James Coe

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James Coe

United States

James Coe is an artist with a passion for birds, nature, barns, and other relics of our rural heritage. He grew up in the suburbs of New York City, where he was fascinated by the shorebirds he spotted in nearby marshes, and he taught himself to identify all the birds he found around town. Jim began to paint as a teenager when he and a friend set out to compile a guide to the local birdlife.


Jim went to Harvard and majored in biology. He received little formal training in art until attending Parson’s School of Design in New York as a graduate student. After earning his MFA, Jim shifted gears and immersed himself in field guide illustration. Jim contributed work to several other books, including the Easy Bird Guide: West, Birds of New Guinea, and Frank Gill’s college textbook Ornithology, but is best known as the author and illustrator of the acclaimed Golden Field Guide Eastern Birds, first published in 1994, and reissued in 2001 by St. Martin’s.  


Jim spent fifteen years as an illustrator and then stepped back across the divide into the world of ‘fine’ art when he began painting plein air landscapes. He discovered that many of the skills needed to capture the fleeting light and dynamic conditions of the landscape were like those he had developed sketching birds.


While he continues to paint on-location for studies and reference, Jim’s artwork today is a synthesis of the two genres and combines a passion for landscape with an extensive knowledge of natural history. In many of his paintings he integrates a bird into the setting, while also striving to maintain the fresh handling of a plein air study. Birds are not pasted into the Jim’s landscapes for illustrative or narrative purposes; instead, his goal is to introduce an element of movement, color, or interest to the composition. He strives to evoke the poetic quality of birdwatching: that magic moment when bird, environment, and atmosphere merge into one memorable image.


A Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society and Society of Animal Artists, Jim serves of the Board of the SAA and as Jury Chair, overseeing the selection of the Society's exhibitions. For more than 40 years he has shown in the Woodson Art Museum’s prestigious "Birds in Art" annual and in 2011 was recognized as the Museum's 32nd Master Artist.

Jim’s has won awards in many professional juried exhibitions. He is represented in the permanent collections of the New York State Museum, Bell Museum of Natural History, Museum of American Bird Art at MassAudubon, the Hiram Blauvelt and Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museums. Jim has been featured in various publications, including Harvard Magazine, Plein Air, Wildlife Art, and American Art Collector. His paintings have graced the covers of Sanctuary, Bird Watcher's Digest, Birding World, and The Auk, journal of the American Ornithologist’s Union.


Jim lives with his wife Karen on the western rim of the Hudson Valley, not far from Albany, NY.

* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 16th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.