James has always loved being outside ever since he was a kid. He considers himself a landscape painter, or a documentary painter, with no set plan on imagery in terms of who, where, why, what. More on that below… He’s trained in intaglio printmaking and graphic design technically and has worked professionally as a graphic designer in NYC. He’s been drawing since he can remember and has no formal training in painting. Most of his imagery comes from snowboarding or hiking trips to the mountains in the Western part of the US. Surfin’ on some pow may be one of the greatest feelings for James, not to mention the impressions left by the insurmountable beauty found in the mountains flying by.

James is from St. Paul, MN and currently resides in Minneapolis. He’s represented by Gallery Mar, Park City, UT and has been exhibiting in juried shows since 2001. James has work on permanent display in Denver Children’s Hospital as well as the MN Vikings football stadium downtown Minneapolis, where he lives and works.

A review written by Victoria Kennedy, Fine Art Consultant, Gallery Mar, Park City, UT:

“The brevity and stillness of Penfield’s work often reminds me of moments in time. Brief moments that we try and remember – an image that we try and capture within our minds and memories. And yet here they are on a canvas.

The stripped down memory of a place, the feel of it in your senses – the simple beauty of colors and lines is what attracts me to Penfield’s work. It is a peacefulness that we rarely encounter in modern art. With Penfield, this chaos is stripped away, until we are left with suggestions and imitations of the form’s true essence.”

“Photography is nature seen from the eyes outwards. Painting is nature seen from the eyes inwards.” -Charles Sheeler

For Penfield its a way of finding truth. In a sense, homogenizing energy (light (color), matter, etc.) and allowing it to be interpreted clearly in various ways through recognizable and some unrecognizable imagery, to translate the translation process we are constantly doing.

Penfield was involved in a serious head on collision when he was 16, resulting in a 3 day coma. After a full recovery, he felt a new lease on life had been given to him and so he went off to Colorado when he was 18 for college. Returning to Minnesota, Penfield attended Hamline University where he studied fine arts and received a BA in Art History, however he still made plenty of trips out west to snowboard in the meantime..

Due to his success in his undergraduate career, James was awarded two travel scholarships to study art in Europe for a month from the art department. Catching DJ Spooky create a live soundtrack to a silent black and white movie at the Tate Modern in London  was a highlight.

James started music branding and design here around 2006, working with friends and friends of friend’s who played around in Minneapolis. His interest in graphic arts from there led him to intern with Vice Media LLC in Brooklyn, NY in 2010 while attending Parsons the New School so that he could live/work in NYC. There he was able to work alongside international teams of creatives, making work for Vice’s many media channels and graphics for companies including Converse. He freelanced with design in NYC afterward and then came back to Minneapolis to pursue his painting career. James has lived and worked in CO, MN, NY and CA. He likes to keep up to date on news about physics, cosmology and the universe, and implements aspects of this into his work, thinking about it like a collective growth of information we can relate to and inspire each other with. Growing up he was highly influenced by the work of Doze Green, the Russian Constructivists, Joseph Albers, John Cage, Basquiat, Kim Cogan, etc etc.

Besides painting, Penfield loves illustration and design and has illustrated 6 “How to Draw” books including 240 drawings total, released into elementary schools and available on Amazon in early 2015 through Abdo Publishing, teaching kids techniques on how to start their own art careers.


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