The Power to Paint


James Holmes, a Denver-based abstract artist, shares his story of finding his passion through an unexpected experience

Always a lover of the arts and deeply involved in the Denver arts community, serving as a trustee of the Denver Art Museum, Holmes was never an artist himself until a recent horse accident left him with plenty of time to pick up a new talent.

In February of 2018, James was injured when the horse he had been riding kneed him in the back of the head. He drove himself to the hospital and learned that his neck was broken and he was at high risk of paralysis. He decided to have emergency spinal fusion surgery. After a few days in the hospital and 12 weeks of recovery time at home ahead of him, James found himself needing something to do while he was healing.

Both his wife and mother encouraged him to try painting, so he did. Before he knew it he had created 30 or so paintings. His spontaneous style of painting led to abstract works with vibrant colors and textures, all with stories to tell.

“It has all been about abstraction. I had no interest in painting horses or landscapes, or anything else,” says James. He goes on to say, his “motive for painting was healing.” And through his desire to heal, the flow of creating abstract paintings began. Through his process of painting, “from the inside out,” as James describes it, he healed, both physically and mentally.

Fast forward a few years and James now operates his own gallery, selling his pieces as well as commissioned works, such as the four-panel piece at the Northridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch he created in remembrance of the STEM school shooting.

His painting practice includes a combination of color and texture as a visual language. With the goal of his paintings connecting with people on a deeper level. His passion grew quickly, he created nearly 50 paintings that first year.

Others began to take notice, including a local photographer who was relentless in getting him to showcase his work at a local art show at the Deep Space Gallery in Parker. After his exhibition there he sold a few pieces and won an award, which helped to solidify as well as validate his role as an artist.

James is a thoughtful and emotional being who lets his feelings guide him through what he paints. Whatever emotions he has while painting, guide him to what will show up on the canvas. He wants to create art that makes one feel and invites the viewer along in the journey with him.

James Holmes Studio & Gallery

126 West 12th Avenue, Denver