Hi! My name is Jim, and I am slightly obsessed with pencil drawing. Sometimes I think I am possibly possessed because I am typically gripped by an idea for a piece, and the only relief is to “exorcise” the idea by using pencils to bring it into reality.
I love photorealism for the challenge of capturing all of the subtle details that reveal the distinct personalities of the subjects. I have a theory that a visual artist is a kind of illusionist, and there is something magical about using mere pencil and paper to fool our brains into seeing what it thinks is a photograph. For that reason I also love hyperrealistic drawings, creating images and adding effects that our brains know can’t exist but are coerced into seeing as reality. While my artwork may not be for everybody, most people appreciate the technical side of it and enjoy how I add a little bit extra to my pieces, whether that’s humour, darkness, an underlying message, or a visual effect.
My biggest passion is to create my own reference images and infuse my work with a subtle theme. Sometimes it’s dark or philosophical, sometimes light and humourous (why should cartoonists have all the fun?) However, I also fell in love with working on commissions for those who have honoured me by requesting a customized piece. Very few things are as rewarding as when I see a client getting lost in a drawing’s details, and sharing in the magic of creating something meaningful to them or their loved ones. It’s also not uncommon that the reveal of a commission is accompanied by a few tears (the good kind! See testimony below…)
Born, raised, and living in Alberta, Canada, I almost literally stumbled into this drawing endeavour, although “limped” is more accurate: a hip surgery in 2013 had me step back from an active sports life and rediscover my childhood love of shading with pencils. I can be found from time to time at pop up markets in southern Alberta, so be sure to follow along on social media to receive updates about those events. I was also honoured to join the Pigeon Lake Artists Society in 2022, so you may see me at events around the lake!
Thanks for taking the time to visit me here, I sincerely appreciate it, and hope to hear from you soon!
One of the first questions I’m most often asked is “How much?” The short answer is always “It depends…” because it does depend on a number of things. However, to give you an idea of your investment right off the bat, here are some rough estimates for a graphite (grayscale) drawing:
5×7 inches: $300
7×10 inches: $600
10×14 inches: $1,200
14×20 inches: $2,500
If you haven’t been scared off yet, I’ll explain further… Size is an obvious factor, but so is time. Presumably you’re interested in my drawing style because of the photorealism and level of detail, and the fact of the matter is that I’m producing these images with pencils. This simply takes a lot of time and patience.
Another factor is the image you’re interested in itself, which affects the time required. Will the image require preparation time and editing before starting, or is it already a professional quality photo? Does it warrant having a fully detailed background, or look better with a plain white surrounding? Are there a lot of intricate details to capture, like your Uncle Moe’s ugly Christmas sweater? If it’s a portrait, are there multiple subjects to be drawn? These all factor into the estimate, so those numbers above may adjust up or down accordingly.
Framing is another consideration. If you’d like me to have the drawing professionally framed, I’d be happy to have that done, but this also adds to the cost. The prices above do not include framing. For a small drawing, framing may only cost $50. For the largest drawing I have ever done (24″x18″), the framing alone cost $500. With pencil work the drawings need to be protected under glass, which is a notable factor in the framing cost. You’re also welcome to just get the drawing done by me, and handle the framing on your own, because individual tastes and decor always vary.
Okay that was a lot to cover! If you’re still interested, I would love to hear what idea you have in mind. The best way to proceed would be to send me an email and attach a photo or several if possible – the more the merrier – along with your idea for the project. I recommend people imagine where the piece may end up living to help decide on the size: keep in mind framing and mat spacing. Another tip is to convert the image to black and white to preview what it might look like drawn in graphite (i.e. grayscale). My personal bias is that it be a high-quality photo so we can see the details (it’s why you’re hiring me!), that it has nice lighting, and that none of the desired subject matter is cropped out: I can’t draw what I can’t see! I’ll then make a digital mock-up of a potential reference image to use, and we won’t proceed until we’re both excited about it.
Thanks for taking the time to digest this information, and I look forward to hearing from you!
“So many tears, Jim, so many. I can’t even begin to put to words how grateful I am for this precious gift. I keep walking past it and welling up with tears of joy. (My husband) and I keep finding reasons to walk past it, then we steal emotional glances at each other. Our journey has been unbelievable to this point, and this image is a continual reminder of how it started and how we still have so much to look forward to, even after these 10 years. You brought to life a very special moment for us. Thank you! Your talent is truly amazing. This image will hang on our wall in our home and I will get to be reminded daily of what I am grateful for. Years from now our children will look at this image and be amazed at the talent behind it, and be reminded of the love their parents had for each other and they too will cherish it.” – D.G., Dec 2022
Awards and Recognition
– ‘Best in Section’ for Drawings at the 2023 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase
– ‘Best of Show’ in the Colors of Humanity Art Gallery 2023 ‘Red’ Show
– Selected as a finalist in the ‘The 49th International Artavita Artist of the Year’ online contest in December 2021
– Selected as contributor to ‘World Wide Art Magazine #6’, published in 2021
– Selected as contributor to ‘The Best of Drawing: 11th Annual Strokes of Genius Competition Winners’, Artists Magazine Winter 2020 special issue
– ‘First in Class’ for Drawings at the 2019 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase
– ‘Best in Section’ for Drawings at the 2018 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase
– ‘First Place’ in the Colors of Humanity Art Gallery 2018 ‘Black and White’ Show
– 2nd place in the Federation of Canadian Artists 2017 ‘Limitless’ Online Exhibition and Competition
– ‘Best in Section’ for Drawings at the 2017 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase
– ‘Best of Show’ in the Colors of Humanity Art Gallery 2017 ‘Black and White’ Show
– 3rd place in the Federation of Canadian Artists 2016 ‘Limitless’ Online Exhibition and Competition
– Selected as contributor to ‘Strokes of Genius 8: Expressive Texture’, published by North Light Books in 2016