The expression that there is beauty in nature is evident in the myriad paintings that artists create of landscapes, fields and forests. But artist Jay Scott sees a natural beauty in agriculture, and has included portraits of farmland in his portfolio. His illustrations of peanut fields capture the subtly sublime scenery of an agricultural setting, and in an abstract way, acknowledge the human element involved in crafting the landscape. In resplendent allure, he commemorates on canvas the magnificent splendor of farming, and he dedicates these works to those who serve in the fields.
Near the back of a vast showroom in a design studio in Atlanta’s trendy upper west side hangs Scott’s gallery of art. His works add vivid color against the backdrop of white walls with a variety of depictions ranging from abstract splashes, to bucolic images of picturesque landscapes. The diversity of his work reflects the diversity in his background and training.
Trading a jersey for canvas
“I started out playing football for the University of Arizona in 1996. I was on a full scholarship back then. Art was my major, and I just found myself not wanting to be on the football field, but to be in the studio more” said Scott. “I actually gave back my scholarship to go out to Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California. That put me directly into the art realm doing commercial art for the movies, doing a lot of stuff for big companies and projects.” By the time he graduated in 2002, his career was already taking off.
“I was doing a lot of work for the movies at the time. On the side I was doing fine art jobs. I was doing a lot of work for people in Atlanta, specifically a large interior design firm. I decided that that was the best place for my artwork and we ended up moving out here,” he said. From commercial projects for Warner Brothers Studios, to fine art pieces commissioned by celebrities including T.I., Lil’ Wayne, and Queen Latifah, Scott found success painting custom works in the Atlanta market. And in Georgia, he also found inspiration from the diverse landscapes and natural settings across the state. That’s inevitably what led him to paint a field of farmland.
Bob Parker, president and CEO of the National Peanut Board, met Jay Scott at his studio one day as he was painting. After learning about Parker’s connection with agriculture, and his history of growing up on a peanut farm, Scott told him about a painting that he produced of a farm in South Georgia. “It wasn’t a peanut field, but I believe it was cotton,” said Scott. Parker was inspired by the beauty of the painting, and realized a similar painting of a peanut field would be a thoughtful way to commemorate the volunteer service of the Board’s outgoing members.
For the past three years, Jay Scott has produced paintings for each member whose term on the Board is ending. And he customizes each of the paintings to reflect the subtle nuances of the different growing regions and individual farms. “Each one, I try to capture the state that they’re in, whether it’s in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, or Georgia. There’s still slight differences that I think you can pick out what those are known for. It was neat to see those differences,” he said.
The variations in the paintings are a special tribute to the farmers receiving the artwork. “I think back to the individual details, even the growth of the plant itself. I know in Mississippi you have the real dark soil. I incorporated that in there, versus west Texas. There’s more of an arid, dry, almost reddish soil. It’s little things like that, that honestly, the viewer, unless you worked on that peanut field and worked in that dirt every day and touched it every day, and saw that same view every day, they wouldn’t notice,” said Scott.
“I put myself in each individual farmer’s frame of mind, and thought to myself, ‘Okay, this is a gentleman who might have been at that peanut field for 20 years.’ So I want to capture the little things that he would definitely notice that other people would not – irrigation and dirt color and things like that. Let’s face it, the average viewer isn’t going to see that, but I thought it was really important to capture it for them. Like I said, those small details are what matter in these type of projects.”
Memorializing a fallen farmer
And when he learned that one of the Board members passed away before finishing his term, Jay incorporated a thoughtful dedication in the painting for the surviving family. “I concentrated on the clouds a little bit more. I put an angel in the clouds, which was a cool addition, just a little special thing for the family, to let them know that we’re thinking about them in that tragic moment. Those type of things, I think, can bring good to a situation,” he said. It is in those distinctions that he is able to give individual meaning and character to each of his pieces. And it illustrates his admiration for farming.
Jay Scott’s paintings of peanut fields are more than just a colorful landscape of an idyllic setting. They are each a reflection on the art of agriculture. Captured in the image of loamy soil and rows of lush green crops stretching out to a vast blue horizon, is an underlying dedication and appreciation for agriculture. It is an homage to the life of a peanut farmer.