For more than 60 years, James Iams has been casting his artist’s eye around Chesapeake Bay, taking in the sights and spirit of the region’s creeks and rivers, islands and harbors, watermen and boats.
In Waterman’s Shack (a 14½-by-12½-inch watercolor), the artist brings us into the scene to scan the big sky, feel the breeze and hear the cry of the gulls. We sense the strength and dignity of the fishing boat and skiff, the solidity of the wooden pier and the hardy, weathered shacks.
It’s a scene dear to the artist’s heart. “I have been painting the Chesapeake Bay area almost my whole career,” says Iams, who is in his late 80s and lives in Timonium, Maryland. “I like the water. I like the boats. I like the scenery.”
Iams is known for his watercolors and is an admirer of one of the masters of that medium, Winslow Homer. “I always enjoy seeing his things,” the artist says. “The ones that he painted as seascapes and fishermen and so forth are really good.”
In his own works, Iams’ subtle watercolor palette captures the hues of a Chesapeake scene. “I like the watercolors because they’re fresh and clean and easy to take to the field — and I used to paint on location a lot,” he says. “I can’t do that anymore.”
Iams, a member of the American Watercolor Society and the Baltimore Watercolor Society, now works with sketches and his own photographs, developing the final work in a studio. “I paint in more comfort now,” he says.
And his favorite subject remains the Chesapeake. “Once in a while, I have a painting in the showcase here at the retirement home,” Iams says. “People have gotten used to me always having water in my paintings. If it’s not there, people wonder if I am sick.”
To view this and other works by James Iams visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at jrusselljinishiangallery.com or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue.