Scenes from the North

Landscape exhibit features Juneau artist Jim Fowler

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2001

Juneau artist Jim Fowler hit the road last summer to paint the rolling expanses of the Yukon Territory and the vistas of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

"New Landscapes," an exhibit of 18 recent paintings by Fowler, will be displayed at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery this month. The exhibit opens Friday with a reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the gallery at 206 North Franklin St.

Fowler made three trips to Canada, capturing summer in the Richardson Mountains and fall colors in the Yukon. He drove the Dempster Highway all the way to Inuvik, taking his palette, brushes and easel north of the Arctic Circle. He battled bloodthirsty bugs and summer snowstorms to paint in the Ogilvie Mountains between Dawson and Fort McPherson.

Fowler isn't looking for photorealism in his artwork. When he paints a landscape he strives to capture the atmosphere, an elusive quality.


"You could go back day after day and paint the same place, and if you capture the atmosphere, you pretty much have a different painting every day," he said.

Fowler has concentrated on landscape painting since he retired

several years ago as a graphic artist for the state. He also works as an illustrator and has created artwork for a number of children's books, including several by his wife, Suzi Fowler. His paintings have been exhibited at the JuneauDouglas City Museum, Portfolio Arts and other galleries in Juneau. His work currently hangs in Valentine's Coffee House and Franklin Street Barbers.

"I like captive audiences," he said laughing.

Fowler uses acrylics and works quickly when he paints. He starts by coating a full- or half-sheet of watercolor paper with an orangered or a yellowochre undercoat and a clear gloss glaze that creates a slick surface. The warm colors underlie the painting. It's a technique that is well-suited to his usual subject the landscapes of Southeast Alaska.

"The colors in Southeast are so cool generally, if you let these warm grounds come through in the brush strokes, you get a little vibrancy with the warm undercoat," he said. "It's a nice visual effect."

He said he has a few paintings of Southeast Alaska in the show as well. His paintings, when matted and framed, are about 30 by 38 inches or 23 by 30 inches.

Fowler said his work has evolved somewhat in recent years.

"The application of the paint has changed a bit," he said. "It's a little smoother, the transitions are smoother from color to color. The colors are more subtle, and in some respects I think the colors are more complex."

Fowler will be at the reception Friday night. His show will be on display through Nov. 30.


Riley Woodford can be reached at

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