James McGrew

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

James McGrew

United States

James McGrew’s lifelong passion for painting our western national parks began when he first backpacked in Yosemite at just four months old.  Subsequent family camping/backpacking trips inspired an early interest in art and nature as he was constantly drawing and painting.  He began using pastels at age 8 and his father's oils at 10.  Today, he is best known for his oil paintings interpreting western national parks, especially Yosemite.  A strong background in natural sciences (degrees in biology, chemistry and geology and grad work for a M.S. in Environmental Ed) help James understand his subjects as well as to carry on the tradition of 19th century artists whose images helped to establish the first national parks.  He also lends his art background to his work as a summer seasonal Yosemite interpretive park ranger as he has for the past 23 summers.


James prefers to paint direct from life and often works up to about 30x40 en plein air.  However,  he creates his most refined and largest paintings in the studio from his plein air references. He hikes or backpacks several hundred miles a year, often looking for unique perspectives and a deeper connection with nature.  He works to create paintings which not only visually portray a scene, but convey the emotions of the actual experience.  Although most inspired by a combination of Romanticism and Impressionism, McGrew paints with a style that is largely self taught and uniquely his own.  


McGrew’s paintings hang in collections around the world and have shown in many solo shows, national and international exhibitions and plein air invitationals, receiving numerous awards including best of show and five consecutive people’s choice awards at Grand Canyon Celebration of Art as well as  four consecutive at the Zion Invitational, and Best of Show, Collector's Choice and and three consecutive Honor Hawaii/Honor Maui Awards at Maui Plein Air Invitational.  His work has been featured in articles of Fine Art Connoisseur, Plein Air Magazine, Southwest Art, and Western Art Collector.  He has presented as a keynote speaker at numerous art and science conferences and presented at The Plein Air Convention, 2015.  He is an Out of State Artist Member of the California Art Club and a signature member of both the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and the American Impressionist Society. 

* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 15th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.