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Meet Eric J Chapman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric J Chapman.

Eric, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Like most kids, I began drawing at a very young age. From what my mother tells me, my first drawing was of a roadrunner (the actual bird, not the cartoon character) when I was 18 months old, then I dabbled a little for six months. At age two, I began drawing constantly. From that point until now, art has always been a part of me. I drew for a lot of years and often could make a little money here and there from classmates wanting something. I finally began painting when I was around 22. Painting came at just the right time for me. Drawing had lost some of its appeals and it became more work than fun. Oil painting had revitalized my love for making art. Looking back, I’m surprised that I took so long to make the jump to oil painting, but the expense of it was a deterrent, plus I really wanted to feel that my drawing skills were good enough to advance to painting. Painting is still something that brings me joy every time I pick up a brush. I have been fortunate enough to sell to private collectors throughout the US and abroad. I have participated in some group shows at the Springville Art Museum and there are a couple of businesses around the valley that have my work in their offices.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I doubt that any pursuit in life is prone to go smoothly. Art is definitely no exception. It’s a rather unusual business and doesn’t have quite the same road map that you see in a more traditional corporate environment. In addition to the struggle of establishing myself in the art market, I’ve faced many of the challenges that come with raising a family. In 2011, my wife of seven years passed away in consequence of a mental illness that she was battling. This left me caring for three very young children on my own and my whole life got flipped upside down. When this happened, I was working as a painter for a commercial art supplier and I was absolutely hating it. My relationship with them soon ended and I devoted my time and energy to my children. All this was very emotionally and physically taxing. I later remarried and had another child and from that, the dynamics of a blended family added to many of the joys and challenges that I was experiencing. While all this has given me some inspiration as to where to take my art in the future, it also can be difficult to juggle art and family. Sometimes I feel like I’m being pushed away from the canvas rather than towards it. This is the two-edged sword of doing art, you have the freedom to produce your work how you want to produce it, but you are also responsible for your results.

I have since learned that sometimes, a break from things is not only fine but necessary. A timeout can help me recharge my batteries, help me evaluate my direction and realign, if necessary. I think my challenges enable me to grow and improve.

Please tell us about your work.
I have always been fascinated in the world around me, especially those things that often go overlooked. Frequently, I find myself distracted by mountains, clouds, wrinkles in fabric and paper, texture on food, the way light is hitting something, etc. As a realist oil painter, I try to emphasize these things in my work. I prefer to use strong, vibrant colors that still retain a natural quality. My subjects are typically bathed in diffused daylight which allow a smooth gradation of values and shadows. While my still lifes often serve to emphasize the beauty of the objects I paint, nevertheless, sometimes they are steeped in meaning. For example, in my painting, ‘Mausoleum’ I have depicted a human skull encased in a group of art books. The formation of the books resembles a mausoleum. Behind the skull is an image of Caravaggio’s “The taking of Christ.’ This painting is an allegory for representational art history. The skull, like the bones within a mausoleum, represents the revered and deified dead art masters of the past, complete with religious imagery pushed to the shadows. The books, chronicling realist art movements and realist artists through time are the structure that carries this revered, but seemingly extinct tradition. Some reverence this discipline and seek to add to it, while others see it as dead art, relegated to the past. I like to work with meaning and I try to infuse narrative in what I paint and how I paint it.

How would you describe the type of kid you were growing up?
I grew up in a wonderful home where my parents taught me good principles and I felt loved. They also encouraged me to read a lot, learn new things, develop talents and be kind to others. I believe I have always tried to have a friendly and approachable demeanor. I believe that everyone has value and worth. I try to make friends or at least be friendly with the people that I meet. This has always been my approach to society. When I was young, my family often referred to me as “the peacemaker.” I’ve always been happy with this moniker.

Aside from my interest in art, I am also a guitar player. I have been playing since 1995 and it truly is a passion that is only surpassed by drawing and painting. I played in bands over the years and I love the interaction it creates with others. I love not only playing the instrument but also modifying it. I’ve expanded into also modifying my effects pedals and one day hope to build some instruments and effects from scratch.

My brain seems to hyper-focus on one interest at a time and every so often will switch to the next interest. So, for example, I will become obsessive over modifying a wah circuit and I will spend my time tweaking wah pedals, then my brain will switch interests and then I will obsess over guitar building and I’ll go shopping for wood, research the process and buy some tools, then I will obsess over a particular painting idea/method/piece, etc… This cycle goes on and on and touches all kinds of interests, from model building to electronics, to guitars, to art, to cooking and so on and so forth.

All this contributes to my personality. When I find people and interests that I love, I become dedicated to them. I am devout in my religion. I seek to perfect my talents, I maintain the friendships I developed in elementary, middle and high school. I write in a journal. The flip side to this coin is that if I’m not entirely interested in something, then my attention to it will be lacking. I have to remind myself that it shouldn’t require a profound interest to get most things done, otherwise, there would be many necessary things in my life that would not get the attention they deserve.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Esther Goodman

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