Jim visited Europe after graduating ASU in 1978 and traveled to many of the major museums to view the birthplace of modernism.  He came across abstract painting which at first puzzled him; he had always painted people, landscapes, etc., but now Jim was introduced face to face with an unusual, complicated language that he studied as a challenge.  He was in awe of the practice because of questions it raised for him about what abstraction can interpret and how to know when an abstract painting is good or even finished.  Jim learned formal technique in school, but he was drawn to the idea of unconsciously "doodling" with paint, not making a lifelike image but letting the materials become what they wanted to.  He was amazed at how he could learn from a painting as the colors responded to each other, and he, in turn, responded to them.  The fluid, intuitive aspects allowed him to tell a story through the basics of color, line, and shape and created a new language and dialogue.  To this day when Jim feels stagnant, he challenges himself to make abstract paintings because the process re-instills the creativity and vigor needed to look at his work critically through a different lens.