James Shay's paintings reflect his ongoing love-affair with the natural forms of California's beautiful coastal valleys. From his studio in Lucas Valley, near Point Reyes Seashore, north of San Francisco, he creates vibrantly colored paintings that embody the sensuous lines of the surrounding landscape. Shay's distinctive use of color, form and line to evoke the oak-studded hillsides and valleys of this northern California typography constitutes a contemporary style that merges his personal, highly intuitive manner of expression with concepts and techniques drawn freely from modern abstract painting. The paintings evolve from spontaneous Prismacolor pencil underdrawings into records of specific places in which the primacy of the expression rests with large areas of color. The bucolic, rolling hills and trees of his beloved terrain are paired down and transformed-the geography of forms delineated as fields of compressed energy.
The artist's choice of medium is casein, a millennia-old medium originally made of pigment suspended in organic substrates such as curds and egg whites. Its appeal is that it dries to a beautiful, fresco-like finish that also allows for extensive reworking during the painting's creation through the use of sandpaper, styluses, and other devices. The resulting works are amalgams of abraded and textured surfaces which offer occasional glimpses of the original drawing visible below.
"My paintings are evocations of the western American landscapes done with simple shapes, forms and strong color, representing something of the sensuality within our natural world. I like a high level of abstraction in representational art, and I love color. The work in my second show at the Anne Loucks Gallery contains depictions of California’s oak-studded hills and valleys, and abstractions of mountainous landscapes."