This structure, believed to be from the Garden Valley property of his youth, calls attention to James Castle’s role as documentarian of rural life in the Pacific Northwest. Castle’s ability to record the ordinary landscape of this region helps fillShow More in historical gaps, particularly in an often overlooked area of the country. This drawing also displays Castle’s ability to achieve diverse tones from his simple mixture of moistened soot.
Castle regularly collected shards of colored glass. Most often, these were “collected” while he was washing dishes. When Castle came across a particularly interesting colored drinking glass, he smashed it and pocketed the pieces. Later, heShow More dipped them in water to survey his surroundings, taking in the blurred, colorful landscape. This drawing also shows Castle’s ability to work color into found materials, sometimes using a stick to rough up the surface of paper to create texture and a more absorbent surface.
This interior scene shows Castle’s studio/bedroom at their Boise home—now part of the renovated James Castle House. Castle drew this space many times, often switching the vantage point. The three uniform hole punches atShow More the top of the paper reveal the origins of this found material—discarded homework.
Porch view / road
This rural porch view has a photographic quality that takes to the warm, atmospheric tone Castle coaxed out of his materials. Paper with a rougher surface tended to soak up more of his soot compound, allowing Castle to develop saturated tones.
Many people wouldn’t bother to notice doorknobs, let alone examine them so closely. Castle, however, elevated ordinary objects by doing just that. With only minimal markings, he created a striking, visually arresting profile image ofShow More an oft-overlooked element of the home. The symmetrical composition, different colored knobs, and stylized features of the latch highlight Castle’s curiosity and sophisticated decision-making processes.
Castle focused much of his attention on the built environment, both inside and out. For someone so enamored with architecture, the interior of a barn would have been a wonderful place from which to examine the exposed raftersShow More and beams as well as the large, pitched roof. The barn also would have been a very stimulating, immersive environment for Castle with the smell of the animals, the hay, and the sight of light filtering through open slats of wood.