Morris, James Stovall

James Stovall Morris

 (Am. 1898-1973)

James Stovall Morris was part of a small group of artists who established the first art colony in Santa Fe, NM in the late 1920s. James Morris was born in Marshall, MO in 1898. He received a BA degree from Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania before 1925 and also studied at the Art Institute in Cincinnati, OH and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Southwest state of New Mexico was his calling and his love in creating his art. Arriving in Santa Fe and not having much money for food or supplies, he and a few others set up makeshift living quarters outside. His fist painting was sold to John Sloan, an artist in his own right. Sloan was so impressed with Jim Morris he made special arrangements for him to study at the Art Students League in New York under a scholarship. During his study at the Art Students League in NY and to help make ends meet, he taught art in some of the nearby private high schools and painted and sold lush landscapes of the northeastern countryside. He also was an illustrator of a history book used in the New York public school system. Tiring of that part of the county, in 1935 he made his way to Florida with his friend Louis Stone where they co-founded the Stone-Morris School of Fine Arts. A few years later Morris left the East coast and made his way back to New Mexico. By the 1940’s Morris was commission by the government, like many others in the WPA project, to create artwork and paint murals in Federal Buildings. Many of these paintings have been lost. In 1944, Morris served in the Navy in WWII, and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. It was dismal there and he was too busy to paint, but he did sketch the surrounding area. When his service ended he returned to Santa Fe, marking a time when his painting took a more modern flavor of modern impressionism. He was recognized as one of the five leading artists in the country. His residence was located on Canyon Road with his art studio and gallery a few doors down at 616 Canyon Road. For over 30 years he lived and sold his work from Canyon Road. Morris used basic bold colors in oil while he painted his watercolors in soft, delicate colors. Many times he would sketch an idea and put it away, sometimes for months, before working on it again to refine it. Some of his works were painted several times. When asked what is the story behind his paintings, he would respond by asking, “what story does this painting tell you?”