From his earliest childhood memories, James McGrew remembers his
inspiration to draw/paint and photograph the beautiful world of the
Western U.S. His family camping/backpacking trips to Yosemite, Tahoe,
Trinities, Southern Oregon and the Coast were a major influence. Though
he began with watercolors, gouache, pencils and crayons, he quickly
picked up pastels at the age of 8 and oils by age 10. He grew up with a
love of nature, sports and performing arts.
Today those all
influence his painting and photography which goes beyond creating pretty
representations. James explains: "I strive to interpret nature with my
brush, not merely copying a scene but rather conveying the feelings,
emotions, weather, light, energy, movement of an experience. I want the
viewer to feel the wind, moisture, sunshine of the elements and feel
the excitement or relaxation I felt while painting on location. I hope
my works inspire others to love and protect our landscape/wildlife and
cherish our valuable human interrelationships with each other and the
James frequently visited Yosemite National Park
since he was just 4 months old and today its his primary subject and
inspiration. He has worked as a summer seasonal Yosemite naturalist
since 1996, teaching and inspiring groups on week-long backpack trips,
evening programs and hikes. He backpacks several hundred miles a year;
always with a pochade box and tripod. James works in his Oregon studio
for much of the year, but prefers to get out and paint direct from life
in the fresh air, with rugged hikes, and rapidly changing light and
weather that makes plein air painting so challenging and rewarding.
When not traveling to a national park, he often hikes around his own
neighborhood for inspiration. "I'm fortunate that my studio is just a
short walk from home and sits on the slope of an old shield volcano with
walking paths leading to views of Mounts Hood, Adams, Rainier, St.
Helens, and the Coast Range. I can find a painting within just a 20 min
McGrew's award winning artwork hangs in collections
around the world and has shown in top competitions, museums and
galleries including many solo shows. He is a member of the Oil Painters
of America, American Impressionist Society and the California Art Club.
With a strong science background, James has a unique level of
understanding of his subject matter. In addition to degrees in biology,
chemistry and geology, his master's thesis (environmental education)
focused on the role of art in Yosemite's preservation as the foundation
of our National Parks. He has presented as a keynote speaker at major
science, art, and education conferences including the Artists
Impressions of California Conferenc and will present at the 2016 Plein
Air Convention in Tucson AZ..
James paints en plein air
and later orchestrates his field studies with photography and strong
visual memory to create his refined studio paintings. Such works often
tell stories or serve as complex metaphors. His style is most
influenced by a combination of the Hudson River School, California
Impressionists and French Impressionists, and Romantics.
on his programs say his love and enthusiasm for nature is contagious.
His inspirational teaching styles reach a broad audience as he
interweaves art and science in an entertaining manner that people easily
In all his artwork, James uses
highest quality materials and time tested techniques coupled with modern
technology for museum quality. James resides in Lake Oswego, Oregon
with his family and especially enjoys painting, hiking, exploring and
fly fishing along side his two talented daughters.