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James Hoyle knew since he was six years old that he wanted to be an artist. At thirteen years of age, he began with his first art classes. His teacher, Mary Hovious, brought Hoyle art supplies to the hospital when a broken leg kept him flat on his back in traction. A Nashville, Tennessee newspaper did an article about Hoyle painting landscapes as he lay recumbent in his hospital bed.
Hovious believed in Hoyle's talent and she purchased art supplies for him when he needed them, and encouraged him to paint as much as possible. She arranged his first painting commissions, and subsequently, she entered Hoyle in the National Art Education Association and the American Red Cross, City and Landscape Watercolor Show. His entry won him an award of merit. Later, Hoyle was mentioned in Hovious' eulogy as being one of her most accomplished and favorite art students.
At eighteen years of age, Hoyle's formal art training began at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. There he learned the techniques of portraiture and sculpture. One of his instructors told Hoyle that his painting reminded him of Van Gogh, which led to a heightened interest for James in the works of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters. The actual painting to which his instructor referred was entered in the Annual Student Show at Ringling in 1969, and won Hoyle an award. Unfortunately, the painting was later stolen.
After graduating from Ringling, Hoyle traveled first to New Orleans, and later to Santa Fe. He now attributes his penchant for painting landscapes to the love of the countryside that he developed while spending time painting in those areas. Continuing to study the master painters, Hoyle drew much influence and inspiration from Claude Monet during this period, which undoubtedly led to Hoyle's unique sense of color.
James came to Hawai'i in the latter part of the 1970's, and painting there, surrounded by tropical landscapes, his colors became more heightened and intense. Paul Gauguin, at this point, began to also become an influence on Hoyle's work. Given that both were greatly inspired by the lush tropical scenery, this was a natural development in Hoyle's artistic style.
Upon his arrival to Hanapepe, Kaua'i, James began painting what he saw - the weathered camp houses where the plantation workers who labored in the fields lived, juxtaposed against an exotic landscape. As he began this series of paintings he realized that many of these buildings were being torn down to be replaced by newer housing developments. For seven years, Hoyle raced to paint as many of these camp houses as he possible could. Today, these paintings represent some of the only existing visual records of an era that was once an integral part of life on Kaua'i.
Hoyle also noticed that some of his favorite painting spots were being swallowed up by development. He succeeded in preserving the beauty and splendor of places like Ke'e Beach in Haena, Mahaulepu Beach and Shipwrecks Beach in Poipu, Lawai Kai, the Hanapepe shoreline, as well as the Kaua'i Museum, Grove Farm Museum, Japanese Buddhist temples, and the homes and favorite places frequented by the local folks in Kekaha and Hanapepe, where Hoyle lived and painted for over ten years.
When he would paint on location, children often flocked around him to watch in awe as wonderful images appeared on his canvas. Today these children are grown, but they still ask about his paintings when they see him, and respectfully call him Mr. Hoyle.
James Hoyle has a remarkable talent for choosing a particular setting and then portraying what he sees before himself. He does a kindness for us all by removing the trappings of modern society that have created distractions from the purity of the image. So, we are presented with the Hawai'i of old, sans telephone poles, wires, fences, roads and the like. James loves the natural beauty of Hawai'i and he captures the feeling of living in the islands like no other artist. This is the reason that many collectors are driven to acquire his work, and in doing so to make a spiritual connection with old Hawai'i.
His warm and accessible painting style is the result of a gradual evolution over the past three decades, beginning with his lengthy study of van Gogh, Pissarro, Monet, Gauguin and others. During the last decade, Hoyle's style has become unique in all the world, playing off his strength as a colorist, his passion for light and movement, and the balance and linearity of his brushwork.
James paints what he feels; he considers himself to be an expressionist who paints his emotions, his passions, and his world. It is not so much what he paints, but how he paints it. With a working knowledge of color application and balance, he begins with an observation of the design and composition, the negative and positive shapes, then applies his colors with a sensitive hand. He utilizes textures to help create a mood, and a variety of strokes, including impasto to emote strong emotion. By varying the direction of brushstrokes, he is able to add character, movement, energy, and life to the painting.
A naturalist painter, Hoyle has a taste for solitude, and a willingness to endure physical discomfort in order to achieve what he needs in a painting. He seeks a sense of communion with the painters who have influenced him, and understands that specialized knowledge and understanding doesn't come from the page of artist tutorials, but rather from an immersion in the sights, sounds, and locales that others have immortalized. James Hoyle has followed this muse across half the earth, painting in the New Orleans French Quarter where Degas had a studio, in Arles, France in the footsteps of van Gogh, in Monet's Giverny, and in the Tahitian locales of Gauguin. He continues to study and evolve as an artist, ever the observer, historian, and keeper of the flame of the old Hawai'i.