Soft-spoken and modest, Jim Daly would seem a reluctant celebrity. Still, his tender and nostalgic portrayals of children have earned him a wide and ardent following among collectors.
Born in Oklahoma and raised throughout the West, Jim developed an early appreciation for the art of Norman Rockwell and at a young age knew he wanted to be a painter himself. He can recall (and his parents still own) a painting he did at age 13 of an old-fashioned barbershop. "Even back then," Daly says, "I had an interest in the past ... and I still prefer the warm palette I used then."
After a stint in the army in the mid-1960s, Jim studied nights at the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design while working days at an aerospace company. Within just a few years, Daly was able to devote himself entirely to his art. His love for painting children began when he started using his four sons as models. He further developed his talent by studying the works of great artists.
"The excitement I felt when I first viewed the art of Michelangelo, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, J. W. Waterhouse and, my hero, Norman Rockwell, inspired me to begin a never-ending search for the same truth in my own work." Daly believes in following the lead of his creative instincts and his emotions, rather than focusing exclusively on the technique of painting: "Creativity is never quite knowing what you’re doing. The best things happen when you let go and let the spark that flows through all of us lead the way. It’s as strong an emotion as I can imagine."
For Jim Daly there was no career choice; he had to paint. “I cannot not paint,” explains Daly. “Painting is who I am. It’s a sickness for which there is no cure…a deep emotional feeling that is with me always and for me there is no escape from it.” Jim Daly's paintings of children reflect his boyhood growing up in his native Oklahoma. He paints from moving experiences or observations in everyday life, saying that he enjoys telling a story through his paintings, intentionally not giving away everything. “I don’t want to give too much to the viewer. It’s important to leave something to the imagination because then it involves people in the painting.”
Painted primarily in oil, Daly’s canvasses are collected throughout the United States. He has received numerous awards including the Favell Museum Western Heritage Award for excellence in the realistic and accurate portrayal of early Americana, several People’s Choice Awards from the Western Rendezvous Show, and additional People’s Choice Awards from the Masterworks in Miniature Show. His paintings are represented in many private and corporate collections. Articles about Daly's work have appeared in Southwest Art, American Artist and Art West magazines among others and in a recent U.S. Art magazine poll Jim Daly was named one of the top twenty most popular artists. Jim Daly has also had the pleasure of illustrating three well received children's books. He and his wife, Carole currently make their home in western Oregon.
The emotion that drives Jim Daly to paint manifests itself in captivating subjects that take us on a sentimental journey, like treasured old photographs, lovingly preserved in a family album. But unlike the solemn black-and-white photos of long ago, his paintings evoke emotions for which there are no photographs - emotions which are universal. His paintings of children from another time remind us of ourselves as children. Though his paintings command our eyes…they speak directly to our hearts.
Lahaina Galleries is proud to represent the timeless classics of Jim Daly whose art is beloved by people of all ages and backgrounds. "Being an artist," he says, "was all I ever wanted to be. I’ve had no career decisions to make. I’m doing now exactly what I wanted to do when I was a boy. I’m really lucky - some people work so that when they retire they can take up painting."