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Abandoned workboat watercolor by James Iams

James Iams has been painting the bays, backwaters, creeks and coves of Maryland’s Eastern Shore for more than 60 years. “Abandoned Workboat,” a 12-by-16-inch watercolor, blends the knowledge of a sailor and the eye of a painter in the subtle shades used to depict the wintry gray sky and the pale, decaying workboat beached on the brown marsh.

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Born in Pennsylvania, Iams got his first sight of Chesapeake Bay in 1950 while in the Army. When he finished his service in 1952, he headed back there to settle down, intrigued by its natural beauty, its varied craft and its watermen. With a degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and graduate degrees from Penn State and the Maryland Institute College of Art, he launched his career as an art teacher, working with high school and community college students. “I also began driving up and down the Eastern Shore, painting,” Iams recalls. “Early on, I sold some paintings to a local gallery, and that started me off.”

He also found his chosen medium. “I always liked the watercolors,” he says. “It’s a nice medium, fresh and clean.” He is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society and a member of the American Society of Marine Artists and the Baltimore Watercolor Society.

Iams is 87 and now lives in a senior center in Timonium, Maryland — and, of course, he teaches art there. “My bedroom is my studio,” he says. “It’s really pretty good. It’s on the fourth floor and gets north light.” He pauses, then says with a laugh, “As long as I can still put a brush to paper, I will keep on painting.”

To view this and other works by James Iams, visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut.

January 2015 issue