As many of you know a favorite paper of mine is the Steamfitters’ Sentinel. I was honored by Local 287 when asked to sit for an interview. With back issues somewhat difficult to find I decided to reprint the transcript, which is below.
“How he paints a picture”
by Brick Turner, Master Carpenter 3rd Class
I recently sat down with local artist Jim Stroud and asked him about his process in painting. Although at times confusing and off topic many of his comments give insight to what it means to be an artist in today’s market.
BT Jim, when did you choose art as a profession?
JS It’s Jamie.
BT But, you’re a guy. Why would you want to be called by a girl’s name?
JS Because it’s my name. I prefer that you call me Jamie.
BT Yeah that’s not going to happen. Can we get on with this now?
JS Fine. I was doodling one day in tenth grade biology class when my teacher handing back my latest test said, “with grades like these you better stick to drawing”. I considered it a calling ever since.
BT How do you determine when to start a painting?
JS When I am filled with uncontrollable euphoria about a topic.
BT And how do you know when you are finished?
JS When that euphoria is replaced by total self-loathing.
BT I see you have started a painting of a landscape.
JS It’s a nude figure actually.
BT Jees. Would you walk us through your procedure?
BT You seem to have quite a few colors on your palette.
JS I used to paint with a limited palette but had a very difficult time getting yellows, reds, and blues. As you can see there’s lemon yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Light, Yellow Orche, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt Blue, King’s Blue and Prussian Blue. Then there’s the reds…
BT We won’t have time for all of those.
JS (sighs) I round it off with a few earth tones such as Burnt and Raw Sienna, Burnt and Raw Umber, Ivory Black and four whites.
JS There’s titanium, lead, flake and lastly bone white for when I’m having an off day. Of course, now this leaves very little room for mixing on my palette.
BT (to his photographer) Charlie you better move back if you want to get all of it in the picture. Do they usually come with their own legs?
JS Oh no, I had this especially made by a cabinet maker in Anchorage.
BT Knotty pine?
JS Yes. If you look underneath he made a small drawer to keep refreshments in case I get hungry while at work. Hmmm?
BT What’s the matter?
JS There seems to be a leak under the Lead White. I wonder how long that’s been there?
BT Isn’t that what made Van Gogh want to cut off his ear?
JS That’s an urban myth. What happen was he was napping on the kitchen table when a far-sighted cook came in and thought his head was a boule. Theo liked the tortured soul angle and would help sell paintings.
BT Getting back to your painting, without much room on your palette where do you mix your paints.
JS Right on the canvas. I’m working on her face so I take a little lemon yellow, some titanium white, a pinch of cadmium red. Hmm, seems a little bright so maybe some ultramarine blue and a little black. Damn. Now it’s too dark. I’ll just grab a little more yellow and white onto my brush. There, that should do it.
BT Looks a little like mud.
JS Hmmm, maybe more blue.
BT You mentioned brushes. Is there a particular kind you prefer?
JS Yes. I use only Barkley’s and Johnson’s Series 13. It’s made from 100% pure baby yak hair.
BT Baby yak hair? Sounds expensive.
JS They can be. Often times the little calves won’t hold still and they go plunging off the precipice and down into a crevasse. It’s a horrible sight.
BT Couldn’t you just use a synthetic?
JS Synthetics just can’t tolerate the weight of all the paint on load on them. And the price of a few hundred baby yaks every year more than make up for in creating art, don’t you think?
BT I’m not sure what to think any more.
JS Oh no, I did it again. See what happens when you don’t pay attention?
BT She does seem to have one foot too many. While you’re fixing that let me bring up another topic. I understand your artwork has recently come into vogue. What do you contribute that to?
JS Simple really. I changed the title of many of my pieces. For instance, that piece in the corner use to be called ‘Standing Nude’. Now it’s ‘Lump of Mud’. And that one there is no longer called ‘Girl with an Umbrella’ but ‘Arrangement in Black and Brown Dirt’.
BT Interesting. Sort of like Whistler.
BT And this piece you are working on?
JS This might be my Magnum Opus. I call it simply ‘Pile’.
BT Jaw dropping.
JS Yes, isn’t it?
BT I think that is all the time we have. Thank you Jim…
BT …for showing us how you paint a picture.
The editors would like to thank Mr. Jim Stroud for giving us a glimpse into his studio. We also would like to say that even though we cannot accept it the thought of giving the Sentinel his painting ‘Earth Hole’ was truly something else.