Jim Cantrell paints primarily with oils and watercolors. He describes his technique as abstracted realism. His forte is the human figure encompassing masterful composition, & technique.
Henry Adams, of the Cleveland Museum of Fine Art and biographer of Thomas Hart Benton, describes him as “an artist who transforms raw tubes of paint into designs and images, filled with pattern, meaning, illusion, and pictorial depth. His nuances of color, texture, or shape take on a fascinating life of their own, similar to, and yet recognizably separate from, the world of actual things.”
John Streetman, Director of the Evansville Museum of Arts & Science, says “Perhaps no contemporary realist painter of our region imbues ‘realism’ with more narrative intrigue than Jim Cantrell. Although nodding to centuries-old traditions, Cantrell brings an urgency and ‘new-ness’ to each well-reasoned work—easily recognizable as his own”.
A native of Oklahoma and raised in eastern Nebraska, Cantrell earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1958 and his Master of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1965 with a double emphasis in ceramics & painting. He began his distinguished career as a teacher. In 1971 he established himself as an independent studio artist in Bardstown, Kentucky where he continues to work.
Cantrell’s paintings can be seen in major public and private collections. Participating in over 200 solo, group, and juried exhibitions, he has been the recipient of many awards, including two fellowship grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and from the Southern Arts Federation. He was named Alumna of the Year for Creative Achievement at the University of Northern Colorado in 2000. In 2005 he was awarded a $7500.00 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.