Look Behind the Scenes of Jim Warren’s Artistic Process

 In Artists & Special Collections, Jim Warren

As a self-taught artist, Neo-Surrealist painter Jim Warren developed his own method to create his out-of-this-world art.  Take a behind-the-scenes look at how Warren brings his artwork to life.

“Visiting the Rainbow Bridge” (2016), Jim Warren

Step 1: Sketch and Coat

Before he can flesh out his detailed paintings, Warren first sketches an idea for his design. After covering the canvas with a layer of plaster compound called gesso, Warren draws his creation in pencil.

While many artists start with a sketch, Warren’s next step is a little more unconventional. The artist mixes purple acrylic paint with water and lightly covers the canvas. The purple paint goes over the pencil sketch to create a light violet base.

Jim Warren Park West Gallery

Image courtesy of Jim Warren

“I’ve been doing that for a long time,” Warren says. “It just kind of works.”

Warren says the purple base ensures no white shows through the painting.


Step 2: Paint in the Sky

After setting his purple paint base, Warren mixes a rainbow of colors to fill his swirling skies.

Jim Warren Park West Gallery

Image courtesy of Jim Warren

Warren says his painting process has consistently followed this regimen for the past 50 years he’s worked as an artist, but he is always striving to improve.

“I’m constantly trying to see what I can do better,” Warren says. “You don’t want to ever feel that you’ve hit a peak.”


Step 3: Fill in the Background

Jim Warren Park West Gallery

Image courtesy of Jim Warren

Once Warren is satisfied with his stellar skyline, he moves down the canvas to fill in the ground. Warren applies multiple coats to enrich his paintings using his signature bold, bright colors.


Step 4: Bring his Subjects to Life

Warren’s Surrealist paintings aren’t complete until he breathes life into his subjects. Unlike his loose, imaginative skies, Warren takes his time painting tiny details on his subjects. The artist uses photographs as references to replicate intricate hairs and shadows on his photo-realistic dogs.

Jim Warren Park West Gallery

Image courtesy of Jim Warren


Finished Product

After his subjects have come alive, Warren’s Surrealist artwork is finally complete. It’s a labor of love for the artist, whose artwork is more often than not met with an emotional reception.

“I see it all the time,” Warren says. “Someone will walk out of the gallery crying, and someone will ask, “What’s wrong with that person?’ and somebody will say, ‘Oh, they were looking at a Jim Warren painting.’”

Jim Warren Park West Gallery

Image courtesy of Jim Warren

Although it is not the goal of his paintings bring people to tears, Warren says he’s happy to help people feel connected to the pets they’ve lost.

“It kind of makes them happy and sad at the same time,” Warren says. “I’m trying to paint it in a way where people think about it in a good way. The memory is a good memory.”

“And There Was Romance” (2019), Jim Warren

If you are interested in collecting the surreal artwork of Jim Warren, attend one of our exciting online auctions, contact our gallery consultants at sales@parkwestgallery.com, or call (800) 521-9654, ext. 4.

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