Artists of the Boro Calendar
August's "Ships Docked," by Jim Nonas, is just one example of his unusual technique, which he calls "Magazine Collage." Jim collages in his basement, using images he cuts out from magazines and glues onto canvas with decoupage. No paint.
This process started five years ago, totally by accident, says Jim, a 15-year resident of Glen Rock who works as a science teacher and wrestling coach at Teaneck HS. He also teaches Sunday School at St. Nicholas Church in Wyckoff. "One of our projects was to make a Byzantine-style icon. I was too cheap to buy tile, so I brought in magazines and assigned each (middle-school-age) child a color to cut out. The resulting 36" x 48" icons were amazing, and I decided this was something I could do myself." Since then, Jim has created 260 varied works, ranging from landscapes and seascapes to still-life, nature and abstract pieces.
"Inspiration comes from my mood," he says. "Sometimes I challenge myself with something I never did before to learn new techniques and skills. Other times I've been inspired by a hike or an image. Most of my spontaneous work occurs when I do landscapes, still-life, or abstract pieces." Jim's work has been compared to that of Florida-based visual artist Derek Gores.
For "Ships Docked," Jim used photo references. "I had made a similar one with sailboats that sold quickly, so I wanted to have another," he said. "This time, I was interested in doing a nighttime piece and using underwater diving scenes in the sky." The effort earned him 2nd place in the mixed media category at the 55th annual "Bergen County Art in the Park" show (October 2019) at Van Saun in Paramus.
An 18" x 24" piece can take on average 20 hours to complete, depending on the subject, how quickly he finds the right images, how big the artwork is – they range from 11" x 14" to 48" x 72" – and whether it is commissioned. "Commissioned work takes longer because it's personalized," says Jim. "Cityscapes take the longest because I need to keep the perspective. Sometimes I draw perspective lines, other times I go with instinct. Occasionally I'll make a light sketch on the canvas but not too often, because once you start gluing you can't see the sketch," he explains. He seals the work with more layers of decoupage.
Magazines are his preferred raw material, and he has "thousands, thanks to my neighbors," he says. "I like cooking magazines for color and texture. I also like clothing catalogs." Collaging is something of a family affair at the Nonas household – his three daughters have all made collages.
The Stable Art Gallery in Ridgewood featured his work in a November 2020 exhibit, and Stone & Rail has commissioned many pieces, on display at the gastropub. His art is sold at Creative Den in Glen Rock, Jafajems in Asbury Park and Rock House Gallery in Key West, Florida. The icons made with his students are on display at St. Nicholas in Wyckoff.
To see more of Jim's art, visit jimnonasart.com.