Tuesday, January 10, 2012

James H. Fullmer - Fellow Artist and Friend

I find it a great privilege as a new, beginning artist to have a friend who is a professional artist.  It's all he does and he supports his wife and four boys doing it.  I have known James H. Fullmer, or Jay, for a long time, for more than ten years now I think!  He moved to my hometown and was a member of my church.  He taught early morning Seminary and did a fantastic job at it.
While I was home for the holidays, I asked him if I could stop by his studio and talk to him a little bit.  He showed me some of the stuff he's been working on diligently for the last year for his latest project - The Other Heroes of the Book of Mormon.  My parents had a copy of the book at their home and I only had a chance to peruse it during my stay there, but the artwork is of course phenomenal.  The stories are exaggerations, but bring the stories and characters from the Book of Mormon into life.
Here's a trailer of the book:
While talking to him I asked him several questions about what he wants to do next, if he was planning on doing art shows, or exhibits, or make/sell prints of his works, etc.  He said that much of his works are narrative, illustrations, and not necessarily fit for most people to simply display in their homes, and to get things ready for exhibition/sale (i.e. framing) costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time.

I him if he ever wanted to do stories from the Bible, or depictions of Jesus' life.  He said no; he said that his calling, he felt, was to continue painting, depicting, and telling the stories of the Book of Mormon.  He then told me how when he first began to paint and do art, he thought and felt that his calling was to paint landscapes and animals, which he painted exceptionally well:
But, later Jay realized that his love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as his love especially of the Book of Mormon, called him and his art in a different direction.

It was these statements that led to a discussion on what I feel my 'calling' as an artist is: and I don't know.  Jay asked me if there were no limitations on time or resources, what would I paint or create, and I didn't really have an answer.

The problem I think is that
1. I do have limitations on my time and resources and
2. I often feel comfortable simply doing what I know best - drawing.

I have drawn since a little girl and have developed it quite a bit through the years.  I also have always been fascinated with drawing people.  I love doing portraits, but lately have enjoyed the still-lifes I have done as well.  But, what kind of calling is simply copying a portrait and redrawing it for people all the time?  Can you truly call yourself an artist on such grounds?  Can you even make a living simply doing that?

Even if I continued to do still-life work, which I take my own reference photos for, and draw, which I enjoy, is there a career or a passion to that for me as well?

The thing about drawing, is that drawing is the fundamental skill of art.  It's the first thing you learn.  Generally speaking, if you can draw, and draw well, you will be a better artist in whatever medium you chose to create in.  Which means, perhaps my future as a life-long artist is not simply in pencil and charcoal.
I really would like to explore mediums more, like paints, and really start to figure out what I enjoy.  What brings me the most satisfaction?  What is my calling as an artist, as a Christian artist? 

When I think about art I would someday like to create and sell and be proud to call mine and that is original, I do think it would have a religious context, though perhaps not overtly religious (i.e. not Jesus hanging on the cross).  I think creating works that depict human happiness, love, joy, and hope would suit me.  I love families and marriage.  I love children.  I love the simple pleasures of life.  I once had an art professor say that we should not depict the difficulties of life in our art, but the ideal, and I like that.  We know what the difficulties of life are, what problems there are.  Unless we are offering a solution in our work, we aren't truly doing our part of contributing to our society in a positive way.  We are artists.  We can choose what to depict. 

I guess part of the reason I have this blog is so I can share my journey from graduate to artist.  I hope everyone will bear with me and encourage me as I discover what I am truly meant to do. 

Feel free to follow Jay on his blog HERE or HERE - great for artists!
Click Other Heroes of the Book of Mormon if interested in his new book.

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