Vail: The story is in the painting |

Vail: The story is in the painting

Special to the Vail Daily

VAIL, Colorado – When James Jensen, who will host an art show in Vail Friday and Saturday, was a young man, he wanted to be a concert pianist. His artistic endeavors eventually found a different avenue – visual art.

But the similarities between piano and paint remain noticeable to him. Like a good piece of music, each of his paintings contains a story. There’s lyricism and there’s emotion.

“I really construct them over a series of layers, and the story kind of builds up within each painting,” Jensen said. “They’re very deep. They have a composition to them. These words are also used in the building of music.”

Jensen will be bringing another batch of stories – in the form of his paintings – to Vail’s Masters Gallery for his 38th art show here.

About five years ago, Jensen made the transition from painting a lot of florals to contemporary art. He was challenged by the free-form, chaotic style of painting.

While he still incorporates some florals into his work, the paintings he will bring to Vail are largely abstract.

One piece he’s excited about is called “Alizarin Crimson,” named after the paint he used. By using only the color red, it was kind of like tying one hand behind his back, he said.

“It’s an example of me limiting myself to smaller color pallette and making it be very interesting,” Jensen said. “It’s all done in red. Red is a very strong color emotionally right off the bat. People respond to red. To make this painting very interesting I probably used 50 shades of red and a lot glazing. Glazing is a laborious process of building a painting up so it looks like it’s liquid, maybe out of water.”

Coming to Colorado is actually a homecoming for Jensen, who was raised in Fort Collins. His father is a sculptor, and he grew up surrounded by creativity.

“I was raised in kind of an unusual household where art was always going on. Just the smells and feel of materials and projects being made, ever since I can remember,” he said.

Jensen now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., where he has a studio in an old movie theater. He stands in the middle of the big space, and all the paintings are flanked around him as he works on them.

“I needed a lot of room, and it’s very theatrical, and my work really has a lot of theater to it,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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