Hudson Valley landscape and wildlife artist James Coe recently dropped off four paintings new to Gregory James Gallery, including two atmospheric landscapes and a seascape that resonates with the warmth of a summer evening.
The fourth painting, “Reflections of Elegance,” features a majestic Great Egret sending gentle ripples across the surface of a pond – a signature subject for Coe, who has a passion for birds, nature, old barns, and relics of our rural heritage.
Coe worked on “Reflections of Elegance” over nine years, repainting it numerous times before finally feeling this past summer that he had hit the right note in rendering the reflections and ripples in the water.
The artist’s website explains that growing up in the suburbs of New York City, he was fascinated by the egrets and shorebirds in nearby salt marshes, and he taught himself to identify the birds he saw. He began to paint as a teenager, as he and a friend endeavored to create a guide to local birds.
The artist graduated with a degree in biology from Harvard University and intended to become an ornithologist – before going on to attend Parson’s School of Design in New York as a graduate student, where he studied figural and still life art in a traditional atelier setting. After earning a master’s degree, his training in biology and art combined to yield a focus on the art of field guide illustration and a long list of notable illustrating credits.
When he transitioned to focusing on fine art, Coe began painting en plein air landscapes, a process that begins with making studies in the field, followed by completing canvases back in the studio.
These days, according to the artist’s website, his paintings “combine his passion for landscape with a finely detailed knowledge of natural history,” which often means integrating birds into his landscapes – with a scientific fidelity to the birds and a painterly approach that elevates the mood of the landscapes.
“He hopes to evoke the poetic quality of birdwatching: that magical moment when bird, environment, and atmosphere merge into one memorable image,” the artist’s website explains, noting that Kathy Foley, director of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wis., has described his recent canvases as being “ethereal, moody, and sensitive all at once.”
Coe has been showing his paintings in the museum’s prestigious annual “Birds in Art” show since 1980. In 2011, he was named one of the Woodson Museum’s “Master Artists,” and the museum has acquired his paintings for its permanent collection.
James Coe lives in Hannacroix, N.Y., a rural farming community on the Hudson River about 25 miles south of Albany.
For more information about James Coe’s paintings, see his artist’s page, and to see more of his paintings, visit the gallery at 149 Park Lane Rd. (Route 202) in New Milford. For pricing call owner Greg Mullen at 860-354-3436.