In a philosophical sense my artwork is about the reciprocity between experience and memory. Drawing from observation, one always relies on memory. Looking at the page, one remembers what was beheld.
Cezanne once remarked that nature could not be reproduced. It can only be represented. John Brinkerhoff Jackson observed that landscapes do not occur in nature but are created when people adapt terrain to human use, and thus represent human desire. What I behold in nature is a visual feast. What I desire is to devour it."
JAMES L. McELHINNEY is a visual artist, writer, educator and oral historian who trained at the Tyler School of Art, as well as at Skowhegan and Yale. A descendant of Connecticut Yankee settlers, New Bedford whale ship captains and yeoman farmers from Donegal, McElhinney has traveled, lived and taught in many parts of the lower forty-eight states, Europe and parts of Latin America. His work has been featured in more than forty solo exhibitions in galleries and museums from New England to Colorado and from Texas to Ireland. He presently teaches at the historic Art Students league of New York, where he is also Special Consultant for Academic Affairs and Outreach. He has published two books on drawing for Sterling Publishing. His third book, Art Students League of New York on Painting published by Random House is due out in November 2015.
"Human history is mostly travelogue, from military campaigns to exploring expeditions and tourism itineraries. My paintings and drawings represent a synthesis of observations and narratives collected from fieldwork produced on visits to canonical vistas, battlefields, historic waterways and thoroughfares. The artwork itself is the whole activity that includes journals, writings, paintings, graphic works and at times, oral histories.
James L. McElhinney discusses the history and importance of artist journals.