Fallbrook artist and veteran finds passion for painting
Last updated 11/19/2020 at 1:08pm
James Wallace grew up in Laguna Hills and San Clemente and was attending Saddleback College when 9/11 happened.
Not long after that, he enlisted in the United States Army.
"I was in for three and a half years," he said. "I was (working with) Patriot missiles. I spent two of those years in Korea and I ended up getting hurt over there."
He explained that his injury was like falling off a moving semi trailer truck on the highway.
"I ended up getting nerve damage from that," he said. "I tried to stay with the unit when they were rotating to Qatar and couldn't pass the APFT. I ended up making it worse. So, I got medically discharged."
Until that point, he hadn't really given art much thought.
"In high school I doodled on my notebooks, but, it didn't really become a part of my life until I got hurt," Wallace said. "I started through the VA. They recommended that you close your eyes and imagine a place where you'd rather be. That's when I really started to draw landscapes and making postcards and drawing landscapes, then somebody recommended I try painting and it has just kind of grown from there. That was in around 2013.
"(Painting) was like a pain release, I mean, it takes your mind somewhere else and it's an escape."
Fast forward to 2020 and he has his first gallery show at 105 N. Main. He signs his paintings as J. Clayton as a homage to his grandmother and father.
His love of landscape paintings is on display at the gallery.
"I'm almost really going to say most of them that are in there are from the river down De Luz, Sandia Creek and the Santa Margarita River," Wallace said, "The river trail down there."
Wallace said he hasn't taken up plein air painting and usually takes a photo of a scene he likes.
"I'd go take photos and bring it back to the studio," he said. "There were a few of them where I took a sketchbook out, and I'll sketch it. The colors I'll do from memory ... unless I want to change it."
Wallace said he's done some paintings of alternative subjects and is interested in branching out. He has painted a Navy ship a buddy of his was working on and his father's car.
"I'm curious about it, kind of the photorealism kind of art, using thicker paint in the foreground to differentiate it from the background and give it a 3D field," he said.
Wallace said he's starting to receive more requests for commissioned paintings and the reaction to his work so far has been good.
"It's been surprising," he said. "This year has been interesting. I've done a lot of orders. I'm working on three paintings at the moment and learning how to process that.
"It is different, but it's still fun. And I do kind of like the learning experience."
Though it wasn't what he had planned for his life, he's open to being a full time artist.
"It wasn't something I grew up saying, 'I want to be an artist,'" Wallace said. "But, it's a lot of fun to do. If I can do it and I would certainly enjoy doing it.
"I'm trying to figure out if I can run with this."
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]