I was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. My study of philosophy from Washington and Lee University, 1975, started me on a quest to be a well-rounded man. Between 1975 and 1992, I learned divergent skills and earned additional degrees in geology, 1981, and fine arts, 1992, from the University of Montana. I worked on a textile production line in South Carolina, as a mate on a dive boat in the Florida Keys, as a structural welder in Nebraska and as a minerals exploration geologist in Ireland, Scotland and Alaska.
Since 1992, I have dedicated myself to working as a professional visual artist engaged in the creation of cohesive bodies of original work using traditional fine art print processes. I have two principal bodies of work, one representational, (principally The South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project), and the other gestural abstractions. Works from both bodies have been exhibited in many venues, recognized by many awards and held in various collections.
about the work
"Lithography traditionally involves making a drawing on a limestone block from which you chemically process the image and print an edition. When I first started my study of lithography I fell in love with the rich drawing possibilities that this process offers. There is nothing like drawing on a grained limestone surface. It is possible to build rich tonal and textural passages as you work with different grades of lithographic drawing crayons and pencils. It can take many hours for the image to develop on the stone. After a time the image starts to take form or have a presence with which I can engage in a dialogue about its future development. This is when the fun begins. See my South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Series.”
Creal says, "A monotype is a one of a kind print process. Ink is laid up on a plate and manipulated to make an image from which one good impression can be made. There are no editions with this process. In my monotypes I enjoy the fluidity and speed of the process and most often explore non representational works involved in the interplay of textures, movement and variations in light and dark. I work to create strong formal abstractions with elegant gestural movement."
The Coastal Lithograph Project’s mission is to create a lasting body of lithographic work devoted to capturing the mood, spirit and rich diversity of South Carolina's coastal habitats and some of their extraordinary indigenous creatures.
Telling the visual story of South Carolina’s coastal habitats is my way to introduce audiences to their magnificent beauty, their significance as a vital ecosystem under stress, and their value as national treasures that need to be preserved for future generations.
My South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project is as much a passion as a project, combining my love of the rich drawing possibilities offered by stone lithography with my regard and concern for the viability of my native state’s coastal ecosystem. This is a project that will probably take me the rest of my life.
Some years ago, I began creating a series of award winning lithographs depicting scenes from undeveloped areas of South Carolina’s barrier islands. I am proud of these works and believe they and my future efforts along the Coast represent the best manner with which I might leave behind a meaningful body of work.
Project Reasons and Impetus
Project Sites for Research
I have identified approximately 25 coastal sites to explore for source material for this project.
Some sites are accessible only by boat and some I want to see from the air. I need to be able to access project sites for research and to photographically and graphically capture the atmosphere, details and vistas of the habitats and their inhabitants.
The photographs of the flora, fauna and vistas of the sites will provide a habitat inventory for the creation of hand-drawn, hand-printed, lithographic images. These images are not only to be descriptive of place but to capture an essence of the transcendent nature and spirit of this coastal ecosystem.
Project Image Story Lines
The finished product will be a limited-edition series of museum-quality lithographs that tell the visual story of the major defining habitats through landscapes of shore, dunes, climax maritime forests, island rookeries, estuaries, bordering rivers, tidal inlets and portraits of key indigenous plants and wildlife, including both feature/key species and threatened/endangered species.
Other visual story lines would include: geological/morphological features derived from aerial views, man’s impact through historical and economic activities: e.g. 18th century rice plantation impoundments now managed as migratory waterfowl habitat and impact of natural forces bringing change such as hurricanes, sea level rising and destruction caused by invasive species.
Project Aims and Ultimate Use
Ultimately, I want to exhibit this work in venues statewide and envision artist talks about the sites and habitats to accompany the exhibit openings. Each image can be discussed for its local reference and habitat significance in both what is proto-typical and anomalously distinctive. A natural out-growth of these accompanying talks would be discussions of mankind’s relationship with these environments and stewardship obligations.
I hope to create a lasting body of work that shares a heritage with the work of Catesby and Audubon is enriched by our current ecological understandings, advances the public recognition of the value of these special places, contributes to the cause of conservation and becomes a descriptive visual story of place to be enjoyed by future generations.
