A resident of Dexter and Scio Township for over 20 years, James VanCoppenolle has been an Art Educator for 39 years and has taught students of all ages, from elementary to university courses. While James has taught a range of art courses, from ceramics to graphic design, drawing and painting have been mainstays of his art, both professionally and personally throughout his life. As James prepares to retire from his position as a High School Drawing and Painting instructor with Howell Public Schools at the end of this school year, he looks forward to painting for a wider community. He is registering as a “Professional” for this year’s Competition at the suggestion of fellow professional artists, in part because he has been painting and drawing professionally over the last 12 years, working on multiple private commissions. He has also been exhibiting his work for decades. While James was not able to participate in Paint Dexter for the last few years due to scheduling conflicts, he did participate in 2019 as an “Emerging Artist”. Some of the paintings from this show are included with this biography. He looks forward to participating in his home town’s best event this year.
As an artist, James focuses on capturing the essence of his subject, be it a landscape setting or a person. His commissioned work often combines these two components. He is well known for his intimate portraits of individuals, featured against backdrops which deepen and accentuate the true spirit of the subject. His experience working as a public school teacher has made him exceptionally versatile with different types of materials and the need to demonstrate and teach his students during short class periods has made James very agile at producing high quality finished pieces quickly. He looks forward to bringing these skills to bear in this year’s Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival.