By 1973 Jim had firmly established his own studio practice in the backroom of a small gallery near 45th and State Line, a precursor to the former American Legacy Gallery. Over the next few years, along with his father, Harold, then shifting gears toward a position on the City Council, there would be multiple road trips as both were interested in developing an illustrated book of the rural Midwest that would be in part sponsored by Farmland Industries. Eventually the duo would publish "Farmland USA" (1975 Lowell Press). Their compilation of nearly 100 paintings sold over 15,000 copies along with multiple thousands of lithographs of these original watercolors. This unique approach to generating lithographs made Jim's art more affordable to the average individual and along with the book's success would establish JR 'Jim' Hamil as a renowned regional watercolor artist.
In 1977 Jim would marry Sharon Hide and the two built a studio on the back of their Prairie Village home having started work on a book of 100 original watercolors entitled "Return to Kansas" (1984 Southwind Press). Jim and Sharon would travel regularly to Colorado over the next several decades where the two maintained a Steamboat Springs (CO) condominium Jim co-purchased in 1974and where Jim would conduct workshops and watercolor classes in addition to developing paintings from these 'working vacations' that would provide content for their final book, "Colorado Treasures" which was eventually published in 2010 (Lowell Press).
(From 2009 Article) "On July 8, 2009, Jim experienced an Arterial Venous Malformation (AVM). Similar to a stroke, the AVM affected Jim's ability to walk, talk and function independently. Courtesy of the Rehabilitation Institute, Jim received physical, occupational and speech therapy to regain his lost abilities. Mostly having to work with his non-dominant hand, the numerous works that resulted certainly reflected his knowledge of the medium acquired in several decades of work. Over 30original works remain in our collection for display.
Jim's accolades throughout his 60-year career as a studio artist started, while as an artist at Hallmark, in 1968 during the "7th Annual National 'Watercolor U.S.A.' Exhibition" at the Springfield, Mo., Art Museum. Of the 169 paintings accepted, Jim's painting won the $250 prize of the Springfield Community Service league (mention Springfield Art Group responsibilities later in life). Along with several exhibitions with Watercolor USA and the Kansas Watercolor Society, Jim received the Kansas Governor's Artist Award (1990), Kansas City's "Best Local Artist (2003 Best of KC), Artist of the year" American Royal Western Artist of the Year" (1992), Johnson County Library Foundation's Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts (2003).
Jim delivered well over 100 in-school presentations to elementary and high school students throughout his career. Always proud to be a resident of Kansas, countless commissions and donated original works to the communities surrounding his home were generated during Jim's studio career. Many of these works include framed prints and originals that are currently on display and for sale and in an effort at preserving his Legacy as one of the most well-recognized regional watercolorists of his time.