“New York Barn” by James Young | Granville Ohio Artist | 2009. Oil on Canvas. Image: 24″ x 20″. Framed Black: 31″ x 27″.
James Young’s subject is endangered. The vast open spaces and farmlands that inhabit his paintings are disappearing at an alarming rate. To create his unique imagery, he draws upon his experiences living and working in the Midwest’s agricultural valleys. An appreciation of open space, contrasted with his obsession with early architecture, drives Jay to find old barns and rural farmhouses to include in his work.
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“New York Barn” | by Ohio Artist James Young | Epoch American & Agricultural Imagery | 2009. Oil on Canvas. Image: 24″ x 20″. Framed: 31″ x 27″.
Epoch American & Agricultural Imagery – Excerpts from Newark Advocate | November 18, 2019 | by Drew Bracken
His mom taught high school geometry and psychology in Granville. His dad owned a bookstore in the village. He has two older sisters, and when he was young, he said, “Many people in town thought my folks only had two kids because I never came to town. I spent most days in the woods or working on a nearby farm.”
“I always thought I’d be an artist,” he said. “I won my first art prize from the Village of Granville when I was in 3rd grade. But as a kid, I never thought of the job aspect of it.”
James Young Artist | The Beginnings
Young, now 56, graduated from Granville High School in 1981. Two years later, he earned an associate degree in industrial design (with a minor in furniture design) from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He then earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1986.
After graduation, he worked for a company that framed pictures for fast-food restaurants and hotels.
“I quit that job,” he said, “and opened a sign painting business in Newark, and I pinstriped cars at car shows on the weekends.”
James Young works on a painting in his studio.
Paintbrushes and supplies at a workstation in Young’s studio
“I found a shack to rent for $25 a month to do my sign work,” he added. “There was no heat or running water. Needless to say, I never invited a client to my office.”The following year, he moved his business to a second-floor loft in Granville and changed his focus to custom framing and fine art. A few years later, he made a move to street level.
“In 1989,” he recalled, “my dad retired from the Granville Times, the bookstore he started in 1958 in the same building we’re in today. The people who bought his business closed in 1995. He called me and offered me first dibs on renting the space. After a long night of thinking it over, I decided to move the gallery downstairs.”
Kussmaul Gallery and James Young Fine Art
Young adopted the name Kussmaul Gallery, by the way, in honor of William H. Kussmaul, who his grandfather, both uncles, and aunt worked for in the same building that the Youngs occupy today.”
Then in 2006, he created the name James Young Fine Art. Last year, he purchased the building next door to Kussmaul Gallery and moved James Young Fine Art into that space. He now spends his time creating paintings and doing custom framing. “I also continue to operate a custom sign business,” he added, “where I create hand-painted signs with agricultural themes.”
“When I first met Jay, he was building his business,” said Jenifer Young, his wife, and business partner. “Our first years together, we renovated the shop’s main floor and our 1828 saltbox home. He made time for painting slowly, starting with acrylics and finally, his preferred oil paint medium. He discovered his true love of American heritage, farms, and preserving those stories on canvas.”
“It’s great,” she added, “being married to someone who is following his passion in life, which is his art. He’s able to be a dedicated family man, businessman, and fine artist.”
“A life as a painter is a calling,” Young responded. “When I’m working, I rarely feel like I’m at a job.”
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he concluded.”
Ohio Artist James Young | Artist Q&A
Your love for Ohio landscapes comes through in your work. What do you think makes our farms and fields so special?
I think anytime an artist is portraying an endangered subject; it introduces a sense of urgency. The farms that I paint are disappearing, and those views that I grew up expecting always to have, are now gone. Land conservancies are saving physical properties, but the working farms, with all of the outbuildings and equipment, are becoming obsolete. The settlers who came to the Midwest were farmers, and I think those roots define Ohio factors. I hope that my paintings will be a reference to our state’s history far in the future.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
I once had a well-known painter tell me to stop when I think a painting is 75% finished. As a result, I have held onto that piece of advice and continue to remember it today. Most of my failed paintings are a result of overworking.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
In my spare time, I like to follow my hobby of skeet shooting.
“Red’s Hill Top” | James Young | Private Collection
Ohio Artist James Young | Artist Statement
My subject is endangered. The vast open spaces and farmlands that inhabit my paintings are disappearing at an alarming rate. Therefore, to create my unique imagery, I draw upon my experiences living and working in the Midwest’s agricultural valleys. An appreciation of open space, contrasted with my obsession with early architecture, drives me to find old barns and rural farmhouses to include in my work.
My working methods involve collecting my subject matter, reinterpreting it, and creating a reminiscent scene of a time or place. For instance, the creative process begins with a view that grabs my attention. Next is a quick sketch in Sharpie marker to capture value and light source, followed by a loose color study in watercolor or oil on paper. Additionally, a digital photo captures details for future reference. Most paintings are created using multiple views from different sources.
I paint mostly on wood panels or canvas, depending on the scale of the work.