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Artist Profiles
Written by Chloe Green

Central Oregon Captured in Paintings by Jacob Norris

Mt Bachelor Painting by Jacob Norris

With textured layers of oil paint, Jacob Norris creates depictions of animals, people and landscapes. His mission to activate the soul of every subject he paints is evident in each of his pieces. “Mostly going on instinct, I’m constantly asking, ‘What if…?’” Norris explained.

As a native Oregonian, Norris has​ grew up alongside many of the landscapes he now paints, which inspired and activated his creativity ever since he was young. His childhood was marked by journeys along the Oregon​ Coast and through Eastern Oregon, courtesy of his father’s endeavors setting up hardware stores around the state. Homeschooled in 5th grade, Norris spent countless hours immersed in​ field guides on Pacific Northwest birds. This period not only marked a pivotal year in his education, but also ignited an enduring connection with birds, an animal that continues to be a prominent muse for him and his work.

Great Blue Heron Painting by Jacob Norris
Great Blue Heron Painting

The rich tapestry of nature ​woven into the fabric of his early​ experiences served as a wellspring of inspiration for his creative process. It was in his grandfather, a ​painter and maker, that he first found that magnetic pull toward art. “I remember going into his studio and smelling the paint and seeing all the brushes,” shared Norris. “I felt the bristles and remember being consumed by this overwhelming feeling of wanting to do this. ​There was something that just struck a chord in me.”

Central Oregon Painter Jacob Norris How it All Began

In high school, Norris found solace in a Mountain ​View High School art class led by Ken Roth, who would become a defining mentor for him. Immediately after high school, Norris began an oil painting apprenticeship under Roth’s guidance. “He opened my eyes to genuine experiences, sharing the authentic struggles inherent in artistic creation.” shared Norris. “He demonstrated a real-life example that one doesn’t need a preconceived plan when painting. Witnessing this unfiltered reality was crucial for me, allowing me to break free from constraints and explore my perspective.”

Norris’ first-ever exhibition was hosted by Roth and propelled him into various pop-up shows around Central Oregon. His work has​ been ​showcased at the High Desert Gallery, Sparrow Bakery, Lone Pine Coffee, The Commons Cafe and Taproom, FOUND Natural Goods and Cowgirl Cash. In the broader context of his artistic vision, Norris articulates a profound aspiration for the impact of his art, whether hanging in community spaces or private homes. He envisions his pieces serving as catalysts for a deeper connection to the everyday human experience. “My hope is that even when someone is going about their day-to-day, my piece will inspire them to feel that they are the painter or creator of their day,” he said.

Norris paints in his studio as well as en plein air,​ allowing him to connect with the natural elements he is working to capture. A viewer can feel the rawness of the natural world in his work.

Shevlin Rim Painting
Shevlin Rim Painting

Another dimension that characterizes Norris’ artistic process is his collaboration with his father, Walt Norris. Jacob paints directly onto hand-built wood substrates made by his father and framed with 100-year-old repurposed barn wood. ​This collaboration adds a layer of personal connection to his work, amplifying its quality and durability. Family is important to Norris and he dedicates much of his art to his wife and three sons. “Without them,” he shared, “my work just wouldn’t have that pulse of love and energy.” See jacobjnorris.gallery.

Read more about Central Oregon artists here.

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