Artistic talents fill Jim Daly’s life with blessings

Artist at large James Daly maintains a refurbished studio with an eclectic collection of unique items displayed on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Artist at large James Daly maintains a refurbished studio with an eclectic collection of unique items displayed on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Scioto Arts thriving in rural Royalton

 by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer 

James Daly wanted to be a woodworker. Growing up along the Scioto River in Ohio, he lived directly behind a lumber mill.

“My mother saw that I had talent,” Daly said. “But then I got to toying around with painting.”

He attended Columbus College of Art and Design on a scholarship.

Daly supported himself for a number of years as an artist. “I was always slinging paint of some sort,” he said.

He painted portraits, painted houses and made signs. His portraits are done mostly from photographs, and he continues to do four to eight each year.

The murals that Daly crafted in Ohio include two large outdoor images. One is in LaRue, a visual history of the town on a building next to the town’s old depot’s location. Another was done on the rail depot in Mount Victory.

More recently, Daly painted five imitation stained glass panels on plastic for an Advent event in North Prairie. He depicted the five luminous mysteries of the Rosary.

“My favorite was the baptism of Jesus,” he said.

Daly has worked construction jobs in the past, everything from framing and installing trim to installing drywall and doing interior painting.

While still using his skills with wood, Daly has probably spent more time in his life painting than anything else.

“Working with wood is actually easier,” he said. “I experience more mental resistance when I go to paint.”

Daly works in chalk pastels, oils and watercolor.

When he relocated to Central Minnesota, Daly and his wife, Catie, and two sons first lived in Upsala for several years before moving to rural Royalton in 2006.

“This was the first place we heard of for sale,” Daly said. “We gave ourselves three weeks, and looked at about 15 others. But we kept thinking about the oak trees, the cute house and the outbuildings.”

Continuing a tradition begun years ago of drawing an annual Christmas card, Daly sits at his drafting table to fill in this year’s drawing.

Continuing a tradition begun years ago of drawing an annual Christmas card, Daly sits at his drafting table to fill in this year’s drawing.

Daly knew that the granary would be his studio. “Once it was insulated, it would be easy to heat.”

He rewired the house and installed all new plumbing.

“I didn’t realize 20 acres could keep a guy so busy,” he said. “The barn has had a new roof and there is a new septic system now. I’ve spent a lot of time in the shop fixing things.”

Putting his woodworking skills to good use, Daly has built shelves in the living room, designed and built a sliding barn-type door for the bathroom and turned the stairs around.

“The landing was cramped and hard to move around on,” he said. “After taking a couple of tumbles down the stairs in the dark, something had to change.”

After being nominated as a Master Artist by the Five Wings Arts Council in 2011, the $1,000 cash prize was just what was needed to insulate and heat the studio.

“Our dream is to have kids out to visit the farm,” Daly said. “Many kids have never been to a farm. I want to turn the studio’s second floor into a bunkhouse.”

Daly crafts stool with a variety of contoured seats. His popular version is a “man on the moon,” featuring a seat in the shape of a crescent moon, with textured face.

He also turns out canoe paddles with a number of different handle styles, paddle variations and possible designs for the paddle.

In about 2004, Daly received a hit on his Web site from someone at Minnesota Bound wanting to do a story on his handmade canoe paddles.

“I thought it was my brother playing a joke,” he said.

After posting one of his Christmas card designs online, he heard from a Baptist church in Tennessee wanting to use the design for their members.

“I jump from woodworking to painting to sculpting,” Daly said. “I’m an eclectic type of artist, a kind of ‘renaissance man.’”

“What I really like is how you can see movement in his paintings,” Catie said.

Daly works at Redwood Industries in Pierz, while Catie is a school bus driver for the Pierz District.

The Dalys raise chickens, turkeys, sheep, a horse and a donkey.

“The donkey lives here to watch the sheep,” Daly said.

Catie tans sheep hides and spins the wool.

“I feel very blessed that I have these gifts, and look forward to continue to use them,” Daly said.

For more information, call (320) 584-8171 or visit on the Web at www.sciotoarts.com.

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