Thursday, March 29, 2007

James Brantley

"Southern Gentleman."

Click to enlarge.

Watercolor, 19x26 in. Arches 140 pound hot press.

Best of Show

Louisiana Watercolor Society

2000 International Exhibition

New Orleans, Louisiana

Dagmar Tribble Award

American Watercolor Society

2001 International Exhibition
New York, New York

Via the website of The American Watercolor Society I learned about the work of James D. Brantley.

The first time I saw this magnificent watercolor I was very pleased about its expressiveness. Mr. Brantley granted me permission to put it on my blog for which I thank him very much.

A Step-by-Step Watercolor Portrait Demonstration can be found here on the website of the artist.

“My Subject

My subject for this portrait, as well as for many others, was John Reeves. Mr. Reeves was a cotton farmer from near Greenville, Georgia. He and his wife, Lucille, were sharecroppers many years ago, raising cotton and giving part of the crop to the landowner. Later, Mr. Reeves bought the land and was his own boss. He built 11 houses on the land, one for each of his children. His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren still live on the land today. Mr. and Mrs. Reeves have passed on. I have never met any finer people than John and Lucille Reeves.


  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Lamp Black
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Quinacridone Rose

Talent alone is worthless
I am often asked how long it takes to paint something like this. This painting was completed in about 24 hours actual working time. But it took me 50 years to learn to do this exact painting. And this painting, like every painting, drains me both emotionally and physically. Painting for me is not easy. I struggle with it, fret over it, and lose sleep over it. But I love it. I hope that I can inspire someone to give it a try. But remember this: Talent alone is worthless, unless it is coupled with work, work, work.

I always wanted to be able to paint people as well as the great masters painted people. During all that time, I never learned to paint landscapes very well. I have done a few, but none to my satisfaction. In the few years that I have left, I am going to concentrate on learning to paint landscapes. You won’t be seeing any more people paintings. Oh, I plan to do some portraits of my family, but nothing else. I love beautiful mountain streams, with clear water rushing over big rocks. There are also several old mills that I want to paint. Check back in a few weeks and see if I have done anything.”

“All there is to thinking, is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”

Norman Maclean in “A river Runs Through It.”

Official website of the artist.

With thanks to the artist. / Photo James Brantley.