Monday, December 4, 2017

Open Studio Dec 7-8-9!

This is a great weekend to pick up original art for Christmas NE Minneapolis from working studios in cool old buildings.

Our studio is open this weekend and I would really like to get some of these pieces in homes instead of on my walk.

This year I have over 90 originals mounted, custom matted, and shrink wrapped to make it easier and cheaper to frame. I am going to put 30% off on all of these and I believe Marcy is doing something similar.

Solar Arts and Indeed Brewery will have food trucks, some music, craft beer, and great artist this weekend.

Come pick something up or just say hi. Your encouragement is a big deal and supports this part of our lives!

Dec 7-8 Thur Fri 6:30-9:00 and 12-9 on Saturday.

Solar Arts Building - 2nd floor by the stairs - 711 NE 15th ave NE Minneapolis - above Indeed Brewery

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 State Fair Sketches - 5 years running!

A great, and this time rainy, sketch day at the MN State Fair.  This is my 5th year in a row!

With the rain and humidity my paintings took longer to dry so that changed up my strategy a bit.

These images are in the rough order of execcution with the exception of the pig. I put my favorite first!

This is mostly from my new paint kit based on Liz Steele's 2017 water color set up.

The book is 8 1/2" x 11" water color paper. Most of these take me between 25 -45 minutes.

Dreaming Pig

This was my 3rd or 4th drawing in. This was fun because two of the kids who show the pigs had questions while I did the piece. This is my favorite of the bunch and was featured on an MPR post with other beautiful work from sketchers from the same day. How cool is that?

I always start with a Twisted Sister Sausage for my warm up sketch. It was really raining here. Not my favorite sketch (past years were better) but I really learned how the paper and paints were acting will all of rain and humidity. is probably the most valuable sketch of the day.  Certainly the tastiest.

The rain dictated indoor sketches, so this year is animal heavy.  This first sketch was fun because the kid who owned the turkey talked to me a little.  The bird was fun to draw but he wasn't really crazy about me standing there.

This Rooster most certainly was not crazy about me painting him.  I think that is why is looking a little like an aggressive eagle.  Such a beautiful bird. I was trying to stay loose and capture some of the beautiful colors in the black feathers.  It is always interesting to paint in a high traffic area.  You can see people wanting to ask but not ask.  I always talk to anyone who engages me. I imagine if I wasn't 6'-5", 270# and bald I might get more takers. Despite that I generally wind up having several dozen conversations about the paintings during the day. 

I needed to walk around and let these dry. I finally found an open table mostly out of  the rain and did a quick sketch of this musician as the other two dried and received a few touch ups.

Where the rooster did not want to be painted, these two sheep didn't mind being painted at all.  If you look close you can see rain drops in the pre mixed grey while I walked around waiting for them to dry.

The pig was next. I have drawn a pig every year. I guess it is a thing now.

These last two sketches were my wrap up.  It was half an hour before we met as a group and I finally found a covered place to sit.  I typically wrap up with people sketches. This was done sitting with a nice couple who had family showing animals.  I was explaining my kit and sketching nearby people. My favorite was the guy holding the wooden staff in a clear rain coat holding court with a huge corn dog in his hand. So I labeled him "The Corn Dog Messiah"

Thanks to Marty Harris and Roz Stendahl and the Metro Sketchers for organizing!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Art-A-Whirl 2017!

Hello everyone,
If you are a friend of mine on facebook (where I am much more active - have heard plenty about it, but we have been working hard to get ready for Art-A-Whirl 2017.  This will be our 4th in the Solar Arts building (Above Indeed Brewery). We are in a new location over by the stair. The space is a little narrower than the last and houses Marcy, Leo, and I.
Friday, May 19th – 5:00-10:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 20th – Noon-8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 21st – Noon-5:00 p.m.
711 15th avenue NE, MPLS
2nd Floor Studio 216 (by the stairs)
Please come and see us.  We have repainted the place, gotten art matted, framed, and even have progress pieces on the wall.  I will also have the recent collaboration with a high school student through MN Make a Wish Foundation on display.
This year we have worked to original art for all budgets:
-$5 dollar linoleum cut prints
- Over 90 shrink-wrapped matted pieces from $40 - $140
- Small framed pieces from $20
- Larger framed pieces from $200 - $1600
- Non-matted smaller originals from $10 - $90
- Non-matted larger originals from $90 - $200
- Smaller signed prints framed and unframed from $10 - $40
- Marcy has prints of her Geisha and Kids looking at a Polaroid
- Or just come to visit and see what is new and the amazing artist on the second floor.
Northrup King is the amazing Mother Ship for Art-A-Whirl, but if you want a more digestible amount of art and a more manageable crowd come to the Solar Arts first. 2nd floor has about 20 working studios with fine art, jewelry, and fantastic pottery in our “old studio”.  3rd floor has Chowgirls Lounge with craft cocktails, Chowgirls Killer Catering local-and-organic twist on the retro TV dinner, and the MN Sculptors Society.
Indeed will have a huge line up of outdoor music and food.