In 2013, I initiated a very successful Kickstarter capital campaign for the Coastal Lithograph Project. While this campaign has run its course you may still access the Project's Kickstarter site to see the project video, description and project updates.
The project was featured on it second day live for Kickstarter's Staff Pick of the Day and was front and center for anyone across the nation to see. The SC Arts Commission picked up on the story and ran an electronic article about my project on its Hub newsletter.
While the campaign funds provided for equipment, supplies, travel and lithographic production, they were not sufficient to fully fund the project in its entirety and multiyear commitment. Anyone wishing to support the work of this project, please contact me directly.
Inking up a lithostone for the printing of an edition in
the 2010 Barrier Island Series
Lithography is a time consuming, technically demanding two hundred year old print process practiced by few artists today. Lithographic prints retain with fidelity all the nuances of an artist’s drawing made on the surface of rare Bavarian limestone blocks. Lithography is possible, simply put, because oil and water do not mix. The artist makes his drawing in reverse on the stone with oil based pencils.
The image, once finished, must go through several critically precise chemical processes to enable printing. These processes create two distinct surfaces on the stone. One is an oil loving surface where the oil based media was drawn and the other is a water loving surface in the non-image areas.
PRINTING THE IMAGE
Printing the edition is an art-form in itself. It requires considerable skill and intense concentration. Each print in the edition is hand printed and considered an original work of art. In printing, the stone is wiped with a dampened sponge depositing a water film in the non-image areas. Then, a roller, charged with oil based lithographic ink, deposits ink only where the original media was drawn.
Paper is laid over the inked image and rolled under a special litho press transferring the image to paper. The printed impression, a mirror image of the original drawing is lifted off the stone to dry. The process is repeated for each print in the edition.
SELECTED AWARDS and HONORS:
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS:
SELECTED BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERIENCE:
1993 - Present
Owner of Creal's Studio and Gallery,
Create original artwork, (ongoing), and represent outstanding SC artist/printmakers.
1995 - Present
South Carolina Arts Commission's Arts in Education Program
Taught printmaking processes in schools across the state.
2009 – 2012
Exhibits Coordinator and Preparator,
Spartanburg Art Museum
Coordinate exhibition activities and prepare exhibitions
1996 - 2000
Milliken Art Gallery, Converse College
Created yearly exhibition schedules and coordinated all exhibition activities.
Minerals Exploration Geologist
Dresser Industries, Ireland and Scotland
Participated in the 1982 discovery of a world-class deposit of barite, lead, zinc and silver ores in central Scotland.
SELECTED SOLO AND FEATURED EXHIBITIONS:
2014 - South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project: Kickstarter crowd source capital campaign 2014
2014 - Art Fields 2014 Juried Exhibition, Lake City SC; 2014 SC Arts Gala, Columbia SC; Shifting Plates II, Upstairs [artspace], Tryon NC
2013 - Art Fields 2013 Juried Exhibition, Lake City SC; Carolinas Got Art Juried Exhibition, Charlotte NC; 2013 S.C. Arts Gala, Columbia SC; invitation to exhibit at 2013 South Carolina Biennial, Columbia SC
2012 - Jim Creal: Prints, Etheridge Center, USC Aiken, Aiken SC: “Shifting Plates: South Carolina Upstate Printmakers,” Metropolitan Arts Council, Greenville SC: Coastal Carolina University, Conway SC: Spartanburg Art Museum,
2008 - “Working Proofs,” Artist's Guild Gallery, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg, SC
2005 - “Contemporary Regional Printmakers,” Spartanburg County Museum of Art
2000 - Alte Kaserna, Winterthur, Switzerland.
1996 - “2 Printmakers: Doug Whittle and Jim Creal,” Presbyterian College, Clinton. SC • “Graphic Works,” Nina Liu and Friends Gallery, Charleston, SC
1995 - “Jim Creal Monoprints,” Tryon Fine Arts Center, Tryon, NC • “Running the Gamut,” The Arts Center, Spartanburg, SC
1994 - “Monochromatic Studies,” Nina Liu and Friends Gallery, Charleston, SC • “Visual Explorations,” Goodall Gallery, Columbia College, Columbia, SC, & Fluor Daniel Gallery, Greenville, SC
1993 - “Jim Creal and David James,” Sandor Tezler Library Gallery, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC