Renowned for his equine oils and watercolors, James Crow has painted professionally since 1956. But it wasn’t until he moved to Kentucky in 1979 at the urging of his wife Molly (an accomplished American Saddlebred breeder and trainer) that his focus shifted in that direction. The change proved to be as emotionally rewarding as it was financially successful. Now, James can look back on 27 years and a body of work that has transcended the equine spirit in fine art.
artistic careerHe began his career as an abstract expressionist specializing in acrylics, pen and ink and charcoals. Later, he embraced watercolors when he joined the American Greeting Card Company as an illustrator. James has always had an affinity with nature and during that period was a “plein-air” artist - one who paints outdoors. While he now takes his ideas back to the studio, he still derives inspiration from the natural world. “I carry my camera with me wherever I go because I never know when I might find the magic in a moment,” he says. “As a racing and [horse] show fan myself, I’m drawn to painting from that perspective. I also like to capture the feeling of activity around me.”
Mr. Crow had developed a commission-based clientele within the Saddlebred community before he began painting horses exclusively. James’ work has since expanded to include Thoroughbred and Standardbred track scenes, shows and landscapes. He contends, “All painting shares the same properties of color, light and composition. In my abstract paintings, I concentrated on my concepts of life, the universe and music. Now, as a painter of the horse world, I concentrate on their life energy and the play of light on them and their surroundings.” Evident in his use of light, James’ erudite use of both oil and watercolor creates a dramatic effect that has become the hallmark of his collection.
artistic successConsidered to be “romantic” in style, his images have been published in the acclaimed Art of the Horse and Racing in Art by John Fairley. In addition, his painting, Summer Shower was purchased by the Marchioness of Tavistock and is on permanent display at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, England. Other paintings and prints hang in private homes worldwide, including that of Wayne Newton, Brown and Forman Distillaries, Star World of Arabians, and the American Saddlebred Horse Museum. His work has been exhibited at the International Museum of the Horse, Churchill Downs, Headley Whitney Museum and the American Academy of Equine Art, to name a few.
Currently, James enjoys Director of Painting status at the Kentucky Horse Park’s American Academy of Equine Art. The Acedemy was founded in the mid-1980’s by such notables as Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ sister, Princess Lee Raziwell, the celebrated painters, Richard Stone Reeves, Sam Savitt, and Jean Bowman along with the eminent Marilyn Newmark, sculptor.