James Nyika | Artist Profile Photo
James Nyika
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Artist James Nyika paints the glowing atmosphere of cities across the world. As a child growing up in Kenya, he found art materials at the student bookshop and also borrowed just about every art history volume from the British Council library in Nairobi. I checked out the same books over and over just to stare at the art, to try and understand how it was created, says James. With family encouragement to study engineering, James moved to the U.S. and immersed himself in science studies at Boston University. Several years after embarking on a tech career, he set a goal to create at least one painting a week, never throwing away any works and learning as much as possible in his off hours. Today, James still balances his full-time career designing large software systems with his prolific output as a painter. Painting is a great antidote to the regularity of a computing profession and I really value it for the uncertainty that it brings - something frowned upon when writing code.
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Artist Statement

I am a watercolor artist deeply passionate about elevating the medium's presence alongside oil and mixed media in the art world. The transparent and interactive nature of watercolor, with its magical and glowing qualities, brings me immense joy in creating. Inspired by the original impressionist belief in the worthiness of everyday subjects, I channel this philosophy in my work. In 2013, my exploration of watercolor led me to artists like Alvaro Castagnet and Joseph Zbukvic, whose imperfections in their artwork fascinated me. Determined to learn their techniques, I committed to painting at least once a week, preserving every piece, and delving into training videos by these masters. My primary source material is drawn from personal experiences, reference photos, and vivid memories from my travels. My representational, alla prima style aims to capture a moment in time, emphasizing mood, atmosphere, and the unique qualities of watercolor. I focus on creating a central thesis in each painting, ensuring the viewer discovers something new with every glance. Using only top-quality professional paints and paper, my materials include lightfast and highly pigmented watercolors, various brands such as Mijello, Sennelier, Daniel Smith, and 300 GSM rough grain cotton rag paper from Arches, Saunders Waterford, and Fabriano, among others. My brush selection ranges from mops for large areas to stiffer brushes and Neptune brushes for delicate finishings. Over the years, I've honed a representational style influenced by newer artists like Andy Evansen, Keiko Tanabe, and John Salminen. Excited by the emerging possibilities for artists of diverse backgrounds, including African and African-American creators, I am dedicated to contributing to the evolving gem that is watercolor art.


BoldBrush Painting Competition Winners (August 2020)
Outstanding Watercolor
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