Jim Otis

Jim won First Place in the 2012 Artivita International Art Competition, in Santa Barbara, California

about the artist
gallery: Magical Realism
gallery: Landscapes
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To experiment and explore... that is the true joy in the creative process. I don’t think a painting formula that works commercially again and again is true Art. I am not one to stand still on this journey to learn; I am a seeker. My style is personal, Places I have been... people I have known... experiences my eyes have seen... and how I translate it though creativity.

When I work I use color to drawn the viewer into my world. Everyone perceives a painting differently, as their own eyes view it, and draw their own unique feelings and conclusions. My paintings entice the senses to explore beyond what their eyes tell them.

I was blessed with a “Tom Sawyer” childhood in Central Wisconsin’s lake country as my playground. While adventuring and exploring amongst the “North Woods”, I witnessed a competition for natural resources between farmland, paper mills, and recreation areas. It became evident to me that harmony between man and nature relied solely at the whim of man’s responsibility.

Forty-four years ago, I made the move west, and found my new home among California’s central coast and inland scenery. These mountains and beaches provide me with a gentle beauty and respite with my thoughts. As I paint these places, I want to impart that moment, that first impression of the Awe of Nature, which fills our souls. When people view my paintings, I hope they see the same gentle beauty, and become the quiet guardians of our Nature, preserving it for all to enjoy.

When I work, I use color to draw in the viewer... to help them feel what I have seen. Everyone perceives a piece of art differently, and draws unique conclusions and interpretations from the same scene. My paintings entice the senses to explore beyond what their eyes tell them. I want my art to evoke a new perception of “what is always there.” The consciousness of color, and my passions to create illusion.

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about the artist

My work is not merely to decorate a wall;
Rather to absorb the viewer in visual
Phenomenon, and view with a gaze of
Vernal openness, to look with new eyes.

Born in Wisconsin, Jim started etching his marks at a early age. “I remember my earliest artistic attempts. I had an orange crayon, tracing ‘shadow’ faces on my walls while standing in my crib. I might have been two years old. My parents weren’t too pleased with my self-portrait. But as I grew older, everyone around me supported my drives, and encouraged my talent for art.” Jim first attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee in 1964, and was initially enrolled in Illustration and Advertising. “My Father wanted a more practical goal for me other than fine artist.” Jim had influences from some famous his painter/teachers; Edmund Lewandowski (1914-1998) American “precisionist” painter, and noted painter Robert Von Neumann (American 1888-1976). Layton at that time was widely known for innovative teaching styles.

Seeking a more fine-art direction, he then attended Minneapolis School of Art in 1966, a broader base for painting style and technique. While there, Jim had a guest instructor named Christo Javacheff, Later known as Christo, the famous Installation artist. He wasn’t famous then. He was new, and became an art school teacher, known for Marin county’s “California Running Fence” in 1982, and New York’s Central Park “Gates” in 2005. For the semester project at Minneapolis, Christo had 200 art students walk into a huge weather balloon and the event are described as follows in his biography: 42,390 Cubic feet Package October 1966 at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis School of Art. Length: 18 meters (60 feet) Polyethylene: 720 square meters (8,000 square feet). Manila rope: 914 meters (3,000 feet) Duration: Three days. He taught an “open” class called Constructions and Installation Art for the Semester.

Jim learned from Christo’s boldness in the face of ridicule, to create what your “art energy” wants.

He had always sold paintings to supplement his art school education. He came west to California in 1968. He was always, from very early on, attracted to landscapes in the American West, even before he had ever seen the West. He launched a successful career in graphics, while selling his paintings throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Jim was part of the movement on the West Coast, of the “Visionary Style” in the late 60’s and 70’s. and worked a large volume of fantasy landscapes Jim had won competitions, was in juried shows, fairs, and galleries from San Francisco to Monterey/Carmel.

As the economics of the artist life style were challenging, he took a job with a growing family to support. He went to work in the fire service. Because of his artistic background, attention to detail, Jim became a cartographer, and helped to implement the 911 system in California in 1976. He drew fire response maps, and also illustrated children’s fire safety materials and books. He found himself enjoying this job and its benefits to everyone around him. He became a paid firefighter in 1978. “My experience in the Fire Service, affecting people, has enriched his perspectives of Life, Nature, and Passion. As his career was coming to a milestone ending, and as retirement approached, he begin anew to feed his drives, and re-entered art in 1998. He started with watercolors, as they were easy for him to refresh himself, but since 2002, he’s been painting as he had since art school. in oils.

“I have drawn my inspirations from Early Chinese landscapes; from the Romanticism period, and the American Hudson River School, French Impressionism, and Seurat with his pointillism, the Early Californian Plein Air movement. Georgia O’Keeffe and Maynard Dixon, and their sense of place with a pioneer spirit, of the Great American Southwest. And of course, Salvador Dali, the most impressive influential artist for me. One important contemporary master is Eyvind Earle, and his modern pointillism.

“My paintings entice the senses to explore beyond what their eyes tell them. I want my art to evoke a new perception of what is always there, the consciousness of color, and my passion to create the illusion.” Jim maintains a studio in Aptos, California, on Monterey Bay, and has found his “art energy”.


  • Selected Exhibitions
  • 2012, Red Dot Art Fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, Florida, December
  • 2012, First Place, Artivita International Art Competition, October, WWAB, Santa Barbara, California
  • 2012, Rogue Galleries, Chelsea, New York, New York, “Broken Boundaries” Art in Focus Group show, January
  • 2011, Cabrillo Gallery, Juried, “Tasty, Artists play with food”, Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA, October
  • 2011, Juried Member Show, Santa Cruz Art League, February
  • 2010, Monterey Miniature Show (most requested artist status)
  • 2010, Contemporary Artists show, Artist’s Alley Gallery, SOMA, San Francisco, CA., May though August.
  • 2009, Marin County Museum of Contemporary Art,Novato, CA. “Dreams and Revelations”, juried by Philip Linhares, Oakland, Museum of California.
  • 2009, Contemporary Artists show — Gallery 2611, Redwood City, CA. June through August
  • 2007, National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, CA. “My California, People and Portals”, Juried by Scott Schields, Chief Curator, Crocker State Museum, Sacramento, CA.
  • 2005, National Steinbeck Center ,Salinas, California “My California, Visions of the golden State”, Juried exhibition by Nathan Oliveria, Art icon.


  • Gardening with Children, Dunks, 1976, Cover and illustrations
  • 2011 American Talent Magazine, May 2011, Featured article on my art
  • 2011 International Contemporary Masters, Volume IV, group art book, Turberg, World wide art books, Santa Barbara, California
  • 2012 Best of Artists’ World Oil, Volume 2, Art book, Kennedy Publishing, West Virginia
  • 2012 International Contemporary Masters, Volume V, group art book, Turberg, World wide art books, Santa Barbara, California
  • 2012 Art in Focus, book to follow New York show, Rogue galleries, Chelsea
  • 2013 International Contemporary Masters, Volume VI, group art book, Turberg, World wide art books, Santa Barbara, California

Magical Realism

Click on any of the thumbs to see a larger image, then click to the left or right to step through images, or click outside the image to close.


Click on any of the thumbs to see a larger image, then click to the left or right to step through images, or click outside the image to close.

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