More information here about the artist in the building and also on Indeed Breweries website will give you the music lineup:

You can’t make it to Art-A-Whirl or the crowds aren’t your thing, we are always open on First Thursday or we can meet most evenings with a little planning.

Just look for the giant TRex! by the door.

James, Marcy, and Leo

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Westminster Presbyterian Church

This is a piece I have been working on all week in walnut ink and watercolor.

We have lost someone special and this Westminster Presbyterian Church has embraced the family. I worked on this as I thought through what community means.

Very loose interpretation based off of an old photo.  I took some liberties. Some of the higher windows are stone but I wish they were glass so I made them so.

Anyway, hope you enjoy my little therapy session.

This is  11x17

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Clevelander view from the beachside seats

I was an invited artist to the Clevelander in South Beach on a dream trip twice a few years ago.  I was invited to come and sketch as much as I could for 4 days.  

I see that I never posted this process image, drawn and painted at night and onsite while enjoying the atmosphere.  The next day with actual sunlight I pushed and pulled a few things.

This is pretty typical of my process and also shows my paint kit.

This was such an amazing trip. If you ever visit the Clevelander they also own the Essex House on the same block. It is beautiful, the courtyard is amazing, and Zen Sai is fantastic as well.

a panarama from my vantage point

Laying out the big shapes and getting the proportions right

The inking starts. This is not a tracing, this is drawing a second time and often times I am making changes on my second pass.

More progress

Starting to clean up

Now for color

I use a limited pallete and then only three colors from that. Especially when I paint in the dark with colored lights.

Blocking out more color.

In the daylight. Working while eating.

More or less finished.

This was a fun trip.  I have a second round of drawings that I have never posted but the first round can be found here:

Hope you enjoyed a peek at my process!

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Some time ago submitted these 11 X 17 boards to a sketch competition for d3. 2013 submission call.  These boards, along with a1,500 others were hung the Fordham University in NYC.

Since then I have used these boards over and over when the subject of sketching in architecture comes up.

This is a pretty good summary of my work when it comes to design thinking and how it relates to drawing.

I hope you enjoy these.

This first board is about digital sketching. For me it isn't either or.  It is just a different medium. You approach a charcoal drawing differently than an ink wash. It is the same with digital versus traditional media.  Craft is craft.

I do A LOT of travel sketching. As an architect to me it is similar to a musician practicing their favorite artist melody lines. To learn to see (or hear), try to figure out what they were saying and why it worked (or didn't), and especially to remember.

At this point I can walk while drawing and painting.  I can also draw upside down almost as well as right side up.  Somehow my handwriting is so much better than the normal way but it is much slower.

Often times I am in conversations about how to put complex assemblies together.  I have found these types of drawings to really help that conversation along and get past the basics and on to the good ideas from the folks in the field.

As architects, we do a ton of 3d modeling. I set up the basic bones of a building faster in 3d which gives me something accurate to sketch options over. Pick and option, model that, print and sketch over to the next level of detail and options, model and test that, sketch over get the picture but I almost have construction documents when I am done.

This is also a good way to have conversations with multiple trades. The construction folk look at it toward constructability, sequencing, and cost. The owner or developer wants to see the image and the feel along with cost. There are lots of players with different centers of their universe and this lets me communicate in a way to talks to all of them.

Plus.... I just love drawing and use any excuse I can.

Hope you enjoyed this.
Samples of my other work can be found by searching James Nutt and Behance.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Metro Sketchers at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

These sketches are from a couple of years ago, but the "Spoon and Cherry!"  has made the rounds in a few shows and the prints have sold well.

Liz Carlson sets up this wonderful monthly sketch group - MetroSketchers - and all of these were done onsite with about 30 other talented and fun people.

Since this time they have redone the sculpture garden.  Perhaps it is time to go and make new sketches.

Angular planes of metal were fund to capture.

One of my favorite pieces. This is all inkwash. The red color is the crazy Noodlers brand of ink named Cayenne.  It goes crazy with water. (11x14)

a small 3x5 study in water color

3 x5 church study

I am not sure if I will ever add color. Maybe just the red on the  cherry. What I remember about this was the conversation around me at the time.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these.

(BTW traffic on my site has really jumped! Thank you. If anyone knows why please send me a comment of how you heard about this humble blog.)

For more art see my portfolio site on