James Caudle

Published in Panhandler Issue 6.

James Caudle spent his childhood and early adult life growing up in the South which instilled in him a love of story telling and the Folk Art traditions. He spent several years learning techniques and searching for what it was that inspired him before taking a collage class. He has been cutting out little pieces of paper and gluing them to larger pieces of paper ever since. His mixed-media collages combine historic and graphic images in textured color field environments. Removing figures from their cast-off status in thrift store books and garage sale finds, he adds them to his own worlds; he gives them new life as the classic characters of the literary works with which he surrounds himself. The figures become heroic again when they begin to interact with each other on the canvas.  One of his favorite quotes is by the Surrealist Max Ernst: “Collage is two unknown elements meeting on a third unknown plane.” James begins with these unknowns and builds, seeking out, with glue and paint, the reasons for the interactions he is seeing. Two scraps of paper lying together or the random colors happened upon during the day slowly form themselves into the final work. He often feels as if he had happened upon a scene that is elusive or impenetrable, and he tries to make sense of the melancholic rituals which he observes coming together. Often, a random phrase read or lyric of a song overheard while deep in the process sheds light on the work he has been creating. The painting emerges, and he finds he has built a new story, new characters, to add to the lexicon. http://www.caudledmilk.com

Artist’s Statement

The images in this series are from fifty 5” x 7” collage “sketches” that I created over the course of two years. Originally conceived as a way to test techniques and sample the way pieces would look before committing to a larger work, they quickly grew into something far more complex. I hung them as a show entitled, “Negotiations & Love Songs,” which included an installation of my stacked source materials, a limited-edition show book, and a sculpture based on “Needles & Pins.” I continue to expand upon the themes and ideas generated from this series; most recently, I created a 4” x 8” paint/collage/screen printed “tapestry” based off of my 5” x 7” piece “Treaty.”


Acrylic pain, oil pastels, water colors, oil markers, pen & ink, water based wood stains, coffee grounds, graphite, typewritten lyrics to “Needles & Pins” by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono and excerpts from “The Waste Land” by T. S. Elliot, photo copies and laser print copies, lacquer transfers, acrylic gel mediums, copper oil paint, 19th century doctor’s medical companion, charcoal, 1930’s Jazz and Blues album calendar, adhesive vinyl letters, Michelin Guide to Spain, paper collage from a variety of second hand books and catalogues, canvas board, card stock, paper, postcards, found record sleeve, recycled book covers.