James Picard

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James Picard
James Picard in his studio, 2006
James Picard in his studio, 2006
James William Pickard[nb 1]

(1964-01-25) 25 January 1964 (age 54)
OccupationPainting, Sculpture

James Picard (born James William Pickard, Jan. 25, 1964) is a Canadian artist, teacher and humanitarian. He divides his time between Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Los Angeles, CA.

His most recent series of paintings, The Dark and The Wounded, represents a visionary fusion of Expressionism and social consciousness. It's an immersive artistic experience; his paintings are showcased in some of the world’s most troubled locations, like abandoned prisons and asylums. It is currently on a global tour, opening in Alcatraz Prison.

Considered one of Canada’s foremost painters, Picard is well known for his extraordinary artistic range and mastery of many styles. He is also an extremely prolific artist, and is known to work on as many as 20 pieces simultaneously.[1][2] Picard has won many awards for his work over the course of his nearly 40-year career.

In addition to his artwork, Picard has close ties to Hollywood. He’s worked on numerous films and television shows, including Tim Burton’s 2014 movie "Big Eyes." He is also the subject of a documentary, "James Picard Off the Canvas." Some of the celebrities he has worked with over the years are also collectors.

Picard names Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt and Monet as influences. [3]

Early life and education[edit]

Picard was born in Burlington, Ontario on January 25, 1964. As a child, he was driven by creative forces, teaching himself to paint by reading extensively. By 12 years old, he was already entirely committed to his craft. Picard would draw for hours every day, despite a lack of support from his father.

Picard continued to pursue this artistic career in adulthood. Picard studied at Sheridan College and the Ontario College of Art. He worked with several artists: Cuban watercolourist Ramon Amor, Canadian sculptor Thaddaeus Szpelowitz, Canadian painter Harold Town. Harold Town stated in a written note that Picard's talent "is rare in the art world". [4]

In 1988 Picard moved his young family from Toronto to Vancouver, British Columbia where he raised his two children, Rachael and Simon Picard, while continuing to paint and sculpt. Since 1995, he has taught at numerous post-secondary institutions in the greater Vancouver region. He is recognized for his inspirational teaching.[5] Throughout his adult life, Picard has been active in humanitarian work in Vancouver, Los Angeles and New York City.

Current Work & The Dark and The Wounded[edit]

Picard’s working studio is in the Commercial Drive area of Vancouver. While he generally works in oils, acrylics, watercolors and inks, Picard is also a skilled sculptor. His artwork is primarily representational, and he has experimented with many different styles over the decades of his career.

His newest series, The Dark and The Wounded, showcases a bold, socially conscious expressionism. It is also more conceptual, even abstract, than his past work.

The Dark and The Wounded is an experiential exhibition. Each show explores dark and submerged aspects of the human experience, hoping to draw a public spotlight and help heal some of these wounds. This body of work draws on both personal and historical experiences for inspiration.

These works approach internal struggles, like fear and loneliness, as well as larger societal issues such as the prison system and child abuse. They are shown in some of the most troubled and controversial locations on the planet, including abandoned asylums, prisons and more. A custom musical soundscape, composed by Jeff Danna, is part of the experience. This is a radical departure from the art world’s tradition of showing contemporary art in white cube spaces. Picard is recontextualizing his work in this alternative locations to help viewers connect more deeply with the concepts, according to press releases.

Picard’s watercolors have also garnered critical acclaim. They were the subject of a book, "James Picard: Watercolors," and they’ve also been the focal point of many of his solo and group shows.

Picard's paintings and sculptures are in private and public collections.


Picard is an active and gifted teacher of art, both practice and theory. He teaches drawing, painting and sculpture in Vancouver at various post-secondary and community locations including Emily Carr University of Art and Design, North Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Picard Studios. He has arranged student shows to give students an opportunity to show their work. He is known for his inspirational teaching that focuses on the creative process. [6][7]

In 1998, Picard set up the first sculpture class for visually impaired students in the Vancouver area.[8][9] He taught students in Harlem, New York City for three summers from 1996 to 1999. In the summers from 1996-1998, he also taught sculpture to children in Harlem, New York.

Picard's creative philosophy is based on following one's own creative urge. He firmly rejects producing art solely for the demands of the market and has spoken out to artists and students, urging them to avoid doing so.[10][11]


Picard is devoted to philanthropy and humanitarianism, particularly children’s health and welfare. These are a few of the initiatives in which he’s been involved:

  • In 2001, Picard travelled to New York City to assist in helping children of the victims in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Along with fellow volunteers, Picard was commended by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in a ceremony.
  • Since 2006, he has organized regular fundraising events to provide art supplies to British Columbia's Children's Hospital.
  • He has also taught painting to children with cancer at the annual Camp GoodTimes since 2006 [12] summer camp organized by the Canadian Cancer Society
  • He worked with children, in 2006, to create art work for the Vancouver Compassion with Youth event, for the XIV Dalai Lama. Picard received a letter of commendation and was invited to have tea with the Dalai Lama, along with other volunteers, in recognition for the work he did.
  • In 2015, Picard’s State of the Art show in Vancouver donated a portion of the art sales to a local charity, the CKNW Orphans’ Fund.[13]

Selected Achievements & Events[edit]

