South Pacific Portfolio
James Maxwell lives along the Northern Coast of California,
near Mendocino, CA. His house is within sound of the cold sea,
he seeks the Tropics for comfort in winter, and being
an inveterate "doer," his hands have to keep busy.
On one trip into the South Pacific he brought his studio,
and left the "foggy dark" behind.


Contained in a briefcase, Max had packed enough paper
for two months moving from American Samoa to Western
Samoa and the three island groupings of the Kingdom 
of Tonga. Using Japanese sumi brushes and English 
watercolors, Max produced over thirty painting and 
text for his Winter's Diary. This work found its way
into the hands of Air New Zealands in flight magazine's
editor, Jill Malcolm, and his work was published there.



That article resulted in sales and commissions for work
now found in collections around the world. The sunlight
saturated paintings are the size of Max's briefcase 
12"X 16", they are of an immediate fleeting moment. They
are personal in the extreme, as they are of relationships
along the way of his travels. Kindnesses, and playful
tourist flirting, are mixed with a sense of finding one's
place in the scheme of things.

While swimming one morning, a dugout outrigger canoe
rounded the reaf and headed for him. Native boys 
brandishing a machete playing pirate, headed in on him
in mock warfare, "I think there was a gene pool, cell
memory thing going on there."
Convinced early on, as to their benevolence, Max
motioned the children to shore where he photographed
them. Using a Polaroid as "booty", the artist realized
he possessed a tool for trade in getting models.
At one such exchange the kids were so impressed with
their own images, they ran away in delight, forgetting
their Polaroid treasure.


The climate of the islands, the moisture, the lack of
foggy atmosphere, the intensity of the light are all
part of the textures of these paintings. "Yes" Max's
reiterates, "the sea really is a lilac color, and the
sky sometimes is a yellow that is unpaintable, but
what is really weird is there is no twilight, the 
sun goes down and its black. But then again, the 
southern sky has other stars."

In this painting Max explains, "Suddenly, there
were all these kids around me, wanting a Polaroid
for themselves. The little girl in front here
traded me an exquisite shell for one, turns out
it is rare enough to buy several cameras. But,
what I'm really saying about this painting is 
the children were so fascinated by the Polaroids
that when I brought out my 35mm camera they
expected a picture to pop out. That was a good day,
lots of sunshine and sand, nice people and lots of
laughter. So simple."

Evenings were quiet, no electricity to enforce his
work, so the entertainment provided by the locals
became the focus. Working from sketches and memory,
paintings were produced over weeks after returning
to the mainland. Even now, some years later, commis-
sions and sales of South Pacific subject matter
is part of Max's studio work.


For a look at the complete portfolio of
Maxwell's South Pacific Journal that is
illustrating a Publishing House's Web Site,
go to:

Fine Arts






Portrait #1

Portrait #2

 Portrait #3

Portrait #4

Portrait #5