JIM DUNBAR was born at Mambasa Mission Station in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 18 February 1949. His parents were evangelical missionaries, based in the Congo, and Jim grew up there. His education was a disrupted mixture of home tuition, no tuition and Scottish, English and American curricula and systems. His mother was originally from Auchterforfar Farm, Kingsmuir, Angus, and the family returned to Angus from time to time. They bought a house in Carnoustie in 1964, to provide a home base for the future. Jim was enrolled at Arbroath High School, where he had earlier had a short spell, and the Art Department became his sanctuary. His parents were, meanwhile, back in the Congo, or Zaire, as it had become.In 1966 Jim's father suffered a heart attack and Jim had again to break off his education to return to Zaire to bring his family home. He eventually retuned to school and won the Art Dux medal and a place at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee.
He studied Drawing and Painting at art school, graduating in 1973, and he gained a Post Graduate diploma (Commended) in 1974. He taught in Angus schools from1977 becoming Principal Teacher at Websters High, Kirriemuir and Arbroath High School. He retired from teaching in 1999 and now paints full time.
Jim was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 2007. He served as Vice President (East) from 2009 -2012 and is still actively involved in support of the RSW. In 2013 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society and a member of the Royal Glasgow Insitute.
For oil painting, Jim uses a very fine linen canvas glued to plywood and primed. This method makes a strong and durable surface for painting It eases handling outside for on site painting. It is less liable to denting and cracking and is unaffected by room temperature changes. He uses ‘Artists quality’ pigments selected for their permanence and builds each painting through a sequence of layers.
For watercolours, Jim paints on Saunders Waterford 300lb and 200lb CP / NOT watercolour papers. Although this weight of paper does not need stretching, Jim prefers to have the paper attached to a board for ease of handling outdoors and on site painting. The pigments are ‘Artists quality’ and have been carefully chosen for permanence. White is used sparingly as Jim’s technique is the traditional transparent method.
In both watercolour and oil painting, Jim always uses a reference either set-up in the studio as with a still-life or portrait or working on site in the landscape. If he requires further references for a work, he will make studies both in colour and black and white from the source and refer to these back in the studio. He never uses photographs. The watercolours by nature are more direct and hence take less time to produce. The oil paintings on the other hand can take up to six or eight weeks. Before embarking on a large oil painting, Jim will make many studies and compositional sketches before finally preparing a board. This method ensures the correct proportions and scale for the final painting.