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 C. J. VanJames  (1964 - )

About: C. J. VanJames


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Lived/Active: Colorado/California      Known for: animal, harlequin, dragon, clown, whimsical subject, horse painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
Mardi Gras Harlequin, colored pencil, 20" x 28
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Great Western Art Gallery, LLC:
C.J. VanJames was born in San Bernardino, California, on September 9, 1964. Daughter of a U.S. Air Force Officer (father) and a Business Administration Manager (mother), VanJames’s had creativity derived from both sides of the family who had musical talent ranging from singing, playing violins, guitars, and piano all the way to actually building their own guitars.

Riveted by the art of Frank Frazetta and the sculptures of Inge King, VanJames decided to focus on the visual arts at the age of four and one-half because she found the creation of art to be an entirely natural and joyous experience.   She boldly started creating new pieces of art.  One piece ended up being the favorite of the Elementary School class, and it won first place in the schools art contests.  Already in the First Grade (Elementary School), VanJames received her very first art commission at the age of 6.  The type of art she created was stylized botanicals using bright colors on a black background. The botanicals were mostly flowers and particularly one flower with a long stem, with bright multi-colored leaves and a profusion of flower petals.  Her admirers were her classmates, the First Grade teachers of the school and some of her classmates’ parents.

VanJames’s paintings were very prolific throughout her entire schooling, even more so during high school thanks to her art teacher Ms. Baker, who encouraged VanJames to display her art for all to see.  Ms. Baker organized and helped VanJames with her first solo artist exhibit in high school where one third of her displayed works sold.  Ms. Baker also helped VanJames complete the paperwork for registration and admission into Colorado State University as an Art Major, where she would graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1986.

VanJames’ university art professors trained her to see design-composition as the most important element of a painting.  They taught her to respect her art, skills and talent.  She was trained to see, with a critical eye, and to understand what made a great piece of art and to gain confidence and maturity in what she saw and why she did or didn’t like a piece of art.

Upon graduation from Colorado State University, VanJames decided to move back to California, this time to Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica. The move there seemed to be a great place to further her training in art and the business of art. She continued drawing through extended art classes offered by the Santa Monica College.   It was during this period of time, between 1986 – 1993, that VanJames joined the Art Students League, wherein she was taught to hone her classical art techniques and gain exposure to truly serious and ambitious artists who knew their art and understood the business of art.

Due to the unsettling earthquakes, floods and fires that were so prevalent during 1992 -1993 in the Los Angeles area, VanJames decided it was time to relocate again to Colorado.  Although VanJames continued to paint, her inquisitive mind and knowledge-seeking desire led her to spend one year (2001) in Melbourne, Australia, studying the aborigines’ art, thereby challenging the evolution of her own art style by being exposed to other styles and methods.

VanJames settled in Colorado for good upon her return from Australia and again joined the Art Students League. When she wasn’t painting or sketching, she worked as a sales representative and then as a technical writer for some of the biggest technology firms in the U.S., such as IBM, Xerox, and AT&T, amongst others. VanJames discovered through grade school, junior high and high school that she also wrote well and with ease.

As a public speaker, VanJames joined ToastMasters International in 1999 and remained there for 10 years.  She learned how to write speeches and deliver them to audiences of six to 200.  After four years of being involved with ToastMasters, VanJames was elected to the position of an Area Governor, which is a position that, typically, has five to six clubs reporting to her.  As an Area Governor, VanJames mentored other speakers, thereby being an example as to what a good speaker sounds like and looks like. For VanJames, it was a great job, an experience and skill she values because today she feels confident in speaking up when the need arises!

The evolution of VanJames’ art takes a natural zigzag course of discovery and maturation in that she loves focusing on the details of a subject. This focus is for all intents and purposes, a meditative state where the brain waves change from those of day-to-day consciousness to a focused and broad opening (theta waves) from where she draws inspiration from everywhere inside her mind. It is a fun experience, giving her great feelings of accomplishment and ‘flow’. From the detailed images VanJames creates with her harlequins, horses and clowns, her art zigs to a looser impressionistic style. She considers this style “unfinished” but those who appreciate art are thrilled by the dynamic zip of her impressionistic pieces. The evolution has come to a point where VanJames knows it is O.K. to create fun child-like images that need not be “just right”.

As a painter, VanJames appeared as a featured artist on local community television art shows such as “The Art Seen”, which were broadcast by TCI-AT&T Cable Television, Denver, CO, in 1997 - 1999.  From the late 1990’s onwards her artwork has been included in the permanent collections of The Ranch Country Club (Denver, CO), Law Offices of Sheridan Ross (Denver, CO), Ojai Spa & Resort (Santa Barbara, CA), and Coors Medical Center (Golden, CO). VanJames has had numerous exhibitions, a few of which where hosted at: Koelbel Central Library Gallery, Pinehurst Country Club (Denver, CO), Swallow Hill Café Art Gallery (Denver, CO), the First Universalist Church (Denver, CO), and the Palm Springs Art Museum (Palm Springs, CA). VanJames’s artwork is in the permanent collections of two museums: the Wild Life Experience Museum (Parker, CO) and The City of Littleton, Smithsonian Affiliate History Museum (Littleton, CO). VanJames also had display ads in the Southwest Art Magazine in 2002 as well as representation by Haddad’s Fine Art (Los Angeles, CA), Art Source L.A. (Los Angeles, CA), GrayHill Studios, Inc. (Denver, CO), and Image Kind (Seattle, WA).

As a past member of her City’s Art Advisory Board for art in public places 2002-2003), VanJames is now a member of the local Art Guild (since 1993) and the Art Students League of Denver (member since 1990).

C.J. VanJames works in oils and color pencil.  Both media allow the best expression of the subject’s nobility, energy and beauty. The works created take-off and dramatically go beyond prosaic boundaries of nature’s images and present startling and live forms. Alive, that is, from a soul’s perspective. As an active lifelong artist and painter, VanJames’ works are created in the realist, representational and contemporary traditions that are inspired by a passion and love of nature.

One intriguing and secret tidbit about VanJames is that, besides her design and painting of art, she has designed printed circuit boards for computer flight simulators and consulted with corporate Information Technology departments to build and deploy worldwide multi-million dollar computer systems. In addition, she has had one year of pre-medicine because for a time, her intentions were to become a degreed Medical Illustrator working side-by-side surgeons in the operating room.

VanJames plans for the future? To continue doing what she does best… designing and painting new art.

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