Student has art showcased in Helland Center


James Fate has a secret painting technique for creating his pieces. (Photos: James Healy/City College News)

By James Healy/[email protected]
Photo Editor

Q: How long have you been painting?

I haven’t been painting that long at all, not even a year.  But, I take it very seriously so I pour my heart and soul onto each canvas I stretch. Presently, I’ve painted about nine paintings, all in the same style, each one in it’s own original way, and even if I didn’t sign them you would still be able to say, “that’s a James Fate.”

Q: Who are your artistic influences?

First I would like to say that my biggest artistic influences are Mark Rothko and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I’ve always been interested in art and as a hobby I would often read biographies of great painters and spend many hours looking at their work. I didn’t paint myself and yet, while studying these masters of art, an idea began to form in my mind from one simple question: what was it that separated these particular artists form all the others? That one single question made me realize what great art really means. It’s not an easy thing to do but it’s this: no matter how simple or complex the painting itself is, all you have to do is just create something so original that can’t be ignored.

Q: What is the title of this piece? What does it mean?

The title of the painting is No Mercy. In this specific painting I feel that no one color gives mercy to another. They blend in and yet they stand apart. They flow in one direction and yet, they all have a different start. They don’t compromise, they don’t sacrifice for one another and they have no mercy.

One of Fate's paintings is currently being showcased on the second floor of the Helland Center.
One of Fate’s paintings is currently being showcased on the second floor of the Helland Center.

Q: Where did you get inspiration for No Mercy? Did you know what you wanted it to be when you started?

Honestly the painting didn’t take me a long time to paint, nor did I know what it would or should look like before I started painting it. All I wanted to do is create an original image that can’t be ignored. My inspiration is the colors themselves, meaning mixing a simple blue and red, adding a little bit of white and all of a sudden, a rich beautiful variation of a purple emerges. That is my one and only inspiration. The colors.

Q: Describe your style. What materials do you use?

There’s a secret process which I’ve accidentally developed to bleed acrylic paints and make them look like water colors which I can’t share. I stretch all my canvases myself and use only acrylic paint. The bigger the canvas the better. I imagine it one day filling someone’s big wall in the living room, or hanging in some museum.

Q: What’s your ideal setting to paint in?

My ideal setting to paint is in a large space, alone and somewhere silent, although while I paint I like to talk to my painting saying such things as, “Oh how I need you” , “Oh I wanna kiss you so much”, as if I’m making love.

Q: How did you get your work displayed in the Helland Center?

 The way the painting ended up on display was a bit of surprise to me when my instructor, Lynn Bowman, came up to me at the end of the semester and asked if he could put it up for display while mentioning that in all the years he’d been teaching art there’s been but a few of his students that made it big in the art world and now have paintings in world class museums and he said that if I continue to paint that I would be like one of those students. It was a huge compliment and I thank him for it and the opportunity to showcase my art.


Visit the second floor of the Helland Center to see No Mercy in person. To view more of James Fate’s art, send him an email at [email protected]