"Every painting is a chunk of your life that in a way you somehow wrestled into paint."
He has absorbed a fusion of landscape visions from the mountain heights of the Andes, to Brazil’s Tropics as well as the cultures of the Beach Boys, the Hippie peace and protest movement, Norman Rockwell’s apple pie America and the British invasion of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Carnaby Street.
All these varied influences can be seen in his paintings. This Pratt institute graduate works primarily with realism, but always with a consciousness of the abstract just beneath the surface. Even the psychedelic experiences he had in the early 1970s show up in his brushwork and subtle patterns hidden within the paintings. Musical rhythms surface in each piece, as dancing while painting is part of Jame’s creative process.
At the easel, Griffin works with an exuberance bordering on madness. He stands and claims the canvas with great sweeps of his brush, throwing his body into the effort as the spirit moves him. A small stereo in the back pumps out Beethoven, Brahms and Afro-pop, as Griffin dances and paints and the distinction between the two becomes unclear. Working primarily with oils, he employs what he calls the “Messy Brush Technique,” which enables him to paint quickly and spontaneously, without time for uncertainty or second-guessing. By mixing colors with his brush as he paints instead of pausing to mix and switching brushes, Griffin cannot completely control how the colors will mix or even when a hidden red or blue from his bristles may come forth, but he can adapt and create.
Subject matter varies widely from vibrant tropical and rocky northeastern landscapes and seascapes to large, expressive florals & botanicals, to cityscapes, to ballet and Symphony focused work. Running throughout is a keen sense of light and shadow, color and form.
His paintings evoke an emotional connection with the viewer. His years as a book cover illustrator have taught James to visually communicate clearly and powerfully with layers of subtle complexity. “Book covers on a bookshelf need to immediately grab a potential reader but first it has to be noticed.” This concept shows up in his paintings. They will catch the viewer’s attention and then reveal the paintings lasting complexity and seduction as they unfold.
Discovering at very young age, his passion for the Art profession. He poured over the Saturday Evening Post covers, Sears Roebuck catalogs, comic books, Gustave Dore’s engravings for the Divine Comedy and any art book he could find.