Catching Up With Artist James Watkins

Blue Nude ~ Slow Fashion Brand - James Watkins Abstract Expressionist Painter


James Watkins, an expressionist painter based out of New Zealand, is the featured artist of our Vida Privada collection.

We first connected with James in Mexico City in 2022, to collaborate on our Chame collection. Afterwards, we decided to return the following summer and work together on artwork for a collection inspired by Mexico.

James is exemplary of the ‘worldly artist’. An arts journalist, photographer, and painter, his work and practice have taken him across Australasia, Europe, and Mexico.


James' paintings are expressive and colourful. For our work on Vida Privada, he utilized large wall-mounted canvases. He explored the vast canvases with intuitive motion, using the full length of his body to create large brushstrokes and subconscious figures.


James believes that objects 'present themselves' through subliminal influence in the narrative of a canvas. When working in the studio, we began to see flowers, plants, and a human figure emerge out colours and shapes forming in paint.


James' works contain an element of chaos, though they are never aggressive. As with the chaos of the natural world, they feel natural and calm. A disorder of shapes, colours, and strokes breaks up the canvas, like the tangle of a bush.


Through James' influence, we have discovered how beautifully therapeutic painting can be. The challenge to not overthink creative expression is sometimes difficult, and James' work is the antidote to that. He paints in place of thinking, an expressionist in every sense of the word.



Blue Nude: You recently moved back to your homeland of New Zealand - how is this influencing your artistic practice?

James Watkins: I've been getting back into nature much more which has been great and shooting a lot of naturalistic photos again. These images and experiences will make up the material for my next body of paintings.

BN: How do you think the inspirations of Mexico came through in your works for this particular collection?

JW: Mexico is constantly influencing anyone who spends time there. It's incredibly stimulating for all the senses, the sights, sounds, smells and colours are always coming into your conscious and subconscious minds. I was particularly interested in the plant life that grew abundantly there and the ancient Mesoamerican cultures. The art I made in Mexico could have only been painted there.

BN: What artists are currently inspiring you?

JW: Marc Breslin

BN: You're fond of plant life - have you had any discoveries or rediscoveries of a species in New Zealand that has captured your attention?

JW: New Zealand has an incredible array of indigenous plant life. We're lucky we have many national parks full of incredible, dense ancient forests- this is my favourite place to be right now..or just in my mum's garden which is full of flowers.

BN: If there were a medium of art you'd like to try, what would it be, and why?

JW: I'd like to move into sculpture more, working in the 3rd dimension, seeing how my imagination deals with solid forms will be fun.

BN: What's next on your creative adventure?

JW: I'm processing all the photos from my travels around NZ, these will make up the next body of paintings. For now, I'm happy being back in NZ so will continue to travel around and soak in as much of my own country as I can.



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