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BLOG: roc-art blog ; VIDEO: NBC today show clip; ARCHIVES

detail of Curve 1, 12" x 28"
(click on image to enlarge).

FALL 2012 FEATURES: (click to link)



2012 Phoenix, Aspen, the Dorsey Blog
2011 Ithaca, Brooklyn, Out of Bounds Interview
2010 ROC-ART Tour
2009 Boston, China, Rome
2008 IAP Tour & Today Show
2007 IAP New England Tour


Back in June, the Great Lakes Review (GLR) offered to pay for my gas if I'd do an Itinerant Artist Project tour through the Great Lakes region. The catch was that I'd have to write something about my experiences for the GLR. That sounded more like an opportunity than a catch, so I agreed.

This will be a two-part tour. Part 1 of the Rust Belt road trip gets under way in late Oct. 2012, about a week after publication of the GLR fall issue - which introduces the tour with an interview by Ani DiFranco. We're hoping that GLR readers will participate by offering to host me, but hosting is open to anyone. If you're interested, check out the info below, and my web page about being a host.

Part 2 will take place in the spring, with dates to be determined. During both parts, I will be available to give presentations about the Itinerant Artist Project at area colleges and universities, as well as other schools and art centers. Check here for more info on presentations.

The Great Lakes Tour represents a number of firsts for the Itinerant Artist Project (IAP). It's the first tour to have a sponsor. It will be the first tour I write about outside my websites. And although I've traded paintings for hospitality in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, this will be the first actual IAP tour to include Canada.

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When I launched the Itinerant Artist Project in the spring of 2000, I didn't imagine it going much beyond the initial 2½ month road trip. Twelve years and fourteen tours later, I'm still traveling around the US - and now Canada - "exchanging art for hospitality." And some people are still having trouble with the name.

American Road Artist is now the official alternate name for the IAP. It more immediately conveys that I'm doing this solo, not directing a small army of traveling painters, as some people have thought. It gets around the problem of other people not knowing what "itinerant" means. It's probably a useful identity for talks and workshops. And it will be a good title if I write a book about the project.


I'm looking for hosts in Great Lakes cities and places in between, both for the fall 2012 and spring 2013 portions of the Great Lakes/Rust Belt tour. If you might be interested, please contact me at: jim @ jimmott . com. If you know someone who might want to host, please refer them to this website.

Click here to learn more about being a host.


During the tour I'll be available to give presentations about the Itinerant Artist Project at Great Lakes are colleges and other venues. For more information, or to schedule a presentation, contact me.


Lately I've been reconnecting with the joys of sketching. Walking around sketching is the best way I know to explore a new place - or even an overly familiar place - and establish a sense of belonging, a grasp of what's there. Plus it's great practice for more formal drawing or painting with almost none of the pressure.

Sketching has been especially useful and fun in Memphis, my home away from home, where my wife works. It's a city and a region I didn't take to immediately. But now I'm quite fond of both Memphis and the general vicinity (see Highway 61 notes, below). I still haven't been to Graceland, but I've found what I need in the cottonwoods by the river, the span of the bridges, the relaxed play of sunlight and shade through run-down neighborhoods, and so on. Sketching, I think, expresses, while endlessly extending, fond interest.

Lately I've been sketching in ballpoint pen on the lined pages of Composition notebooks. Not very elegant but effectively casual.

I was lucky to hear about a sketching group in Memphis that meets once a month - and luckier still to be there for two consecutive sketch sessions. The first was at the farmers' market, the second in a historic district, Victorian Village. In both cases I wandered off to find different subject matter, but it was nice to have other sketchers on hand, generating a collective aura of charged purpose.

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This past September my cousin Ani kindly agreed to be on the other side of the microphone, so to speak, for the interview in the Great Lakes Review introducing my upcoming tour. Ani's folksinger life had provided one of the key inspirations behind the Itinerant Artist Project, when I was developing the idea in the 1990s. And she was one of my hosts in Buffalo, NY, on my first art tour, in 2000.

The full interview appears in the fall 2012 issue of the GLR. Click here for an INTERVIEW EXCERPT.

Two versions of the Hwy 61 crossing (click on images to enlarge).


When I first heard Bob Dylan's album Highway 61 Revisited it was around 1970, and I was 10. The songs conjured up an edgy, surreal world that didn't make a lot of sense to me, but it was compelling enough that I memorized most of the words.

I later heard about the real Highway 61, the Blues Highway, the Crossroads. It started to feel as mythical as anything one might encounter in the American landscape. I felt a certain spine-tingling delight, then, when I found myself in east Arkansas last March, in the middle of nowhere (a term I use with reverence in this case), staring at a road sign with a 61 on it.

Sonja and I were on a literary research field trip to see a place called Luxora, which seemed to consist of a few buildings, some small houses, a gas station, a water tower, some pickup trucks, and lots of big empty fields. Clouds were beginning to pile up ominously. A dark, dead tree stood watch over the crossroads. I sketched and took photos and did a little painting. Later, for the Gamblin Torrit Grey contest, I re-did the scene on canvas, in monochrome.

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I've been enjoying Dave Dorsey's art blog, Represent, so I wanted to give it another plug. And since he just completed a heroic effort completing several large paintings for a new show, I wanted to mention that, as well (I'll post a link when he sends me one).

Of course anyone who has noticed his flattering quote on my home page or read the blog entry whence it came will know that I have good reason to be partial to Dave's writing. However, I was impressed by his balanced view of art and thoughtful thinking before he wrote about my project...


If you click on the photo at left and then squint at the image that pops up, you might get the effect of dappled light in a forest. I wanted a painting that was balanced between abstract marks and representation of structures in space, between a blank gray minimalist rectangle and a resolved scene.

This was one of several exploratory paintings I had the chance to work on during a summer month in residence at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. After more than 12 years of focusing most of my creative energy on the Itinerant Artist Project and sticking to very small panel paintings done mostly on my lap, it was very nice to have a real studio, and time to allow other possibilities to well up. The company of congenial artists and writers - and a cook - were among the other great benefits.

One of the more whimsical directions I pursued for a while was a set of Nature Notes. The Saltonstall Colony is a rural retreat, with access to a few hundred acres of woods and fields. The one time I'd been there before, I seemed to spend most of my time walking, identifying plants, fungi, birds, and other creatures. This time I was tempted to do the same but used the Nature Notes to push myself back toward art-making. Only a few got done before the studio painting kicked in.

My previous residency at Saltonstall had been in 1996. And although I didn't seem to get much art done that time, it is where I started to think up the Itinerant Artist Project. In fact it was one of the most rich an important months of my life. I wrote a little bit more about it for the foundation website: here.

Description: Jim Mott Fine Art : landscape paintings(back to top), prints, greeting cards, commissions and sales;
also support site for the Itinerant Artist Project: traveling the USA and Canada, exchanging art for hospitality.

Keywords: Jim Mott, landscape painter, Itinerant Artist Project, landscape painting commissions, fine art prints, giclee prints, g