Caroline Dask chats with the immensely gifted artist and gallery owner, Jim Edwards, about creative freedom and selective memory painting..
As someone who grew up with a very artistic parent, I am naturally drawn to the arts. I admire the beauty of art and the blurry lines of creativity. I appreciate the fact that when it comes to creative work, there are no rules, no restrictions and no boundaries.
It’s as if there is no right or wrong, which offers comfort in a society full of high expectations and rules to live by.
One of those rule breakers is Jim Edwards, a creative soul from Bangor, North Wales. I stumbled upon him quite accidentally, but once I did, I was fascinated with his paintings that depict iconic bridges and buildings of our beloved North East.
Curious to learn more about Jim and his art and in getting to know him, I couldn’t help but notice the refreshing humility that surrounds him.
“I just see myself as an artist, a painter of cityscapes and landscapes,” he starts when asked to introduce himself.
“Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to do something creative, but back then, I wasn’t really sure what that was. So I decided to become an artist by the process of elimination in terms of my future career. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, but I definitely knew what I did not want to do.
“Although creative work was always within me, as a child I preferred not to paint because I thought it was hard work. But what kind of life would it be without a challenge along the way? In my wish to overcome it, I picked up a brush and started painting. The rest is history.”
Jim Edwards – Inspiration Behind Art
Looking through Jim’s portfolio I see familiar sights. Ones that I walk past almost every day, ones that became home to me four years ago, when I took a leap and decided to move to Newcastle.
Although there have been ups and downs within my move, I have never denied the beauty of the city and the irresistible charm it carries, which is so very well reflected in Jim’s art.
“I’m mainly influenced by what’s around me. It just so happens that when I graduated with a degree in graphic design, I decided to join my partner in moving to Newcastle. It’s a great city to paint. Its hilly geography allows for an interesting juxtaposition between buildings and bridges.
“And compositionally, all the structures take place in the foreground and middle ground, which makes for a very interesting image.
Compared to a flat city like London, where the expanse of the city continues too far into the distance, and it’s easy to get stuck in background detail,” he adds.
When asked to describe his painting style, Jim mentions that it’s hard for him to reflect on it, as he paints the only way he knows how and doesn’t try to fit within the realms of one specific style. I smile and think back to the boundaryless notion of Jim’s profession.
What attracts me the most to his creative work are the colours and the contrast between them. I’m curious to learn more about Jim’s personal creative process.
Jim Edwards And His Creative Process
“It’s quite a long journey to get to the finish line. It all starts with inspiration and I find that it’s the idea of a painting that inspires me the most. Scribbling some thumbnail sketches, conjuring up a workable composition, visualising a completed painting,” he explains.
“Then I set off for a field trip, working out the location, positions of structures in a landscape. I usually make a mental map, as I work on a series of thumbnail sketches. Each scribbled box refines the initial idea, until a worthy composition takes hold.
“For the painting, I refer to the sketch as much as possible, but I never worry too much about the accuracy of it all, I paint from my memory. I let the compositions evolve from a combination of imagination and selective memory. I find it gives that personal touch of my view of the city.
“Sometimes my paintings take way too long to finish. I find that the more paintings I do, the longer they take. It’s a battle. Sometimes the whole process can take up to a month. What takes the most amount of time are the layers of paint, to get the light levels right. Especially the cityscapes at night, to give the impression of structures glowing.”
Jim is no stranger to owning a studio, his previous artistic spaces were at The Biscuit Factory in Ouseburn:
“57 Lime Street was my first combination of a studio and a gallery. It was a challenge, as there’s less time to paint and more time for the gallery side of things. That being said, in my current studio, I have more space than before. I can separate the studio from the gallery, which is crucial.
“I’m able to paint and sell the work from the same space and I get to meet and chat to a generally quite mixed audience that stumbles upon my gallery,” Jim smiles.
Jim Edwards And St. Oswalrds Hospice
Amidst an intriguing conversation, Jim shares insights into his latest artistic endeavours, and to my delight, references a charitable organisation that resonates deeply with me. As I witness his noble commitment, I find myself increasingly captivated by his admirable involvement.
“I’ve recently painted a giant Shaun The Sheep sculpture for an art trail across Newcastle. All the ‘Shauns’ will eventually be auctioned off to raise funds for St. Oswalds Hospice. I can’t comment on how my design will look just yet, as it’s supposed to be a surprise,” he adds excitedly.
While the visual masterpiece Jim is currently crafting remains concealed from our view, the sheer brilliance encapsulated in his previous work leads me to confidently anticipate an extraordinary creation.
A testament to his unparalleled creativity, this forthcoming piece promises to be a captivating embodiment of artistic ingenuity. Like the rest of his work, we’re picturing an audacious colour palette, unapologetic vibrancy, and an undeniable ability to seize attention.
Jim’s work exemplifies the essence of boundary-breaking artistry – reminding us that art, above all else, should perpetually defy limits.