James McGrew Biography

A native of Northern California, James McGrew attributes his love for nature parks to his family camping trips and first backpack in Yosemite at just 4 months old.  He recalls an early interest in art and nature, constantly drawing/painting and began using pastels at 8 and his father's oils at age 10.  

A strong background in natural sciences (degrees in biology, chemistry and geology  and grad work for M.S. in Environmental Education) help James to carry on the tradition of 19th century artists whose images helped persuade congress to establish the Yosemite Grant, first state and national parks.  James is passionate about spreading awareness for preservation and continuing that legacy with his own art.  He lends his art background to his work as a summer seasonal Yosemite ranger/naturalist as he has for the past 18 summers.   He has also worked as a free lance illustrator and commercial photographer.

James prefers to paint direct from life and backpacks several hundred miles a year, painting almost daily.  He works to create paintings which not only visually portray a scene, but more importantly, to convey the emotions of the actual experience in nature. Today his award winning paintings hang in collections around the world and have shown in many solo, national and international exhibitions and plein air events.  His work has recently appeared in articles in Fine Art Connoisseur, Southwest Art and Outdoor Painter.  


2015 Invited to present and demo at 2016 Plein Air Convention, Tucson, AZ.  
2015 CA Impressionism; Plein Air painting Past and Present exhibit with Irvine Museum, De Ru’s, HBAC, and Laguna Plein Air Painters Assoc.  Huntington Beach, CA
2015 Yosemite Impressions Exhibition. Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite, CA
2015 Oil Painters of America National Exhibition, St. Augustine, FL
2014 Zion Plein Air Invitational.  Two purchase Awards.  
2014. Sedona Plein Air Invitational. Merit Award (judge Jim McVicker).
2014 Laguna Plein Air Invitational.
2014 American Impressionist Society National Exhibit
2014 6th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of art.  People's Choice Award.
2014 included in article in Fine Art Connoisseur July/Aug issue.
2014. Carmel Art Festival.  People's Choice Award and Honorable Mention.
2014 Article in Southwest Art by Bonnie Gangelhoff.  April issue
2013 Legacy Gallery Small works invitational (sold out).
2013 5th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art.  Best of Show Plein Air Magazine Award. People's Choice award.  Sold out show with record sales.
2013 Presenter and solo show, California EMC, Yosemite, CA.
2013 Howard Mandville Gallery, Annual Holiday Small works invitational.
2012 Debra Huse Gallery International Salon.
2012 Howard Mandville Gallery, Holiday Small works invitational.
2012  Publication in Outdoor Painter, Article by Steve Doherty
2012  CA Gems - group show.  Knowlton Gallery, Lodi, CA
2012  Tahoe Summerfest group exhibition.  Incline Village, NV
2012 Four person group show, Mtn. Park Gallery. Lake Oswego, OR
2011 Group Show; Mtn. Park Gallery, Lake Oswego, OR
2010 Invitational Small works, Howard Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA
2011 American Impressionist Society's National Exhibtion, Carmel, CA.
2011 Oregon Lavender Festival Plein Air.  (second place).  
2011 Caswell  Plein Air Competition. Troutdale, OR  (Silver Medal)
2011  Three person group show at Caswell Gallery, Troutdale, OR
2011 Lake Oswego Chronicles Invitational Exhibit (Honorable mention)
2010 Sierra Foothill Conservancy Plein Air Invitational (painting on cover of brochure/invitations/poster).
2010  Pacific Northwest Plein Air.  Hood River, OR
2009 Holiday Miniatures Invitational, Howard Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA
2009 Oil Painters of America, Howard Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA
2008, Solo show of 50 paintings at the Lawrence Gallery, Portland OR.
2004 Solo Show, Lawrence Gallery, Portland
2004 Work featured in Yosemite Lightdances DVD by Sterling Johnson.
2003 Arts For the Parks top 100 and Mini 50, Jackson Hole, WY
2002 True Miniature Invitational, Lawrence Gallery, Sheridan, OR.
2002 Solo Show, Mariposa County Arts Council Gallery
2002 Lake Oswego International Miniature exhibition, Lake Oswego, OR.  (1st place in pastel and 2nd place overall).  
2001 Solo Show, The Ahwahnee, Yosemite, CA
2000 Yosemite Renaissance.  Yosemite Museum.  (people's choice)
2000  Solo Show, The Ahwahnee, Yosemite, CA
1999 Solo show at Blue Heron Gallery, Ashland, O