James Lutzko's search for beauty often takes him no farther than his own back door, across a nearby alleyway, or down to the riverbank. As a result, during an 26 year career, Lutzko has recorded in soft, meticulously rendered detail, the changing urban landscape of Calgary.

Lutzko's work often depicts the tension of contrasting elements of architecture which are played against nature.

The artist sees it as striving for balance, extending the concept of ying and yang, using the softness of organic elements against the hard lines of structure.

For years Lutzko has painted "open air", or on site, and the resulting immediacy of his work is imbued with a freshness and vitality that reveals the softer side of light and shadow. With short, gentle brushwork, Lutzko paints in soft palettes that depict the clarity of light on winter's snow, the luminous quality of water, lacy fronds of leaves that frame a church, the pale sculptural strength of a stone bridge.

Lutzko developed a passion for painting on site early in his career. "It is a constant challenge," he says. "Its always different, always changing." In recent years he has moved away from oils to acrylics, working on larger canvases. His attempts to capture and record fleeting light conditions is directing his style toward greater impressionism, building up and breaking down solid lines of colour into patterns of space, creating "more painterly paintings."

The self-taught artist began his career painting mountain scenes, and selling them on the Stephen Avenue Mall. A parallel career in graphic design later led to commercial painting, where Lutzko has established himself as a renowned muralist in the city. He uses the varying locales of his commercial work to seek out spaces that typify the balance between structures and wilderness within the city.

During a recent trip to Africa, the Kenyan culture left a deep impression on Lutzko, and he is currently working on an African series. Even in a land half a world away, he found similarities, a connection to the Canadian landscape.

Born in Melville, Saskatchewan in 1963, Lutzko moved to Calgary at a young age. But his native province's subtle beauty and tremendous skies imprinted on him a desire to incorporate many natural components in his cityscapes, to explore the minutae of beauty, to always take a closer look at his world.

James Lutzko continues to paint comissioned and inspired works in the City of Calgary for an international clientelle.