From “Off The Palette”, the arts column in HVBiz, a business magazine for NY’s Hudson Valley. May 9th edition.
HVBiz: How long have you been painting?
James Porter: I’ve been drawing and painting on and off since I was a kid. My father and older sister are artists, as were several of my grandparents, so there is an appreciation for art in my family that helped to cultivate my passion for art.
HVBiz: Tell us about your current work.
JP: Lately I’ve been working with oil pastels, using a process of layering on color and etching out the image. The imagery in my current series draws on universal symbols, shapes and patterns, and is influenced by my travels in India and Africa.
HVBiz : What is the main inspiration for your work?
JP: What keeps me coming back is the feeling of aliveness, connection and wonder that I get when I create. It’s like being at a birth. And I learn so much from the creative process - about being available for inner guidance, about sidestepping the inner naysayer or critic who sabotages creativity, and about trusting and enjoying the process, all great lessons I can apply elsewhere in my life.
In indigenous societies, art gives form to the spiritual realm in a way that nurtures, enlightens, and even protects the community. It’s not just something nice to look at, or a commodity, it’s a living thing that serves as a bridge between the seen and unseen worlds. Indigenous art fulfills a vital role for the community. I’m interested in creating art that serves this original purpose. I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but I’m trying – and I’m willing to learn!
HVBiz: How has the recession affected local artists?
JP: It can be challenging to sell artwork right now. The silver lining is that people are getting creative in response to the “new economy” – reaching out to fellow artists, and finding collective ways to connect with an audience and serve the community and each other. In all areas of life, the recession is inspiring community building, and in my view was gaining something more valuable than money in the process.
HVBiz: What’s your advice for budding artists?
JP: Being creative is everyone’s birthright. It’s a symptom of being fully alive. Whether you love to cook, write, talk, dance, draw, or fix cars, there’s art in it. Please give yourself permission to love what you love and pursue it! There’s no better gift you can give to yourself or the world. The key for me has been learning to work with the inner naysayer, that voice that tries to stop us when we pursue our passions and dreams. The naysayer thrives on isolation, so whatever your creative passion, find others who share it and spend time with them. Hold a monthly meeting of knitters, or gardeners, or antique car enthusiasts, whatever the case may be. Your confidence and creativity will grow by leaps and bounds, and you’ll be happier for it – and so will the world. --- Pangea, a series of oil pastels by James Porter, is on view at The Storefront Gallery, 93 Broadway, Kingston, NY, from May 7th- 31st.