James McGrew

James McGrew first backpacked in Yosemite at just four months old and 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. A strong background in natural sciences (degrees in biology, chemistry, and geology and MS grad work in Environmental Ed) help James understand his natural subjects as well as carry on the tradition of 19th century artists whose images helped to establish the first national parks. McGrew is passionate about nature and continuing the historic artist's legacy with his own artwork. He also lends his art background to his work as a summr seasonal Yosemite naturalist as he has for the past 21 summers.

James prefers to paint direct from life and often works "en plein air", painting up to 30" x 40". However, he creates his most refined and largest paintings in the studio. 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 to convey the emotions of the actual experience. Although 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, national, and international exhibitions and plein air invitationals, receiving many awards. His work has been featured in articles for Fine Art Connoisseur, Plein Air Magazine, Southwest Art, and Western Art Collector. He has presented as a keynote speaker and many art and science conferences and presented at Plein Air Convention, 2015. He is a signature member of both the American Impressionist Society and the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.


"I strive to interpret nature with my brush, not just representing a visual scene, but more importantly, conveying the emotions I felt as I was influenced by the experience including weather, light, movement, and energy. I want the viewer to feel those elements and emotions. I hope my works inspire others to love and protect our natural world and cherish our valuable human interrelationships with each other and the environment."

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