Trained as a classic, traditional painter, it's not uncommon to see an old world still life by James Jensen next to one of his modern pieces at Masters Gallery in Vail, part of a family of galleries that's carried his work for 20 years. As an artist, Jensen covers a wide range of subject manner, a variety of which is on display at Masters, a gallery that's been "extremely supportive of the growth and creative process of an artist," he said.
Recently he's been working on a series of horse paintings.
"The horses I'm working on now are a new version of the grand old horse portraits, very European in their origin, the horses were posed majestically and painted like royalty," Jensen said. "Right beside these in the gallery are works that tell stories for the orient ... the Buddha, kimonos, textiles and themes that are rich but still really contemporary."
Jensen also does abstract contemporary pieces.
"Often overlooked is that many abstract painters have classic training, this is where the science of paint is learned, composition, balance ... these are things I struggle with and apply daily, and my music training secured the discipline that I now rely upon," he said.
Friday and Saturday, Jensen will be at the Vail gallery from 2 to 6 p.m.
"(Jensen's) intense use of color and old world style of drawings depicting objects and nature with true to life detail never fail to captivate art lovers," according to the gallery's press release. "The classic beauty of his art adds beauty and soul to any room. After years of working with pastel he takes on his long awaited passion to work on canvas, combining his classic style with the truly modern, with bold expressions and mixed media creating contemporary masterpieces with a touch of old world charm."
Jensen talked to the Vail Daily about his other passion, the piano; what he likes to do in his spare time; and why he spends a month abroad each year.
Vail Daily: You originally wanted to be a concert pianist but ended up becoming an artist. Tell me about that journey and what led you to take the path that you did.
James Jensen: Yes, I started out in concert piano, which is a very disciplined study, this would be very helpful later in the visual arts. Art and music were always somehow my future, eventually the knock on the door from visual arts won, now the piano is my "hobby" - an excellent diversion from the easel.
VD: You grew up in Colorado but now live in California. Do you make it back to Colorado often?
JJ: Being from Colorado, and now working with galleries here is pure good luck, but shows what a diverse state it really is. I grew up in 100 percent mountain recreation, and now these same areas also support the arts ... that is a rare collision of great outdoor fun, art, music literature, great food ... I could go on.
VD: I read that you spend a month in Italy each year. What does that do for you as an artist?
JJ: World travel is important to me. My work has (I hope) a sophistication that comes with large experiences. Seeing historic cultures, their art, religions and museums is a lasting impression. I often am not sure what I'm taking away with me til I hit the studio ... then the travels just flood out as inspiration, usually for a whole body of work.
VD: What do you do to "get away from it all"?
JJ: An artist is always in their head, it's a very self indulgent journey, so what I do to get away from all of this lofty activity, for kicks. Good old Americana road trips that are nowhere near a gallery or museum! Route 66, Las Vegas, western Texas. Next up are hot springs in Arkansas. I grab a friend with the same itch and off we go!