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July 4, 2009

Portrait Of An Artist: Oakdale painter James 'Scotty' Higgins

Age: 70

City of residence: Oakdale

Daily Job: Part-time shuttle driver at Modesto Toyota

Family: My wife is Karen. Second marriage combined grandchildren and great-grandchildren total 14. We have six children.

Background: Grew up in Elgin, Scotland, and immigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1957. Spent two years on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic working on the Distant Early Warning System. Worked in Royal Victorian Hospital and Montreal General Hospital before immigrating to the U.S. in 1961. Drafted into the Army in 1962 during the Vietnam Conflict. Honorable discharge in 1964. Spent following years mostly in the auto industry in various capacities. Retired in 2003. Always dabbled in art, but started oil painting seriously about 24 years ago.

Art Experience: Encouraged in Elgin Academy in Scotland by teacher and artist Efron Selby. Studied in USA with American artists Buck Paulson, Bill Blackman and local artist and wonderful teacher Ed Garcia. Won several blue ribbons at county fair in the professional division.

Advice to young artists: Most artists are born with the natural ability. All you have to do is fine tune that ability by studying with established artists. They will teach you the little techniques you must know to produce credible paintings. You will eventually form your own style of painting, abstracts, landscapes, portraits, still lifes etc. When I was younger, I always watched Bob Ross on television, and many of my paintings are done in that style. My wife and I are hooked on "American Idol" and never miss and episode. It just goes to show that there are many undiscovered artists out there and you could be one of them. Follow your dream!

Favorite music/art/performance: By far, I would say "Phantom of the Opera." My wife and I have seen performances in New York and San Francisco. Colm Wilkinson has an incredible voice.

How do you reach people unfamiliar with the arts? Entering your work in county and state fairs and placing your work in local businesses. Some of my work can be seen in the service department lounge at Modesto Toyota. I drive the shuttle for that company. You can also e-mail me at

What would surprise people about your art? Well, it has never failed to amaze me what a simple brush and a little paint can produce, such as the impression of water and reflection, etc. I believe my paintings impart the feeling of peace and contentment -- something the world today can sure use.

Are you a visual or performing artist who would like to be featured in Portrait of an Artist? Send us information on yourself using the categories here. Also send us jpeg photo attachments of yourself and your work, whether it's acting, costume design, painting, sculpting, etc. E-mail the info to, with "Portrait of an Artist" in the subject line. Photos may be used in print and online.

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