Artist of the Month

Jim Morris pauses with an in-progress work.

Jim Morris pauses with an in-progress work.

LaVerne Kyriss

“Just a Sunday painter,” is how Jim Morris describes himself, making it a point to insist that he’s not an artist. “I don’t paint for the market and it’s not important to me to sell my work. I paint for enjoyment and to push myself to try new things,” he explained.

After moving to SaddleBrooke in 2009, Morris took classes from four or five different instructors. I learned how they painted. “Now, I’m working on refining my own style. I don’t want to be a landscape or floral painter. I want to paint variety. I still take classes, but it’s mostly online or some kind of computer-based approach,” he said. “Most of my work would be classified as on the representational end of the scale, but my technique also has an impressionistic tilt.”

Each year, Morris picks a different theme for his paintings. In 2017, he’s featuring scenes from south of Tucson. His goal is to complete 50 paintings which represent that theme before the year ends. Morris said he started out working in acrylics but now prefers oil. “I love the feel of oil,” he noted. Morris also only paints on particle board. “I’ve standardized my sizes of work and prepare the boards in mass quantity, cutting them to size, sanding, applying three coats of gesso and sanding again.”

Morris has also come up with a way to display his prolific work without a lot of framing expense. He uses a simple square of 1×1 wood strips attached to the back of each painting so it stands away from the wall and paints the edges in black.

Morris typically has four to six different paintings in progress at any given moment. “I follow the same process for each painting,” he explained. “I first complete a simple line drawing in red pencil. Next, I prepare a tone study over the pencil drawing, using burnt umber for the darkest blacks. I always paint the darkest areas first. Finally, I apply color, using a broken color technique.”

What that means is that Morris applies pure dabs of paint on top of each other to form the shades and tones. He does not blend colors on his palette. He says it takes him about eight hours or so to complete a 16×20 painting (one of his three standard sizes) over several days.

Morris is organized, likely the outcome of a career as a mechanical engineer. He photographs and catalogs each finished work and stores an image on his website, Art is organized there by category and in a monthly journal.

Morris is also a self-admitted compulsive volunteer, taking on several duties for the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild, including providing website support, serving as registrar for Guild classes and serving as the lead for the Guild’s monthly non-critique sessions. “We meet on the second Wednesday of every month in the Topaz Room at HOA 2,” he said. “Everyone is welcome. We talk about techniques, sway tips and tricks and share ideas. It’s a comfortable place to come and talk about and learn about art. Some of our regulars don’t even bring something they’re working on or just completed. Stop by and check us out,” he summed up.