When first joining Facebook in 2009, I discovered a work of art so divine, so heavenly, that it totally captured my attention. The title of his canvas masterpieces was aptly named Stairway to Heaven and it’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times – if not more – on social media in various configurations.
All Dogs Go to Heaven and All Cats Go to Heaven achieved worldwide recognition and accordingly reposted online in memory of a lost pet or loved one.
Little did I know it at the time or over the years since, but the creator of those paintings, Jim Warren, has lived right here in Clearwater for 27 years!
Jim says about Stairway to Heaven, “It symbolizes something that all the religions in the world have in common, and something that’s felt even by those who have no religion at all: the belief in – or at least hope for – a higher, better place. And yes, the painting was in part inspired by the Led Zeppelin song.”
But that’s not all. Jim is a Grammy-award winning artist and also an Official Disney artist.
Jim Warren began painting and selling his art in high school over 50 years ago. Now considered a “Living Legend of the Art World”, Jim continues to create his unique style of art seen the world over.
Jim was born in Long Beach, California. He began drawing at age two, and at seven, decided to become an artist. He won first place in a drawing contest, but after being notified, decided he instead wanted to become a magician.
At the age of 10, his attention returned to art. In tenth grade, he discovered the works of Salvador Dali and realized that his art, too, could be anything he wanted, with no barriers, no rules. He admired Dali’s brilliance, realism and colors.
During the 80’s, Jim began painting hundreds of magazine illustrations, movie posters, book covers and record album covers, most notably the Grammy Award winning cover for Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” in 1981.
Released in February of 1980, Bob Seger’s album “Against the Wind” was a huge commercial success, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 3.7 million copies and going 5X platinum.
Jim was commissioned to paint the cover for the album and it presented a new challenge for him – painting horses.
Although his specialty was people, he took on the challenge and the result was a unique painting which, over 40 years later, remains one of his most popular paintings. He’s also painted album covers for Prince and Alice Cooper.
The 90′s ushered in a new focus for Jim, that of the environment and saving earth. Jim painted Earth…Love it or Lose it, which received critical acclaim and was featured on numerous magazines, billboards and shirts. It also became a popular visual representation for the global environmental movement.
Linda Blair, actress and star of The Exorcist said, “Being an animal activist and an environmentalist, I find Jim’s portrayal of the animal kingdom and the environment, in relation to children and the rest of mankind, to be very enlightening.
Jim’s work continues to be featured on magazine and book covers.
Jim also paints in what he calls his “surreal/fantasy style” – paintings where women’s hair flows and turns into water or nature scenes.
In the mid-90′s, Jim began painting famous actors and incorporating celebrities and friends into his work referring to the works as “personalized paintings”. Jim painted Juliette Lewis, Wyland and Michael Parnell, CEO of Oakley Sunglasses.
World-renowned wildlife artist, Wyland said of Warren, “For 30 years, Jim Warren has been painting his way into the collective consciousness of people the world over. Self-taught, he developed his own style of surrealistic fantasy and has been compared to Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell and many other fine artists. But the truth is that Jim is an American original.”
Since childhood, Disney was one of Jim’s biggest inspirations. He found that it was a world where anything could happen, if only you believe. He was allowed by Disney to paint all of their characters and art, directed by their animators.
All of Jim’s Disney paintings are published and distributed by Collectors Editions and approved by Disney Fine Art.
In 2004, Jim’s collaborations with Disney were released as fine art prints. Jim continues to paint Disney characters and his own unique interpretations of Disney characters to this day.
In 2009, Jim began painting celebrities for the Fame-Wall project in New York and Hollywood (www.fame-wall.com), painting portraits and unveiling them with the likes of The Beach Boys, John Stamos, Kelsey Grammar, Kristen Chenowith, Brooke Shields, Chaka Khan, and others.
Mike Love, lead singer of The Beach Boys, said, “Jim Warren’s art is masterful in that so much of his creativity can transport its beholder to a place of transcendent beauty.”
Some of his paintings are tests of skill. His works titled, Seven Dolphins, Seven Hearts, and Seven Horses encourages the viewer to find seven hidden objects.
Today, Jim continues to expand on his work and creates wonderful new worlds on canvas.
When not in his studio Jim enjoys time with his family. He says, “Family has always helped either art directing or modeling for my mermaids or business. Currently, my son – aptly named Art, and my daughter, Drew, help me with my style of painting, PR and marketing. Jim has one cat named Jack.
Five years ago, Art also encouraged Jim to create abstract-style works, with paint dripping down. These have sky-rocketed in popularity.
I asked if he had a personal favorite painting. He said, “That is hard to say, it changes but usually the most recent one.”
Jim considers his greatest accomplishment to date to be the many communications he’s received from around the world from his fans sharing how his work has inspired them and made their days a little brighter.
Jim displays his artwork in galleries in Colorado, Nevada, South Carolina and of course, in Florida.
In Florida, his works can be seen in Wyland galleries in St. Petersburg, Key West, Sarasota, Port Canaveral, at the Disney Boardwalk Hotel in Orlando, and at the James Coleman Signature Gallery in St. Augustine. Very occasionally, Jim shows his works of art in Clearwater.
His portfolio of original fine art, illustrations, and portraits is available on his website.
You can also own the latest collection of Jim Warren’s work in a limited-edition book titles Art of Jim Warren – An American Original.
The book also contains Jim’s collaborations with Wyland, thoughts, and interviews.
Here’s just a small sample of his extraordinary works: