It's hard to imagine a first-grader challenging his classmates to drawing contests to see who can draw the best motorcycle, but this scene sets the stage of James Fleeson's youth while giving foresight as to how his future would unfold. Art has always been a part of Fleeson's life, so it only seems fitting that in the years immediately following those innocent childhood contests, and ever since, he has entered his artwork in shows. This lifelong competitive spirit may be part of an underlying force that pushes him to continue developing his art at a high level, wherein he constantly pushes his own boundaries and in turn challenges his personal artistic evolution.
Although he now lives in Lexington, Ohio, James was born just north of Pittsburgh, PA. He grew up in Jackson, Michigan where he attended the Jackson Area Career Center for Commercial Art while in high school. He was offered a full five-year scholarship to attend Lawrence Tech for a degree in Architecture but left after just one year to pursue a greater passion—a career in Computer Science, which eventually led him to the DC area.
Despite the shifts in his career paths, Fleeson has always created art and in many mediums including pencil, pastels, and watercolor, but it wasn't until 11 years ago that he decided he wanted to paint in oil to take advantage of the deep colors it provided. And after two years of researching the science of painting with oil, he did his first painting.
"Today oil is my main medium, and life is my subject," James says. "I like to tell stories with my paintings, to shine a light on everyday scenes that people miss and show the beauty all around us. I once read, 'An artist's job is to document their life.' I hope to live up to that statement by painting what isn't seen."
Written by Benjamin Cominsky
Color of Night
Mansfield Art Center
July 24 - Sept 4, 2020
Solo exhibit - examines light's invasion of the darkest places and how it illuminates and reflects off everyday street scenes.
Small Town Ohio
The Phoenix Brewing Company
Nov 2020 - Feb, 2021
Solo exhibit - paintings of Mansfield Ohio.