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James Wille Faust

Respecting the Elements
by Barry Thorne

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With the Wind, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 46"

The paintings of James Wille Faust are stylistically modern in their hard-edged geometry, but the roots of his work lie in the simple naturalism of a rural landscape painter. The artist was born in the 1950s on a farm in Lapel, Indiana. Surrounded by crops and livestock, his childhood years were spent exploring the woods and fields under the magnificent, open, Midwestern sky. The awe of nature in the young Faust that inspired him to become an artist and formed the developmental basis of his art.

"I loved watching the clouds of dust disappear behind moving trucks as they traveled down empty gravel roads, and fire plumes in the distance from farmers burning fallen wood."

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Rising Plume, acrylic on canvas, 46" x 36"

Faust was a natural with technical graphics. Early in his scholastic years, instructors pushed him towards a career as a mechanical designer—a more acceptable pursuit in the Midwestern agricultural economy. In spite of this, he pursued a fine arts degree at the University of Illinois.

After experimenting with Zen, achromatic colors and surrealism, Faust’s admiration for 1960s psychedelic art steered him on the path towards his current work. A psychedelic vision combined with geometrical abstraction fused with his innate love of nature to influence this body of work.

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Head Full of Traffic, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 46"

In 1992, Faust became fascinated with plumes. They began appearing in his paintings after the oil well fires of the Gulf War. He sees the abstracted plumes in his paintings as symbolic of clouds of smoke, water plumes and even chemical plumes. For the past ten years the artist has been working with the plumes, a series he calls Atmospheric Illusions and Plume Series paintings. The works are inspired by frequent visits to the open rural spaces of the West.

"I am impressed by the open spaces and the elements of those spaces, such as the sky, the heat, the wind, the stones and the effect these elements have on the land, in particular, on the fires."

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Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 46"

In 1999 wild fires became a major influence on his work. During this time wildfires seemed to burn relentlessly out of control throughout much of the West. He was absorbed by daily detailed radio reports about the destruction and magnitude of the fires. While fires lit up the landscape and smoke darkened the sky, Faust found himself in the studio inspired to paint plumes of smoke.

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Liquid Kachina, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 24"

Faust seeks balance in his work. As if to counter the fires, water has also been an inspiration. Water droplets form the subject of another series of works called Droplet Portraits.

Faust sees the time he spent on the farms and rivers of the Midwest as a gift, a gift he shares with others through his art. Nature to him is more than just a source of inspiration. It is his teacher.

James Wille Faust

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