Brittany James graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA degree concentrated in oil painting in 2009 and has been a full-time artist and muralist ever since. As a Jersey Shore native, James began painting in Island Heights and was inspired by the beauty of her surroundings. Nature has always been a big influence in her work and continues to be today.
James refers to her style of painting as “Surrealistic Refined Impressionism”. She was most influenced in her early years as a painter by her mentor Elaine Sgambati, a New Jersey artist who often referred to her work as “refined impressionism”. As she developed her own style, James’ paintings began to head into more surreal subject matter and to take on fantasy-like qualities. All of James’ paintings are derived from a combination of photo references and imagined scenes to create the surreal images she paints today.
In addition to painting, James teaches art classes for children and teens at Inspired Minds Fine Art School in Lincroft. She also teaches painting classes for adults at art629 Gallery and runs an open studio for local artists. She is experienced in oil painting, acrylic murals, performance art, charcoal drawing, pastel, life drawing, printmaking, and sculpture.
James has painted live on stage at the State Theater in New Brunswick and the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park during Glen Burtnik’s British Invasion shows, and was part of a performance art piece during the Summer of Love concert at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank. She has been a muralist and featured artist for the Asbury Underground Art & Music Crawl, and has shown her work in several New Jersey galleries including Torche Gallery in Belmar, Art629 Gallery in Asbury Park, and George Segal Gallery in Montclair. She was recently commissioned to paint a very large mural in Keansburg New Jersey, which can be seen on Main Street.
Painting is my way of escaping reality. With a brush in my hand all of my surroundings and thoughts disappear, and my mind enters a new world within the canvas. For those hours that I am painting, I am temporarily existing in a dreamlike state. I often paint my dreams and am inspired by imagery that evokes emotions. The purpose of my paintings is to make the viewers feel as if they are escaping by looking at my art, the same way I feel while creating it. This has been my source of inspiration for over the past decade. I have represented the theme of escapism in forms of flying, floating, sleeping, dying, dreaming, disappearing, and being born. I enjoy making art that tells a story, and I especially like when that story can be interpreted in different ways by each viewer.
Artists are seekers, always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. Nothing is exactly as it seems and reality is often hidden behind illusions. Lately I have taken a more feministic approach to this thought. I am currently focused on the struggle some women face trying to find the delicate balance between wanting to be feminine and domestic, versus wild and free, and trying to be both at the same time. This is some of the most surrealistic work I have created so far in my ever evolving artistic career.
The healing therapy of art- making and self-expression has been very important to me throughout my life as well, and is something I continue to share with others through painting. I could not be who I am today without the ability and freedom to channel my thoughts onto a canvas. Whether it be through creating or teaching, I want to continue to make an impact on others lives through art. That makes me feel like I am doing my job as an artist.