Jim Urmston

About Jim

Jim Urmston

I came to Santa Monica in 1945. I attended Lincoln Jr. High and Santa Monica High School. I graduated from U.C.L.A. with a B.A. in art in 1955. After a stint in the Army I returned to U.C.L.A. and received an M.A. in painting in 1960. I taught at U.C.L.A. Extension from 1960-1995, and I have taught painting, drawing and art history at Santa Monica College for 40 years. Since retirement I have taught Mexican Art History at Santa Monica College for the last seventeen years. I have been a working artist for 60 years.

Landscape is my subject of choice. In my work I explore the mountains, valleys and canyons of Southern California, seeking views just beyond the architectural intrusion of man. These natural settings satisfy a search for a subject both beautiful in form and rich in formal and historical reference. The traditions of idealism, symbolism, and fantasy in landscape painting inform my choice of subject.

The beauty I find in this natural setting is born of the solitude and quiet. These places are superficially empty but filled with primordial grandeur. For me early morning or late afternoon light best visually organizes the special features of each setting.

In each painting I try to adapt the formal possibilities of whatever medium I use to the special physical features of the place I am interpreting. Recently, the medium of choice has been oil. Oil has a unique physical presence for me as I move the brush from mixing pallet to careful brush manipulation on the canvas surface. These sensations combine with the physical features of the landscape subject to capture light and atmosphere, producing perceived volume and spatial depth. An early morning light creates a veil of lightness and transparency. Late afternoon light produces strong contrasts that yield a sense of drama- all by the brush coming into contact with the canvas.

For me, all aspects of the California landscape are filled with a beauty that I strive to transmit to canvas in order to share my vision with others.