Jim Bortz has cut a rugged trail to this point in his career as a painter. A sportsman at heart, Jim's hard-won experience introduces a level of authenticity to his work not often found in the wildlife art world. The believability of Jim's paintings is built squarely on a foundation of solid draftsmanship... a skill developed through years of filling sketchbooks. This skill translates to a pleasing level of accuracy in a bold impressionistic painting style. An avid fly fisherman, Jim is quickly becoming known as one of the countries top trout artists. Though currently based in Pennsylvania, he spends a great deal of time in the Rocky Mountains... a passion prominently reflected in his work.
"I've always been fascinated by the rugged places of the American West... the wildlife, the landscape, and the men who chose to make a life there. Cowboys, mountain men and explorers - great selfsuficient men who lived off the land and followed a code all but lost to the progress of comfort and modern technology. These heros of my youthful imagination were not fearless men, but overcame fear to sometimes do great things... and other times just survive. It's been said that character is forged from the fires of a hard life and the lives of these men were hard indeed. I like that. It's something I try to keep in mind as I push through my own meager struggles.
With the gravity of the West constantly tugging at my painter's heart, my work displays a strong Rocky Mountain influence. My paintings are built squarely on a foundation of careful observation, decades of drawing, and many miles-worth of worn boot leather.
Meticulous careful observation is never done at breakneck speed. It's methodical, thoughtful, and quiet... qualities wildly out of place living in the 21st century (the fact that this likely one of the big reasons I spend so much time alone is not lost on me). Important details vanish like a spooked wild brook trout unless approached with respectful deliberation. These details rarely reveal themselves at first glance. They are most often the reward of patient persistance and a mind comfortable with being in the moment.
A life of balance has always been important to me, though I never quite seem to get there. Too many days spent afield when I know I should be painting wear on me every bit as much as the cramp in my ass from too much studio time. My obsession with fishing and hunting always threatens my productivity. That being said, those hours afield not only rest and recharge my creative mind, they are the inspiration for most of my work. Many of my best painting ideas have come standing in the middle of a river not thinking about anything in particular. Letting my mind wander without guidance often leads me down creative trails I never imagined.
Conversely, when things are going well in the studio, I tend to neglect the chores of everyday life. The grass gets too long, the refrigerator grows empty, and enough dust settles around the house to write your name in. I've spent days in the studio only to venture outside long enough to rest my eyes or walk to the mailbox.
Maybe that's the only way to approach any sort of life balance... knowing that it's a constantly moving target that can never really be nailed down. It's just something always requiring a bit of work and adjustment."
- Jim Bortz
Bortz has had multiple pieces juried into the prestigious Birds In Art exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin and is included in the Museum's permanent collection.
- Mountain Trails Gallery - Jackson Hole, WY
- Mountain Trails Gallery - Park City, UT
- Manitou Galleries - Santa Fe, NM