Saturday 22 December 2007

Interview with James Zar

q) Introduce yourself please…

a)My name is James Zar and I was born in San Pedro, California in 1941. I am, and have been, a professional artist for over forty years.

q)How did you get into art?

a)After graduating from high school I was sponsored by a patron to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. As a child I always felt the need to draw my experiences, thus art was as necessary to me as breathing. My ability to draw the characters I was portraying was recognized by my directress who introduced me to the then famous artist Keith Finch.

q)Who has been the biggest influence on you?

a)Keith Finch became my mentor and was like my second father. He let me study for free with him. During that time I began to understand that we form our own reality by our desires and beliefs, that art is about what is possible not what is accepted by social or religious dogma, that art is the celebration of the limitless possibilities of a life inspired by love! By adventure!

q)Are you ruled by any tendency in your creative work, or you only follow what comes in your mind?

a)My tendency in my work is always aimed at the explosive energy of our life source. At different times I am enchanted by different themes or ideas. Most often in my fantasy work, I am attracted to the enchanting beauty of life symbolized by the seduction of spirit, in other words by the enchanting female aspect of nature. The mystical erotic inner desire that lures opposites into passionate fusion; this is not pornography or titillation, but a sacred longing to realize the oneness of our pure being! The different ways that my paintings are formed always comes from ideas that leap out of nowhere as free children of God. I always trust these ideas with a child-like faith and endeavor to bring them into reality through my art. In my art, everything is sacred – everything is innocent.

q)Do you have a preferred medium to work on? Why?

a)My medium is oil paint on Masonite panel treated with three coats of Gesso and then sanded smooth. The surface quality I get with panel serves my need for clarity and detail without obstructive textures.

q)How much does your environment have an effect on your pictures?

a)The environment affects my work greatly. Having been born in a sea coast environment has perhaps fostered a mysterious aspect to my work. The ocean is a limitless and flowing song in my heart.

q)Tell us about your studio space. Where do you work? Do you listen to certain types of music while working?

a)My studio space is always in the home where I’m living. My wife is a writer and we constantly visit and share our current projects with each other. I used to rent a separate studio but felt it dissected my time; I like being in one place living with my art.
I used to listen to music while I worked but the older I’ve gotten, the more I enjoy the lush silence of my painting which is a meditation to me. Hence I can listen to my inner ear to the sounds of colors and the tones that the forms I paint issue from.

q)Who are your favorite artists?

a)My favorite artists from the past were the Flemish masters. They demonstrated the most astounding techniques I’ve ever seen.
The drawings of Michelangelo are pure power! John Singer Sargent’s paintings were flowing beauty. Of course my own teacher Keith Finch was a master of illusions and abstract forms of a musical quality. Current American artists whom I admire are Howard Turpning, and David LeFfel. And I love the paintings and techniques that my son Chet (whom I call The Great Chet) creates – . Of course as great illustrators there is Frank Frazetta and Boris. As for sculptors I think Maurice Lowe is great. And my good friend Morris Smith is one of the greatest abstract painters I’ve ever seen. Since I love all kinds of art styles I could go on forever.

q)When have you started using the internet and what role does this form of communication play for you personally, for your art, and for your business?

a)I’ve only recently started using the Internet with my site (which The Great Chet set up for me) and I’ve also got my blog and these two things have opened up my ability to share my work with people all over the world, and that thrills me. And the opportunity for more sales through new collectors and new galleries obviously increases.

q)What books are on your nightstand?

a)THREE MAGIC WORDS by U.S. Anderson, THE NATURE OF PERSONAL REALITY and SETH SPEAKS by Jane Roberts, KRISHNAMURIT’S NOTEBOOK by Krishnamurti, TO THE ACTOR, by Michael Chekov. Those are the books stacked on my nightstand but also, Alex Grey has written an important book for artists: THE MISSION OF ART. Oh, and another inspiring piece of work is THE SECRET

q)What’s playing on your stereo?

a)I love the music of my oldest son, Rick ( He's a wonderful musician.

q)Any interesting “rituals” before you start creating?

a)My art day goes like this: wake, meditate, walk with my wife, rest, workout with weights, breakfast, a short journal session while watching the ocean, the trees - in short I fill up with the outrageous abundance and beauty of the earth and then I sit down to work on my current painting. We live in a magical world if only we stop and become inwardly quiet and receive the spirit of “All There Is”.

q)What is your favorite color?

a)I always tend toward stark highlights of aqua blues and violets but against a background of deep browns and golds.

q)What is the best time in the day for you to work on a project? Is there one, or is it more about the environment – maybe the right mood?

a)I come to my work with the greatest energy and clarity in the morning hours.

q)What projects mean a lot to you at the moment?

a)At this time in my life my focus is mainly upon the seduction of the spirit of “All There Is” represented mostly by exquisite females caught in quiet reflection while posing in classic yoga/meditative poses. But I’m especially pleased with my latest painting which contains portraits of me and The Great Chet called WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE.

q)Your contacts…

a)The question of contacts in art is an ever shifting process. Right now I am in a show in Santa Monica California at Blink Digital presented through The Hive Gallery in Los Angeles, California. And you can find a list of galleries I’ve been associated with on my web site.
In closing, I would like to say that, for me, the open ended adventure of the human spirit is best demonstrated in the realms of fantasy or dream art work. The reflection of the awareness of life lived at the highest level of love, joy and wonder is my purpose in all my work. To share this with everyone is my dream.
James Zar


Blogger jase daniels said...

nice interview, very interesting.

thanks for this.


24 December 2007 at 01:56:00 GMT-8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great interview! Brian Sherwin interviewed James Zar last year for the Myartspace Blog. You can find it at or Scroll down and you will find them.
You might be interested in his art as well.

30 January 2008 at 18:54:00 GMT-8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both of these interviews are good sources for info on James. Can his work be found on as well?

9 April 2008 at 10:28:00 GMT-7  

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