  • 2017 - Grand Prize winner "New Media Film Festival" for the documentary The Dark and Wounded. Los Angeles, CA
  • 2008 Lonsdale Quay Gallery - James Picard and Students
  • 2007 (Annually since 2002) International Summer Centre of the Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 2007 Canadian Artist Series Stamp, Canada Post
  • 2007 Outstanding Instructor Award, 10 Years of Teaching, Vancouver School Board
  • 2006 July / August Blank Canvas Collaboration, Seymor Art Gallery [14]


  • 2005, April CBC TV B|Connected
  • 2004 Live painting with the Edmonton Symphony, Symphonia Masonica Composer George Blondheim [16]


  • 2004 - Ayden Gallery, Vancouver, solo show with over 100 pieces of work

[18] [19]

  • 2004, CTV Television interview on the Vicki Gabereau Show, February 11.
  • 2004 Art on Paper Fair, Royal College of Art, London
  • 2003 Invited to Rideau Hall to meet Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
  • 2003 - Pier 92, New York

[20] [21]

  • 2003 Gallery 1529 James Picard Watercolours Solo Exhibit
  • 2002 New York City Art Fair
  • 2002 Off the Canvas - documentary film by Chris Hooper, Trifecta Media shown on Bravo [22]

[23] [24]

  • (since 1996) New York School of Art, Drawing/Sculpting, Brooklyn, Sag Harbour, Long Island, NY
  • 1998 Clay Sculpture for the Visually Impaired


  • 1998 Artist in Residence New York School of Art


  • 1998, CTV Television interview, Vicki Gabereau Show, MAY.
  • 1997 Octavia Gallery Vancouver, Solo Exhibit
  • 1996 Top ten finish, New York Artists' Guild Sculpture Competition


  • 1996 Volunteer Vancouver Recognition Award
  • 1994 Top ten finish, Philadelphia Sculpture Competition
  • Artist to Stop AIDS
  • AIDS: A Struggle for Awareness show, proceeds donated to AIDS Vancouver[28]
  • 1987 New York International Art Competition, Outstanding Achievement Award


  1. ^ In 1990, he changed the spelling of his surname to Picard, the original spelling of his French ancestors.


  1. ^ Deitz (Spring/Summer 1998) "Investor's File" Modern Art Magazine.
  2. ^ Melendez, Jules (Summer, 2007) "The Artist at Work" Art and Artists Magazine, Ottawa, Ontario.
  3. ^ Morel, Eva (Spring/Summer 1999) "Spotlight Art" Artist Studio Magazine, New York.
  4. ^ Bennett, Chris (1998), "Names in the News", Writings on the Visual Arts in Canada, Premiere Edition.
  5. ^ Hoile, Jeff (May/June 2004) "James Picard: Very Much Alive" ArtsAlive Magazine.
  6. ^ Price, Al (March/April 2001) "Symposium 2001 Builds Excitement in the Arts Community" ArtsAlive Magazine, Volume 7, No.1.
  7. ^ Zimmerman, Kate (Feb 29, 2004) "Artist Gives Back by Teaching" North Shore News.
  8. ^ McLaren, Ross (April 8, 1998) "Sight Takes a Backseat to Feeling" The Vancouver Echo, Vol80, no.52.
  9. ^ Sullivan, Ann (May 20, 1998) "Sculptor Teaches Blind Students Art of Moulding" The Vancouver Echo, Vol89, no.40.
  10. ^ Lavin, Nancy (June 1997) "Transforming Energy Exercises in Experiential Reality" Times Educational News.
  11. ^ Cabanne, Maurice (Fall 2003) "Picard: The Mastermind Behind the Brush" Artworld Magazine, Montreal Quebec.
  12. ^ The Bean, Newsletter for Campers, Families and Volunteers, Volume XIX/Issue 4/Summer 2007 accessed June 15, 2010
  13. ^ https://www.cknworphansfund.com/james-picard-art-exhibition-support-cknw-orphans-fund/
  14. ^ McPhee, Erin (July 14, 2006) "Multi-media jam session goes public" North Shore News.
  15. ^ Guermos, Nicolas and Horvat, Steve (July/August 2006) "The Blank Canvas Collaboration Project" Arts Alive.
  16. ^ http://issuu.com/edmontoniansmagazine/docs/edmontonians_may_07/9
  17. ^ Rankin, Bill (June 11, 2004) "It's No Secret" Edmonton Journal.
  18. ^ CBC News Online with Trevor Hughes, April 1, 2004
  19. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2004/04/01/picardart20040401.html
  20. ^ CBC News Online with Trevor Hughes, April 1, 2004
  21. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2004/04/01/picardart20040401.html
  22. ^ Hughes, Trevor (November 2002) CBC Radio Arts Report http://www.trifectamedia.com/canvas/cbc.html
  23. ^ Jones, Brenda (January 1999) "Documentary Filmmaker Explores an Artist's Obsession" Vancouver Courier.
  24. ^ http://www.trifectamedia.com/canvas/profile3.html
  25. ^ McLaren, Ross (April 1998) "Sight Takes Backseat to Feeling", Vancouver Echo.
  26. ^ Bell, Mike (December 1977) "Artist Packs Bags for Three Month Stint in NY", Vancouver Echo.
  27. ^ Bell, Mike (December 1977) "Artist Packs Bags for Three Month Stint in NY", Vancouver Echo.
  28. ^ Mishima, Carrie (August 23, 1989) "AIDS Paintings Disturbing" Vancouver Sun.

External links[edit]