For Harrison, the Southern coast is a special place. While he may be best known for his nostalgic paintings of the rural South, Jim is an accomplished painter of landscapes and seascapes. In fact, painting the Southern seashore is where Jim’s work began. His love for the lowlands and coast of South Carolina runs deep, and he is as intent on preserving those images as the most dedicated conservationist. He accomplishes this through art, and nobody does it better. His seascapes are hauntingly beautiful and capture the unique timeless vitality of the Southern coast with its sand dunes, salt marshes, and palmetto palms, all in the inimitable Harrison style. “To me there is nothing quite so awesome as the Southern coast. To look out over an endless area of water offers a unique opportunity for peaceful reflecting. Never will I forget the beautiful summer day I headed my fourteen-foot Lonestar away from the public landing near Beaufort, South Carolina. I traveled east along the northern edge of Port Royal Sound through Skull Creek to the end of Pritchards Island. At that very moment, I realized the beach alone was not the coast. For the first time, with the impact of a sudden providential revelation, I became aware of the vastness and beauty of the entire area where the land meets the sea. It was a ‘love at first sight’ kind of thing that I knew was for real. I truly now love the coast.”
Jim Harrison's journey as an artist seems to have begun when he first climbed onto a sign painter's scaffold on the side of McCartha's Hardware in Denmark, South Carolina. The Coca-Cola sign that he began that day with his mentor, J. J. Cornforth, was the first of more than 100 similar signs he painted over the next few years and shaped the future work of this South Carolinian in many ways.