Living and working on the Umatilla reservation in eastern Oregon, James Lavadour responds in paint to his experience of the land and the teachings and legends of his Walla Walla heritage. Painting in the early hours between 3 and 4 a.m. allows Lavadour to work without interruption, without natural light, and without too much conscious thought.
A self-taught artist, Lavadour uses a wide range of (sometimes unorthodox) techniques to apply paint. He works on up to 100 paintings at a time, shuffling through them with a new color with each pass, learning something new with each new application. Layering, pouring, scraping, and brushing, the artist acknowledges each effect as the pigments interact on the surface and suggest natural landscape phenomena.
His paintings—often multi-paneled groupings—resemble landscapes, but do not depict specific places. Instead, the artist states, “The land and I are one.” He views his paintings as extensions of himself. Therefore, they are also one with the land, rather than illustrations of it.