Featured Artist James “Kingneon” Guçwa

Painter James “Kingneon” Guçwa captures a timeless aspect of American culture in his dynamic portfolio focused on neon signs. See more by visiting his website.


photorealistic painting of a neon sign on a Chinese restaurant

“Golden Dragon” acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″


Creative people are, indeed, a fortunate lot. They may struggle financially at first, but I’ve learned that money is a fringe benefit; creating something from nothing is the real reward. It was always my ambition to become a fine art painter. After studying at various art schools, I was fortunate enough to paint side-by-side with the late contemporary painter, Gregory Gillespie.


acrylic painting of a neon sign

“CADI” acrylic on canvas, 10″ x 14″


As a young artist, the challenge was to earn enough to cover my expenses and still have time and energy to paint. Back then, I hand-painted signs for businesses to pay the bills. It was the vintage roadside neon signage from the ‘40s to the ‘70s that had always caught my eye.


painting of a neon motel sign

“Colonial Motel” acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″


My epiphany came when I painted those icons on canvas as fine art. After completing five large paintings, I stacked them in the back of my old pickup and drove to the Scottsdale gallery district. On the same day, two of the best art galleries in Scottsdale agreed to represent me.


painting of a neon motel sign

“Romeo Motel” acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″


It was because I presented a consistent, competent, and identifiable signature style of painting to the galleries that they opened their doors for me. It wasn’t long before quality galleries wanted solo exhibitions of my paintings, including two San Francisco and New York City galleries.


Figurative painting of a woman in front of a neon motel sign

“Lost at the Cadillac” acrylic on canvas, 45″ x 54″


These retro roadside neon’s were scattered across the country, so I bought an RV in search of those that might make great paintings. Back in the studio, I painted one after another. Over the years, I’ve painted hundreds.


painting of a sunset scene with a hotel sign

“Greasewood Flat” acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″


Using a photo of the neon sign, I draw it onto the canvas and begin to paint. I learned that in order to paint an illuminated neon, the airbrush was a useful tool. From oils, I switched to acrylics because of the fast drying time, and ease of use with the airbrush.


painting of a motorcycle and carnival ride

“Berry Go Round” acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 36″


When I paint in a photorealistic style, a large painting (48” x 64” or larger), may take me a full month of painting every day. To create an impressive solo exhibition, I’d need a dozen fresh works to fill a gallery—a year’s commitment. Eventually, Harley Davidson saw my paintings and asked if I might include a Harley within the composition. They wanted to take the motorcycle from the calendar in the garage to the walls of the gallery. When I agreed, they made me an “Officially Licensed” Harley Davidson fine artist.


acrylic painting of a red caboose

“Caboose” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 64″


By 2022, however, I had a desire to explore and paint other subjects. I still provided galleries with the realistically painted neons. But in addition I painted various subjects and styles, completing a series of Fauve portraits and pop art works. I doubt if I’ll ever jump off the edge and paint purely abstractly, but others have successfully taken that plunge. One never knows.


figurative artwork in front of abstract painting

“Caravaggio Meets Pollack” acrylic/canvas, 40″ x 48″


My goal is to experiment in order to find my fullest potential. The Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale represents my neon paintings, but I would like to find an additional, quality gallery that would show my more recent pieces.


James “Kingneon” Guçwa invites you to follow on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and X.



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