James C. Varnum
James C. Varnum grew up in a rural village in southern New Hampshire. He studied art in Boston and San Francisco, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. Varnum then decided to pursue a career in education and earned a Master's of Education. He worked as a classroom teacher for nine years before going on to earn a Master's of Science in communications disorders to work as a speech language pathologist. During those thirty-plus years he kept in touch with his creative side by taking art classes through various continuing education organizations.
Upon retiring from education in 2011, Varnum committed himself to pursuing art once again. He is the current president of the Newton Art Association and takes classes at the New Art Center. He belongs to several other art associations and actively exhibits his paintings; he classifies himself as an experimental watercolor painter.
I call myself an “experimental watercolorist.” I do so because my approach to the medium is anything but traditional.
My paintings are combinations of layered colors, movements and various textures on traditional watercolor papers and on surfaces such as Yupo and Terra-Skin. I use a variety of materials to create texture: plastic wrap, waxed paper, masking fluid, salt, and spray bottles with water or alcohol. I move the pigment with various tools including brushes, combs, squeegees, and palette knives. Finally, I add lines and marks with ink or graphite.
This method creates a give-and-take relationship that emerges and guides my work. I start with ideas about color, texture, line, and composition. My process promotes an interchange between the painting and myself.
The artwork is the result of my interpretation of the communication that happens during the process of painting. For me, there is a story that is woven into the creation of my paintings. In the end, these patterns, symbols and maps will be discovered by the viewer. My intent is for viewers to create an association, or an interpretation of the painting that triggers a narrative all their own.