“My love for drawing began as a small boy but much later in life grew
from a hobby to a passion for creating hyper-realistic portraits that hopefully convey powerful stories that impact others in a positive way.”
– Jim Fitzpatrick
WAS THERE A PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH AS AN ARTIST?
“My pivotal moment came around 2012 while coaching the San Francisco Bay Bombers, a professional Roller Derby team I had skated with during the 1980s. It was a lot of fun and excitement but much stress, as we had just signed a television deal to air our games.
Seeking a diversion, I got back into drawing portraits, which I loved while growing up. I began cranking out a lot of work at a pretty rapid pace for several weeks. Finally, I noticed I saw noticeable improvements in my style and techniques. I then looked up YouTube video tutorials on drawing and put what I learned into practice, which also helped. That was when I became inspired to pursue art more seriously.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK FOR US?
“I primarily draw realistic portraits with pastels, charcoal, and colored pencils. Sometimes I will add a background by digitally combining one of my photographs with a portrait. Photography is another longtime passion of mine.”
WHEN LOOKING BACK, WHAT PAINTINGS EMERGE FROM YOUR WORKS THAT MOST RELATE TO YOUR LIFE STORY?
“Since I’ve always loved sports and was a professional athlete, I think that it has played a big part in why so many of my portraits are of athletes. Their range of expressions (joy, heartbreak, anger, fear, etc.) I try to capture in my paintings, show the powerful emotions they experience while competing at a top level and what I lived for so many years. I have also drawn several portraits of my wife, one of my all-time favorite models. If I have to spend many days and hours studying and drawing a subject, choosing my beautiful wife is a great choice for me.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG ARTIST FOLLOWING IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?
“The advice I would give to young artists is to avoid negative people. Instead, focus on the positive, enjoy life, keep learning, and keep creating. If you struggle with work, sometimes the best thing to do is step away from it and do something else. Then, later, when you return to it, there is a good chance things will go much better.
Growing up, I was a self-taught artist, and I started looking into online art tutorials about ten years ago. Recently I completed an online hyper-realistic portrait course taught by a famous German artist, Dirk Dzimirsky. Even though I am now in my 60s and coping with chronic pain, I have learned much from that course! It has helped me improve my caliber of work. Remember, it is never too late to learn!”
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK FITS WITHIN SOCIETY IN OUR PRESENT TIMES?
“My portraits cover a wide spectrum of people and nationalities… athletes, singers, actors, common people, family members, etc… Many of them are contemporary while others are from days gone by. I believe people have always been and will forever be interested in people and history. Because of that portraits of individuals created by artists (whether well known or not, living or dead) will always generate at least some interest and spark many to look at the work and ponder what was that subject thinking about and what was going on in their life at the time… Therefore, I feel that portraits will always play a big part in society.”
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK AIM TO SAY?
“My works vary in themes, from light-hearted to tragic. For many, I try and convey a positive message. There have been some subjects I have drawn, like the boxer Mike Tyson and the singer Kesha, where the individuals seem to emit so much more than one emotion in their reference photos. As in both of their cases, for me their eyes show multiple emotions all at the same time, ranging from a deep hurt to a gentleness. As the saying goes, “The eyes of the mirror of the soul,” and my goal is for my works to capture that and “tell” what my subjects really feeling inside at that moment in time.”
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
“My three biggest art influences are Norman Rockwell, Rudolf Zallinger, and Viviana Puello.
Norman Rockwell: As a boy, my mom showed me paintings of Rockwell and I instantly fell in love with his style and became hooked on art.
Rudolf Zallinger: Growing up, I also loved dinosaurs. Zallinger, who painted the iconic “The Age of Reptiles” mural, created the most realistic-looking dinosaurs and settings I have ever seen and forever impacted me.
Viviana Puello: Viviana has to be the most passionate and hard-working artist and entrepreneur I have ever seen. She is also incredibly generous and has inspired and motivated me to not only take my art to another level but has given me fantastic opportunities and platforms to expose my works to an international audience.”
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
“My creative process starts with searching for the right reference images that spark something inside me to want to draw that individual. Usually, I try to keep all my art supplies organized and stored in fancy cigar boxes and multiple sheets of art paper on hand, so I am ready to go when the mood hits.
I usually draw in my “man cave ” computer room, which is also my art studio. Over the years, I’ve typically drawn sitting at my computer, but I recently started drawing standing on an easel due to back and neck issues. I need to listen to music while drawing. My taste in music varies from Neil Diamond to Andrea Bocelli and Marvin Gaye to Park Ki Young. For me, On days that I am not in the mood to draw, I don’t. It’s better to hold off until the mood hits.Using the singer Kesha as an example, I looked up a lot of things on her, including videos. The more I know about my subject, the more I am motivated to draw them and capture who they are. Some portraits are more challenging than others for one reason or another.
Occasionally, a work I assume will take quite a long time to complete will come together much faster than expected when things are going good, and I can get into a groove.”
WHAT VISUAL REFERENCES DO YOU DRAW UPON IN YOUR WORK?
“Currently I am primarily referencing the video and written notes from the hyper-realistic portrait course I took from Dirk Dzimirsky. His works look like photographs and the more realistic I can make my works look the better. No matter how much I could improve on my own, I would never have been able to make the gains I have gotten without his help and the special paper and charcoal he recommends! Just like Viviana, his willingness to help other artists is such a wonderful thing!”
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS FOR 2023?
“My main projects for next year, as well as the remainder of this year, are to continue to improve my hyper-realistic portraits skills and to complete a certain number of portraits by the year’s end. I am hoping to then submit some of them to ArtTour International! Also, recently I have reached out to a couple of artists regarding possibly doing a collaboration to benefit a charity next year. Schedules are tight for all concerned but hopefully, we can work things out. A few years back I did a collaboration with a very talented artist in Thailand named Dao Ratchadaporn that worked out quite well.”