A stroke of passion

James Gummerson stands in his studio amongst various canvases, surrounded by artworks both completed and in progress.

By Rachel Doek

If you’re interested in the art scene of Hamilton, you may have heard of James Gummerson. James’ work is currently represented by Earls Court Gallery and Summer & Grace Gallery. His art has been displayed across Canada including The Art Gallery of Hamilton and Emerald Arts Gallery British Columbia.  

When James isn’t in the midst of creating art, he’s busy teaching it. James is a professor at Mohawk College, where he teaches the Watercolour Painting and Drawing Continuing Education courses. 

His vast experience and passion for art provides a deep well for him to draw from when it comes to teaching. When instructing his courses, James chooses to lay a simple foundation for students to get started no matter their artistic ability. “I see students at all levels. Some are beginners, and some are advanced. I even have people that take the course regularly and have been through all the levels just because this is their time to paint. The course is tailored in a way that all levels receive instruction,” said James. “This is a more relaxed environment for people to get some really good direction without the pressure. All you need is a pencil and paper.” 

“I see students go from having never picked up a pencil or brush before, to becoming knowledgeable and proficient. It’s so satisfying to see,” he continued. “I find students that really feel like they have learned a new skill are so proud of what they have done.” 

James encourages students to work through a wide range of artistic mediums to discover their passion and ability, though he recognizes and structures his courses around the fact that not all his students have as much free time as the others. “We work on many projects and assignments throughout the course although I try to keep it a ‘low stress’ environment. Many people have jobs and other responsibilities so coming into an evening class can be daunting,” said James. “’I don’t have a creative bone in my body...’ a student might say. We have fun trying to find out if that's true. The projects and assignments are meant not only to push learning boundaries but to also inspire and make sure they have fun in the process.” 

“We explore traditional and contemporary methods of drawing and painting,” he continued. “One ongoing project is to keep a sketchbook and draw in it five times a week. Just simple drawing and learnings from class. Students have fun reviewing each other's drawings. In painting, our ending assignment is a final piece. It helps people show off what they've learned.” 

James never fails to be amazed by the astounding impact that art can have on a person’s life. “For some, it has been life changing. I have met people who were nervous about doing the course for the first time and found a hidden talent they never knew existed,” said James. “For others, the class teachings have been a metaphor for life. I have listened to many students about their journey through art and the class and how it helped them overcome fears, push boundaries, and make new life paths.” 

Whether you’re an expert looking to practice the basics or a novice looking to learn them, James recommends exploring what the Watercolour course has to offer. 

“I would say that students should take the course to solidify a strong grasp on the fundamentals of drawing and painting. Student can choose what they want to paint for projects. Beginners learn how to understand the basic techniques that will drive all future artwork and advanced learners will be reminded and practice those fundamentals. It's important to have a good base of skills for drawing and painting.” 

Explore the Watercolour Painting course or a Drawing course and other Continuing Education courses! Discover your passion today.