Studio Visit with Jim Park

Please meet Jim Park. One thing I really love about experiencing a painting in person is that play between viewing a piece up close and then far away. With a close, intimate look, you enter an abstracted world of colours and shapes, you can see the textures made with thick viscous paint or soft brush strokes. Stepping back, a different world is revealed. Those same shapes transform themselves into a rugged mountainside, or a tangled stand of trees. Jim Park's paintings take you on a journey through the landscapes of BC and Alberta and his use of colour, his obvious skill with the paintbrush and his focus on the beauty of the natural world all culminate in some amazing work.

Studio Visit: February 10th, 2016

Introduce yourself. How would you describe yourself as a maker/creative? How do you spend your days?

My name is Jim Park, I am a Vancouver based artist. I am a representational painter whose subjects range from local seascapes to mountainous landscapes of BC and Alberta. I try to make a work of art sensitive to the local culture and highlight the uniqueness of the geographic features. I'm particularly inspired by the effects of the natural light on forms, colours and pattern.

Briefly describe your journey. Were there some pivotal things that helped propel you to where you are now? (Perhaps there were some struggles that you see, in hindsight, helped you get to where you are now?

I grew up in a small city in South Korea called Pohang, and I moved to Canada when I was 13. My dad was a metallurgical engineer, and my mom was a piano teacher. I feel I was pretty fortunate from the beginning. For starters, my parents were incredibly supportive of my decision to become an artist early on. When I was attending high school in Abbotsford, I really liked the idea of becoming an artist, and art was always the class I enjoyed the most. I liked the drawing assignments, and I liked making things out of raw materials, but still I wondered if I was good enough to become a painter. When I went to Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, I found myself in a world of painting and painters, and it was then that I realized this is the kind of world I wanted to be in. I’d rather do that than animation, graphic design, or Interactive media.

The natural world seems to be a muse for your work. Do you often find yourself adventuring outdoors to gain inspiration for the next piece?

I do enjoy exploring nature and will not shy away from a physical challenge, but I refrain from going too far into the wilderness, or trekking some exotic land to get into a survival situation or anything like that. Every time I am out in nature, I would take hundreds of photographs and bring back the experience with me. Around every month or two, I would have a look over two or three batches of printed photos and start working on small study paintings. Out of the bunch, I would then select two or three images which I feel are strong enough to be made into larger paintings.

Do you have any rituals or a routine that helps ground you & primes your creative mind?

I have a certain peaceful and quiet daily routine of coffee and reading, walking, napping and then work.
I try to prevent myself from the outside world the hours I paint, and try not to let anything in that could throw my concentration off.

Fear and uncertainty seem to be an innate part of the creative process. How do you confront your fears, instead of letting them stop you?

Last few years, I've been trying to develop a way of mark making more accidental, swift and fluid.  I try to approach each painting without any set of formula and make an effort to simplify the process. I find some paintings come together almost instantly and few others can present an incredible battle. This explains the reason why some pieces become heavily layered and show more texture than others. Incidentally, some of my works are characterized as thick paintings. However, my goal is to resolve each painting with a minimum surface treatment.

I’m a sucker for good quotes. Do you have a favourite you’d like to share?

No one ever changed the world by being boring

What kinds of activities/interests do you have outside of your actual art practice, that you feel informs or inspires your work? (or maybe just contributes to a richer life)

I go to a lot of concerts and music festivals. As a music lover, I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to electronic and general rock. At studio, I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk, acoustic rock, indie and classical music.

Thanx Jim!

You can swim through the waters and traverse the mountains of Jim's paintings here: