ROCKWALL, TX (Dec. 9, 2014) Renowned artist Jim Colley received a merry welcome from local Rockwall residents during a Saint Nicholas Day celebration at his home on Sunday. Colley recently relocated his studio back to his home in Chandler’s Landing, and invited locals to peruse through his many different art collections while enjoying good food, drink and conversation. Guests were also encouraged to bring a toy to donate to the Helping Hands Toy Drive.
Colley has produced many paintings for tons of different clientele, including hotels in Madagascar, homes in London and Paris, and a huge piece for Southwest Airlines.
“Sometimes I haven’t even been there before and I’ll walk in and see one of my paintings,” Colley said. “I kind of like that and I like being invisible too.”
Colley first learned to draw around the year World War II was just beginning, and was encouraged by his father who would give him a nickel or dime for every drawing he completed.
At just the tender age of nine, Colley had the chance to work with the First Lady of Memphis art, Florence McIntyre, at a free art school she ran out of her home in 1942. There, Colley would draw whatever was put in front of him, and if the drawing was done to the satisfaction of McIntyre, she would give him a free period to draw whatever he could conjure up in his imagination.
“You were not there to express yourself, you were there to learn how to do it right,” Colley said, “and that’s what it was about.”
Some of Colley’s numerous works include two big paintings for Texas Capitol Bank, several ceramic medallions at Rice University, two pieces for the Midland Petroleum Club, and one of the largest egg tempora murals in North America at a penthouse in Turtle Creek, which measures eight to nine feet tall and nearly 30 feet long and was painted on a plaster wall. The multitalented artist has also delved in furniture and tile design, and collects many different types of art which can be found hung all over the walls of his beautiful home overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard.
“Jim has an appreciation for every type of art,” said Donna Wildman, owner of Wildman Art Framing located on Market Center Boulevard in Dallas. “He paints these beautiful landscapes and water scenes, but then he also collects a lot of art from the 1700s and 1800s. We display his artwork, and often people will commission him to do work based on what they see at the shop.”
While Colley said he has focused on landscapes because they are big sellers in the Dallas market, his works also depict family, including one of his late wife hung upstairs which reflects in the mirrored glass on the staircase wall.
In fact, the way his images are arranged in his home speaks volumes to how precise Colley stays with the emotions his art provokes, a facet of art he says inspires a lot of the work he does for his diverse clientele.
“Part of it is not just what you see in trying to paint it, but your emotions also play a role,” Colley said. “Part of my inspiration when I paint comes from the emotional response I have with my clients.
“I like doing commission work because it pushes me,” Colley said. “I have to please not only myself but somebody else.”
Some of the things Colley enjoys to paint at his studio home in Rockwall are the picturesque sunrises and sunsets that hits the waters of the lake each day, which Colley said are a challenge for any contemporary artist today. From his balcony, you really can’t get a much better view anywhere else in Rockwall.
“When I moved out here, at some point it occurred to me that no one paints sunrises and sunsets, or very few contemporary artists do,” Colley said. “So I thought, I’m going to do it and see if I can measure up, because if the artists of the 19th century could, then why can’t we?”
To the well-trained eye of a top-tier artist, however, gorgeous sunsets are just a mere example of the beauty of the natural world. According to Colley, capturing that beauty is a responsibility for all artists, and one that can change people for the better.
“I have the notion that good art makes for better people and bad art makes for worse people,” Colley said. “So I just try to do something as pretty as I can. I think the world as its created is very beautiful, and it’s our responsibility to use it to make beautiful things.”
Story and photo by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News staff writer and reporter.
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