James Gloria (and the Riverside Arts Festival this weekend!)

“I don’t care about the finished painting as much as I care about painting.  
The process is what motivates me.”  

--James Gloria, artist


Here is my most recent Easton Irregular article, an artist profile about local artist, James Gloria.  Meet James this weekend at the Riverside Arts Festival in Easton!

James Gloria is a prolific, exuberant painter living and working in the lush Pennsylvania countryside near Bangor.  Currently, he is drawn to the immediacy of plein air painting, and his style is fluid, painterly, and confident.  He is interested in the process of painting, including the materials and techniques used by 16th century fresco painters, especially the technique of Scagliola.  James is persistent and patient in his work, and his curiosity about the materials and process has added depth and interest to what he does.  

In his artist statement, he says: “By developing a familiarity with the component parts of the materials and techniques of painting, I engage in a dialogue. Inconsistencies in materials are, in fact, opportunities to explore the dynamics  and properties of raw materials. Expectations are modified, new paths are opened, and new ideas are stimulated. A focus on the process becomes as meaningful as the product.”
James Gloria has led a very creative life, having studied Scenic and Costume Design at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  For a while he worked as an apprentice designer and painter, and later on he started his own decorative arts business, painting murals and faux finishes.  In 2006, James and his wife, a former professional modern dancer, opened the Totts Gap Arts Institute.  They offer workshops, classes, and events in the fine and performing arts for all ages.  He also set up a weekly figure drawing session at Totts Gap, which meets every Wednesday and Thursday evening, and helps him to keep practicing the figure.


In his current plein air oil paintings, he often makes use of heavy impasto and large brush strokes, and he finds inspiration outdoors.  He greatly admires Sargent, Corot, and Sorolla.  When painting outdoors, James likes to remember these three goals given to him by his figure painting teacher Lloyd McNeill from Rutgers.  A good plein air painting should:
 Resemble the scene
Look like light
Look like paint
James makes a point to never abandon a painting.  “Even if you screw it up, you follow it through, and try to make it work,” he says.  “ Try to figure out why it’s not working.”  He compares painting to storytelling, in the sense that he doesn’t spell out every little thing.  Instead, he tries to describe the essence of the scene.  He also compares painting to music.  A musician himself, James plays improvisational jazz on the guitar.   
Whether it is storytelling, music, or painting, one doesn’t force emotion into the creative work, it just comes naturally.  James quotes another one of his teachers from Rutgers, Ilya Shevel, a Russian painter:  “I don’t know why you Americans are worried about putting emotions into your paintings, as if you had a choice.”  When you are an artist, there is no choice, there is just making the work, and allowing it to happen.
James explains his dedication to the artist path in his artist statement:  “For me, making art is a way of connecting with the essence of being, by living in the moment of the creative process.”


James Gloria will be at the Easton Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton, PA, entering the Plein Air painting competition on September 16th and 17th.  More about the Riverside Arts Festival,  James Gloria, and the Totts Gap Art Institute, where James will be teaching several painting workshops, can be found on these websites: