his career as a United States Marshall. There are other minority cowboys that have done so many outstanding feats in the old west. Many women have also contributed and have been slighted. I create historical artwork so people will know our legacy and know the truth. Hollywood and pop- culture have twisted in the events of what really happened in the past.
RS: It is a rather unfair question to ask but out of all the art works you have created, is there any special artwork that is closest to your heart. Which one and why?
JL: What is closest to my heart is the driving force behind my creating artwork. I want to tell the real story of what happened in the history of the old west through a body of artwork that illuminates and educates. I feel it is my assignment.
RS: Who is your favourite artist among the traditional painters as well as the contemporary crop of artists and why?
JL: My favorite traditional painter is Caravaggio because of his sense of lighting. My favorite contemporary artists are Mark Maggiori, Thomas Blackshear, Colt Idol and Dean Mitchell. I have quite a few of them because I enjoy studying the current art market.
RS: Your Virtual art Show was a lot of fun. The mix of music, comedy and Art tour is an innovative way of bringing Art to people without making it too academic or boring. How did you think of such an innovative idea?
JL: When we performed in the senior centers, we would sing, dance and add humor to our performances because many of the residents had Alzheimer’s and some didn’t have many visitors. They remembered those old songs. According to the caretakers, many of the residents seldom looked up. When they heard a familiar song from their youth, they would get enthusiastic and animated. We used comedy and music as a vehicle of love and healing. There are several videos on YouTube featuring us opening and ending the Facebook videos with a song and sharing my artwork with a description of the art, the title, size, and cost of the artwork.
RS: I notice that you have a website called jameslovelessart.com which features your works. Tell us a little about it.
JL: What I love about my website at jameslovelessart.com is that one can purchase my originals as well as my prints at very reasonable prices. I have an interactive, e-commerce website and you can order in the comfort of your home. The art can be printed on five different surfaces including paper, canvas, acrylic, wood and metal. I also provide several size prints of my artwork to fit your budget. We sell art all over the world, and it has allowed me to meet many people I never would have met if I just owned a brick-and-mortar building.
I recently began offering merchandise. Now you can own my art printed on t-shirts, tote bags, mugs and throw pillows. My wall calendar features thirteen months of my artwork, and my calendars start in the month you prefer. Most calendars only begin in January, but mine can begin any month you like, which makes it perfect for a timely gift or special acknowledgement!
RS: Your work is not only beautiful but also has depth. What advice would you give upcoming artists on how to develop and hone their craft and make it relevant.
JL: It's always good when you're doing the artwork that you have something to say, whether it's your feelings in an abstract work or to express something beautiful in an impressionistic work. I feel it’s always good to have a story because when you are selling artwork you want to have a story behind the work to help market it. Whatever you do, do it every day. If you work a job, get up and go to your job and when you get home take some time to work on your craft. Do something with your art every day and that will make you better. Working on your art every day will help you define your voice as an artist.
Thank you so much James for taking time out to talk to us. It was a pleasure talking to you. We wish you the best in your creative pursuits and hope you continue to make Art fun, so that everyone can connect with it and understand it better.