Light and Vapor: James Faecke

"With watercolor, in particular, light and form are everything."
James Faecke

There are many artists who consider themselves watercolorists but few transform water and pigment into images of arresting familiarity like Jim Faecke. A practitioner of the medium for over 40 years, Faecke (pronounced Fakey) made his career rendering architectural form. Fortunately for us, the CAD tsunami took over that business just as he was ready to retire.

Faecke’s approach to image-making creates paintings in which the artist supplies large forms, light, and masses of color – and we supply the rest. “Detail is in the mind of the viewer,” he has said, and Winter Haystacks, the product of a chilly drive from Madison to Mineral Point one February morning, exemplifies this attitude. After photographing the scene, he retreated to the studio to begin his attack. His careful editing and mastery of neutral color has rendered bright, brittle light falling across mountains of straw. We feel the chill of scumbled earth. It takes some examination to realize that his foreground is the product of “a little drybrush sort-of effect, sideways across the paper … Some of it is pulling the brush up - to give a grass effect, some of it is spatter. There are layers … because that’s what gives you the impression of texture there … a stubbly, mown, hayfield – rather than dirt.”

Winter Haystacks

With his eye for finding the universal in the ordinary combined with his technical prowess, Jim Faecke’s paintings transport us. A quiet creek skirting a pebbled sandbar on a midsummer’s day. An ancient orchard overlaid with the mystery of a master visionary and rendered ‘en plein air.’ The unlimited horizon of Midwestern farmland. Faecke draws us confidently into his space, ready to explore with him the endless possibilities he finds inherent in this, his medium.

Light and Vapor: James Faecke opens Saturday, March 7, 2020, 4pm with a reception for the artist.