VACAVILLE – Some artists praise the therapeutic benefits of creation.

Jim Leland, the featured artist of the Vacaville Art Gallery, finds painting a challenge.

Questions like how to describe the scene and how to make it interesting are just two of those questions. There is also the decision of what to leave out.

Leland, who was mayor of Novato, is one of Solano’s main planners. He obtained a degree in architecture.

Looking at his oil paintings in the Vacaville gallery, cityscapes dominate.

The work of an architect in activity? No, the creations of a man who did a “little painting” and a drawing in college.

Leland picked up the brush in 2011 after visiting an art gallery, viewing the artwork and giving himself a vote of confidence. He enrolled in art classes and discovered a new passion. The painting satisfied his need to be creative.

“It’s hard to find in a normal work environment,” he said.

Leland still has his first painting which featured colorful rectangles.

It is common for him to work on up to 10 paintings at a time, he said. One of them is a 36 inch by 36 inch rendering of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The subject often comes from a glimpse of something Leland is seeing. Then he takes a picture with his cell phone.

San Francisco is a favorite subject for Leland. It’s inspired by artist Jeremy Mann, who lives in City by the Bay. Mann’s paintings often use wet pavement that reflects streetlights and neon signs.

You can get the impression that they’re part of the scene, Leland said. Leland’s work also evokes the same sentiment.

Leland tries to paint daily. He can devote more time to it on weekends. It has a home studio – a closed veranda.

“It’s intense,” he said of the time spent in the studio. “There is a lot going on on the web.

He thinks it’s important to paint something that people will recognize. At a show in Sacramento, he sold a J Street stage when the buyer said he walked past it every day.

A regular at the gallery’s juried art exhibit, this is Leland’s first exhibition presented there. He joined us shortly after moving to Vacaville in 2014.

Leland chose his works on the theme “Passageways”. He also learned about the painting he was working on as well as the subjects that sparked his interest.

There is no destination that Leland thinks he needs to go and paint scenes from it. San Francisco is an ideal subject.

“You can paint there the rest of your life and never see the same street twice,” he said, pointing to one of his paintings that shows a car approaching Saks Fifth Avenue in Union Square and describing the landscape in the surrounding blocks.

Leland’s work will be presented in October in the new Arata art gallery in Benicia.

Vacaville Art Gallery with artist Jim Leland

  • Until March 9
  • 718 East Main Street
  • Open from noon to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday
  • 448-8712


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