James Groleau began his artistic life in the drawing medium, but soon found his true calling in the art of mezzotint. After taking a printmaking course at the City College in San Francisco to learn his way around a printing press, he started experimenting with a style of aquatint called faux mezzotint, where the aquatint plate is darkened and burnished to create the image. Not completely satisfied with this process, he began reading Carol Wax's The Mezzotint: History and Technique to learn on his own. Through trial and error, James found that the complete tonality of the mezzotint image was exactly what he was looking for, and he was hooked. James has gone on to create stunningly complex suites of powerful images where every detail is carefully considered.
James' inspiration flows in a series format, and he works best within the contrains he sets for himself. His "From Salt Granite Spruce" series draws heavily upon the Arts and Crafts era. These beautiful landscapes were created as an homage to his native Main. James spent time sketching the rugged cliffside landscapes and making notes on location and then filling in his plates from memories and impressions. He decided to use a color palate reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts movement, with lots of greys, greens and ochres over a mustard chine colle paper.
James' most recent series was inspired by his travels to India in 2008. He has created a beautiful suite of 21 portraits of children he met. Each is printed in brown inks and hand-colored with a mixture of pigments and wax. They are numbered as EV (edition verite) prints, which means that each is uniquely hand-colored. This technique gives the intimately small images a vibrant glow, much like exotic fabrics and spices of India. To me, the most stunning aspect of this series is how so many of the children's faces appear to look straight at you. James has once again proven his skill and talent with these masterful mezzotints.
James is also drawn to the psychological when he considers his work. Some of his pieces can be extremely evocative, dealing with issues of war and survival. Part of his unfinished Case Number Series, the above Case No. 266 explores mental illness, as well as the issues of balance and suspension. Portraiture has also proven to be a source of inspiration, which is evident in the contours of the faces his reveals.
With so many intriguing prints to his portfolio, it's impossible to pick just a few to highlight. See the rest of James Groleau's imaginative works on our website, or come in to see them in person!
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