James Shay is a Marin-based architect and painter. I’ll level with you and tell you that when I first saw this painting, which is one that we have, I did not like it that much. My wife wanted it and it basically turned into a “whatever” moment. But in the years since I have grown fond of it and it has come to define the room that it is in.
The aspect of his work, and I don’t even know if he’s widely known or more regional, that I’ve come to appreciate is the texture. His paintings are done with casein, a protein extracted from milk, and tempera and he uses a variety of scrapers and abrasives to achieve a worn look that warms the paintings considerably. I can’t quite explain why I’m so attracted to this painting now, but that’s the magic of art and it doesn’t need to be understood.
I tend to gravitate to sculptures, glass, carvings, furniture and other 3D forms of art, I’ve never had much interest in paintings. But this painting has been a lesson in art for me because of the way I have grown around it rather than having it fit some predisposed preference I carry with me.