Life With Ferris: James Schaefer Strengthens Our Community With Truth And Beauty

Monday, November 29, 2021 - by Ferris Robinson

We all know that immersing ourselves in nature is good for our souls. There are all sorts of benefits, from lowering blood pressure, reducing cancer risk and reducing stress, which is a culprit for all manner of ailments. But between jobs and children and traffic and the gym, there often isn’t time to relax by the river or in the woods or at the top of a mountain overlooking a pastoral view of the valley.

That’s where artist James Schaefer comes in. A landscape painter from Tennessee, he spends his days in nature, capturing its essence in different paintings. His work portrays a sense of peace, of relaxation, of calm, all quite similar to what you might find yourself if you were surrounded by the stillness of a verdant forest or near a tree-lined river. 

A plein air painter, Mr. Schaefer calls the outdoors his studio as he “explores the visible world by taking risks with color, discovering what comes with the freedom to make “mistakes.” Such freedom is evident in his work, as the barriers of canvas and frame seem to vanish. “When I am out painting in the landscape, I see the power of God and feel His love at work," Mr. Schaefer said.

A student of plein air painters, from deceased to living, Mr. Schaefer finds inspiration in the artists who blend realism with color field painting, and he is quick to credit them. As the saying goes, “... we stand like dwarves on the shoulders of giants,” he posts about Holocaust survivor and artist Wolf Kahn.

Lucia Hopper, Mountain Mirror publisher and daughter of renowned artist Billy Parker, has a keen eye for art and featured Mr. Schaefer’s work at The Lookout Gallery on North Watauga. The collection for the show actually began this past March during one of the artist’s hikes through the Tennessee River Gorge, as he reached out “over a windblown, tilting ledge for just a glimpse” of the beauty beyond. His words on his Instagram posts are as lyrical and enchanting as his paintings. 

“Finding my way through a forest in the Tennessee River Valley near Raccoon Mountain, there’s an aerie in those trees,” he writes about his painting titled “Forest Path,” acrylic on paper. About “The Twilight I Longed For,” he writes, “Dusk is an interesting time of day to be outdoors: A sense of loss and welcome combine.” As for the morning, he posts, “There is a quiet on the river in the morning that sets the stage for listening,” and the picture he painted at a bend in the Tennessee River is titled “Early April Morning.”

“I am grateful to be part of the exciting work Lucia Hopper leads: strengthening our community with truth and beauty,” Mr. Schaefer says of the show that recently hung, his first solo exhibit in Tennessee.

Follow Mr. Schaefer on Instagram at JamesSchaeferArt.
By Ferris Robinson



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