New Website, JamesKinnett.com -- a Touch of Class in a World of Mediocrity

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"A touch of class in a world of mediocrity!" wrote a recent visitor to James Kinnett's new website, http://www.jameskinnett.com. Kinnett's world class paintings can now be seen at his World Wide Web gallery http://www.jameskinnet.com.

"A touch of class in a world of mediocrity!" wrote a recent visitor to James Kinnett's new website, http://www.jameskinnett.com. Kinnett's world class paintings can now be seen at his World Wide Web gallery http://www.jameskinnett.com.

The website came about after two brothers, Alan and Jim Curtis, childhood friends of Kinnett's in Chillum, MD, renewed their friendships. The Curtis brothers work together in several Internet related businesses. They were surprised Kinnett had no web presence for his award-winning work. The childhood friends from the suburbs of Washington. D.C. formed Chillum Boys to market Kinnett's work on the web.

"I remember Jimmy was gifted in elementary school. His sketches were accomplished even then. We met at a reunion after 35 years and I was astounded by his paintings. Showcasing them on the web was logical," said Alan Curtis.

Kinnett's paintings, unparalleled in their realistic depiction of nature, may never have been created had it not been for a very realistic and adverse period in his life.

"You'd better go back and do your painting," Kay Kinnett told her husband. "It's God's gift."

So James Y. Kinnett picked up his brushes after a 20-year hiatus and, now, since his wife's cancer death in January 2001, has poured his attention into painting seven days a week.

As Kinnett made his way back to Maryland from his wife's family home in Texas, he worked on a design of black scoters flying over the Chesapeake Bay with Thomas Point Lighthouse in the background. He finished the painting in a hotel in Tennessee in time to enter it in the fall Federal Duck Stamp competition. He didn't win, but kept working to finish three more paintings in time for the Maryland Duck Stamp competition. Friends encouraged him to enter the black scoter painting as well. That proved to be Kinnett's winner.

Birds have always been winners for Kinnett. Born in Korea, he was adopted by an American service family, who brought him to Southern Maryland at age nine.

"I didn't speak any English and I expected America to be like the pictures in catalogues," Kinnett says of that time. "My memory is indistinct, but the transition was not so easy. I was in third grade and I found a baby robin. That's what started my interest in birds. Every day before school, I went out and grubbed for worms to feed that baby," he says.

Just as his unfolding interest helped Kinnett through the transition to a new land, it returned to help him recover after his wife's death.

"I've always sketched and drawn, but after I got married I had to earn a living so I dropped art and got into marketing and sales," he explained. "That's not important any more. I'm lucky to have a second chance. God wants me to do something with this talent."

Kinnett's paintings are watercolors,with the colors applied with a dry brush on dry paper to create an opaque image.

"The hardest part is to get a perfect blend of tones in the sky or the background," says Kinnett. "The birds are easy."

He works from sketches and his own photographs, using elements from a combination of shots and his knowledge of birds to create a unique image. In this case, a taxidermist friend sent detail-photos of wings, head and tail from a black scoter pair he was planning to mount. Maryland friends contributed their photo of Thomas Point Lighthouse. Kinnett created the total design and the pose of the birds.

Kinnett was working in the garden when he heard about his win. The solicitation he expected when the phone rang turned out to be the news that he had taken first place in the Duck Stamp contest. There's no monetary prize with the win, but the Duck Stamp award opens doors to book publishing and artist's prints as well as adding to the reputation and price of an artist's work.

So Kinnett doesn't know quite what he's won. "I don't know what this is leading to," he says. "I'd like to publish a book of Maryland birds."

But he sure knows that he's won. "The phone has been ringing off the hook for the last few days," says he. "It's wonderful. It's a culmination of all my hard work. I feel very blessed."

Samples of James Kinnett's art may be viewed at http://www.jameskinnett.com

-- Story by Sonia Linebaugh and LaSalle Park

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