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Mount Vernon Artist Spotlight: James “BuJo” Williams

A lady once told me my painting “scared her”. That made me feel great! I realized my painting caused a reaction or they related to it. Either way it’s doing something, which is what art should do.” James “BuJo” Williams is an artist and painter who was born and raised in Mount Vernon. His love for creating art began early as he used to draw birds from the dictionary. As a teenager he stopped creating and did not begin again until 1995 due to a lack of encouragement. During his break from art he became an inventory manager but didn’t agree with much about workplace politics. “I don’t see why I should have to screw somebody to get ahead”. With art you’re doing something to help someone.

Mr. Williams was also in the Air Force from 1966-1970 stationed Okinawa during the Vietnam War among other places. “I loved it”, he exclaimed and it helped him become a “very organized person”. The trigger that put the paintbrush back into his hand happened when visiting a family member and being shown their painting that he says,”was not that good.” He explained that it was too dark and there was no light source when before he knew it he was fixing the painting. This was the beginning of what can only be described as a passion. There are large crates full of paintings between his studio and garage. He has sold hundreds of paintings and probably has given away just as many. “Especially to children” he adds. “If a parent buys a painting I usually give the child one”. He gives away beautiful paintings. The “give away” paintings are mostly landscapes whose concepts he derives from the internet.

Mr. Williams did not go to art school and paints by spirit. He often lets the paintbrush lead him. When it comes to subject matter he likes to start with an idea, something like the first rain in spring. Then he moves on to the color but after that he allows the painting to tell him what to do. “There is beauty in the frustration” he says. The question he asks is always “where do you want to take people?” He has been taking seniors on his painting journey by volunteering for over six years at Mount Vernon’s Wartburg, which is a Senior and Assisted Living Facility. For the last three years ArtsWestchester has also awarded him a grant to do free workshops at both AC-BAW (Association of Community-Based Artists of Westchester) and the Mount Vernon Public Library.

In 2016, he was inducted into the Westchester County Senior Hall of Fame. He paints in oil and acrylic but his classes at Wartburg and the library are for acrylic painting. His paintings are intriguing due to the depth in his color palette. Mr. Williams is deeply into the craft. When I asked him for his advice on how to finish a painting of mine he tells me to enhance the values of light against dark and depth and use perspective and movement. He currently hosts paint and sips, birthday parties and fundraisers. If you are interested in contacting Mr. Williams he can be reached via email at wbujojames@