Finding Light in Life & Landscapes
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Jim Paget likes to take risks in his art.
He will spend months painting a perfect picture, carefully adding detail to trees, modifying colours to find the right tone, and placing each stroke with care. Then Paget will smear paint on top of the picture in round shapes and sweeping lines, capturing sunlight, gestures of shapes and images. In the end, fine detail peeks through the shapes for a painting that shows more the longer it is admired.
“After I've done a certain amount of appraising the landscape, there's a point where I decide to jump off from something rational into something more fundamental,” said Paget, talking about his paintings that feature this gesture drawing later. “It means sometimes obliterating what you've done, but I will take that risk.”
Paget, 71, is a master painter, educated at Ontario College of Art (now OCAD-U) and from a long line of landscape painters. He has spent his career teaching art at college and university level, working as an artist in residence and exhibiting his work in Toronto area, Collingwood and The Blue Mountains.
Paget's most recent show, entitled Beauty in Simcoe County, was on display at L.E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury for the month of October.
Studying under art masters such as Carl Schaefer, John Alfsen and Fred Hagen, Paget developed a preference for landscape and figure painting.
“The figure was well-represented and well-taught,” said Paget. “I had teachers quite versed in the figure, and that brushed off.”
He says the image of man and woman became of interest to him in a sense that he enjoyed searching for his own representation of the spirit of the human being. “It's incumbent on you to find your own way to reflect the quality of man,” said Paget.
Throughout his career he has strived to work on the development of technique, alongside the development of his own mind, turning to philosophy, poetry and theology to inspire his pieces.
“All artists are trying to balance that equation,” he said. Often Paget will show this balance in a single painting with a detailed, realistic landscape painting overlayed with what he calls gesture drawing, which is quick, elaborate scribbling of shapes and contours. Sometimes the overlay is a figure, other times it is light patterns and shapes.
“It's become a human utterance,” said Paget. “It's an imaginary overlay of powerful components. It's another painting on a painting.”
As a senior artist, Paget has seen many changes in the art world. He has seen the emergence of abstract expressionism and an art world growing to include more mediums, subjects and artists than ever.
“There is so much out there that is wide-ranging and speculative,” said Paget. “For the average person, it is hard to make sense of it ... There's something out there for everybody. If one was going to be positive, that includes art that is dissonant, difficult to listen to, look at and read ... some of it is abrasive.”
But the art world, he said, reflects the world of those who admire the art. “People are concerned about our time, the people and future,” he said. “It can be dark, but for others, it's exploratory.”
Paget has his own collection of pieces he created during two years of research into World War II. In his decades as a painter, he has done his own exploring, but he has chosen the beauty around him as his subject matter. Living in Glen Huron helped him see the positive efforts of man. Spending months in a field, capturing each leaf and branch in a forest, and the wings of the birds above has inspired Paget.
“The light at the end of a lifetime of speculation is worthwhile,” said Paget. “I know what is problematic and dark, but I do not dwell on it.”
Paget has his own working studio in Collingwood, but currently does not have any pieces in public shows.
To contact Paget, e-mail or call him at 705-445-5821.


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