The Landscape’s The Thing

James Bohling finds wonder in Mother Nature

James Bohling was 4 years old the first time he remembers looking out the window of his dad’s olive-green Ford Galaxie 500 on the family’s annual summer road trip from Colorado to Nebraska. Now 54, he’s still sentimental about those drives and what he saw. “I have fond memories of cornfields and barns and the water tower from my grandmother’s town, Hebron, Nebraska,” says Bohling.

As he sits in the kitchen of his Stapleton home and studio, Bohling’s light-blue eyes shine with remembrance of things past—especially the aesthetic of those Midwest wide-open spaces. “I think places like Nebraska and Iowa and Kansas are more interesting than people give them credit for,” he says.

The Light You Find

Bohling mostly paints acrylic landscapes of plains, fields, hills, and mountains—the scenery from his childhood and current surroundings. His vibrant colors may seem exaggerated at first, yet they evoke the same awe that one feels when overcome by the magnitude of nature’s beauty.

County Road 4

“I don’t like to be too representational because I can get caught up in that, and I feel like it seems overworked,” he says. “What I like is in between abstract and representational.”

Storm Clouds

Bohling took random art classes here and there over the years, but his art career is in its infancy. The financier turned flight attendant turned artist dates his start back six years to his first class at the Art Students League of Denver.

Afternoon Storms

“When I was a kid I liked to paint; I liked to do artistic things. I was kind of creative, but it wasn’t like someone said, ‘Oh, you need to study this.’ ” Encouragement came by way of Art League professor Karen Roehl and some fellow students who nudged him to participate in the annual Summer Art Market. 

Western Slope Fields

“I was really nervous, but I kind of thought, ‘Well, if I don’t sell anything, lesson learned, no big deal. I’ll just paint for my own self,’ ” he says. “But the first year I sold 9 or 10 paintings, so I thought, ‘This might work.’ ”


Bohling’s work is currently on display at four locations: SYNC gallery (Denver), Main Street Fine Arts Gallery (Evergreen), Roan & Black (Saugatuck, Michigan), and Urban Luxe Real Estate (Denver).

View Over Lake Shore Drive

His father’s Galaxie 500 is long gone and there’s no mountain view from his one-room studio, but the artist draws inspiration from photographs, often manipulating lighting and composition to tap into the movement, feeling, and colors of his chosen image. And through his brush he works on holding tight to a scene that, in reality, is always fleeting.

Categories: Stylemakers