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ARTIST NAME: Nicoll, James
ACCESSION NUMBER: 2008.102.002
DATE: c. 1938
MEDIUM: watercolour
SUPPORT: paper
DIMENSIONS: Actual: 30.5 x 35.5 cm (12 x 14 in.)
COLLECTION: Alberta Foundation for the Arts

ARTIST BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: James (Jim) Nicoll was born in Fort Macleod, Alberta in 1892, and he primarily grew up in Nelson and Fernie, British Columbia. He served in WWI, and after the war studied civil engineering at the University of Alberta. Jim started painting in 1930, while he was working as an engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Nicoll met his wife, well known Calgary artist Marion Mackay [Nicoll], at the Calgary Sketch Club in 1931. They married in 1940. In the years that followed, the two travelled around Western Canada because of Jim’s engineering job with the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1945, they settled in Bowness, a village just west of Calgary, Alberta. Jim was a realist painter, who worked primarily with oils. He was a self-taught artist who believed in representing the correct anatomy of objects, architecture, and people. He also disliked the pretentiousness that can sometimes be equated with the creation of art. In 1958, Jim and his wife travelled to New York to study with Will Barnet at the Art Students’ League in New York City. Like his wife, Nicoll was important to the creation of the art scene in Alberta and Calgary. He was the editor of Highlights, the bulletin created by the Alberta Society of Artists, and he eventually became the chairman of the Visual Arts Committee in Calgary. Nicoll primarily exhibited his work in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He also expanded his artistic tendencies into writing and poetry, and in 1980 his book entitled, The Poetry and Prose of Jim Nicoll was released. Nicoll passed away in 1986, approximately a year after his wife.

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve. 

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