Seventeenth century painter Rembrandt Van Rijn said that an artist must draw from experiences in order to craft true art. Jim Seitz said he believes that quote has never been truer than it for his own life.
After graduating from Stephen F. Austin in 1973, Seitz, now a full-time artist, lived in Iran, New Guinea and Singapore, working as a field engineer on exploratory oil and gas wells.
“The sum of life is all of our experiences,” Seitz said. “Traveling and exploring the world is something that certainly helped my art.”
Seitz’s said his love for drawing began in the third grade and has continued throughout his life. He always sketched, even while he was working in deserts and jungles around the world.
“The most I ever went without sleep was four days,” Seitz said. “When there was work to do, you couldn’t sleep. But there would be days when not much was going on, and I would use that time to explore and paint.”
Seitz spent much of his childhood in Lufkin, but after the loss of two friends in a tragic accident, he said he decided to explore and experience as much as he could. Lucky for Seitz, his high school sweetheart and now wife of 41 years, Connie, shared the desire to travel and was with him every step of the way.
“When I graduated from SFA, Haliburton offered a one-year training program that required you to sign a contract and say that you would go anywhere they wanted you to,” Seitz said. “That was our first marriage test, because what they did at the time was have a nice dinner with everyone and their spouses, and they would announce your name and the location you’d be working in. When I was assigned to Iran, I realized that we had never seen it on a travel brochure.”
Despite living more than a few miles outside of Angelina County, both of Seitz’s daughters were born at Memorial Hospital in Lufkin. Connie, an interior designer, was determined to have daughters that were “Texans,” and flew halfway around the world to come back to Lufkin and give birth.
“As soon as we moved to Singapore and checked into a hotel, I was called away to a rig in Borneo, and I had to leave Connie and the kids behind,” Seitz said. “I ended up being gone for a month, and when I got back the hotel told me that my wife had checked out. I was sure that she had left me and gone home to her mother’s, but the hotel clerk said she just got tired of living in the hotel and had moved into a house in Singapore. I had to ask the man if she left an address because I didn’t know where I lived.”
Throughout their travels, Jim and Connie kept in touch with their creative sides, a lifeblood that Seitz said has kept him sane.
“The jobs I was doing were extremely stressful,” he said. “Art is where I get my sanity back. It truly is a passion. To have it be such a pleasure for me to paint a piece and then for someone to get pleasure from viewing it, is a really nice thing.”
Seitz’s art style took what he described as a 180-degree turn five years ago, when he moved from extreme detail in his paintings to a tonal environment.
“I was incorporating so much detail that I would paint the keyhole in the lock on a door,” Seitz said. “At that point it was less fun and more like work. The tonal environment is done through a more limited pallet. It is more suggestive rather than specific.”
Seitz, who now lives in New Orleans, has work that is featured in a number of prestigious galleries across the country. He has also been featured in, and on the cover of, numerous art magazines.