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“When I paint, I’m someplace else good.”
Navy veteran Jim Waters has begun a new chapter in his life as an artist. After a series of misfortunes, Jim felt as if he was experiencing life behind a “dark curtain.”'
Having lived through periods of liberation, pain, loss, and euphoria, Jim Waters’ life experiences are reimagined in his paintings. Painful losses of loved ones and a tumultuous relationship with alcoholism ultimately led him to discover a new period in his life, that of an artist. Becoming an artist has helped him find a sense of purpose and renewed vigor to make the most of life.
Several years ago, a friend helped Jim look for art lessons in the Boston area, leading him to Outside The Lines, a studio for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. The space became an essential part of his days. The Project Coordinator at the time Diana Rice taught Jim the basics of drawing, and since their initial encounter, he has become an active member of the OTL community. He spends free time at the studio, working on his paintings and meeting up with fellow OTL members for Friday music jam sessions.
Jim grew up in North Cambridge, just outside of Boston. Looking back, Jim recognizes that art played a more significant role in his life than he fully realized at the time. His art comes alive through these memories and stark images that have stuck with him over the years. Most pieces and inspiration come from a deep connection to specific locations, either from lived memory like New Orleans (Bayou Series) and faraway places he imagines (Village on a Fjord). Remembering the sight of a bar full of clowns, or his first sailing job in Woods Hole Massachusetts when he was sixteen demonstrate his deep reflection and absorption of his surroundings, translating to his painted scenes of landscapes, bodies of water, and cities.
Jim’s stories vividly transport you to another time which he subconsciously reflects in his paintings. A navy sailor, a mental health assistant, a musician, a traveler, an artist, Jim has been all of those things. He even ran away with a traveling circus. A winding life full of experiences enabled him to embody different characters and explore new sides of himself. Those timelines and memories are wrapped into one, manifesting his current identity of an artistically inclined, inspired, and spiritual individual. Jim says “Each day brings you a little closer to the next world, and I hope to keep on painting and writing and playing music until I can’t do it anymore.”
Jim would say that Bob Dylan’s song “Shelter from the Storm” says everything you need to know about him. “I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail / Poisoned in the bushes an' blown out on the trail /Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn /Come in, she said /I'll give ya shelter from the storm.” OTL and ArtLifting, Jim’s newfound art communities have provided him with shelter, friendships, and music.
When Jim lost his wife some years ago, he immersed in unhealthy habits, but ultimately sought refuge in painting. Later, after his partner of several years passed away, painting continued to serve as a powerful grieving tool. He says, “Painting puts me in a good place. It gets me out of reality and into a zone where I don't have to think about anything else.”
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