Julie Chapman, a Small Works, Great Wonders artist, has always had a passion for drawing animals and showing what is happening in her home – the West.
“I’ve drawn horses since I could hold a pencil, and that later broadened to include the wildlife around me,” she said. “I am deeply, endlessly fascinated by our animal brethren (I dearly wanted to be Mowgli in Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”), and since I live in Montana, my animal subjects are of this place. Therefore, what I create is ‘Western art’, based on my definition above.”
The varied art of SWGW gave viewers a glance at the many interpretations of the American West. Ranging from classic Western scenes to contemporary interpretations of the West, art buyers have a chance to see what the West means to them personally. There is still art available to view and even purchase and bring home.
To Chapman – and to many of the artists who participate in SWGW and other art shows and events at The Cowboy – depicting the American West through art is important for many reasons.
“For those of us who live in and love the West, art that reflects this unique and deeply held sense of place speaks to our souls,” Chapman said. “And as we see the compounding effects of climate change ripple through the West, we artists have an especial burden – and ability – to call that out in our work, to ask all of us to take action.”
Chapman describes her style of painting “disrupted realism.” She draws inspiration from her personal experience, memory, emotions or from reference photos. To bring reference materials to life in her art, she comes to the material “with a concept or emotion in mind” and looks for “imagery that can adapt to support my concept.”
“This “disrupted realism” journey that I’m on is difficult to plan, unlike my prior scratchboard work (where everything had to be planned meticulously),” Chapman said. “So much of it relies on the organic interactions of paint, tools, and media; I can do some digital ’sketching’ of my design with Photoshop or iPad, but that gets me only about 20% of the way along.”
Even such a colorful and emotional work of art requires serious time, preparation, and edits before she has a completed work.
“I redraw my composition on top of the abstract, then start on the oil paint work. This is the most difficult stage: I am seeking to paint more than just what’s there, with fragments and swipes and drips to suggest movement, time, behavior,” Chapman continued. “I sometimes spend almost as much time taking paint off as I do applying it; I’m searching for “the right amount of not enough”. The last 20% of the piece can take 80% of the time, as I walk away, come back, look at a small image on my phone, turn it upside down, etc., etc., etc.”
There are still Small Works, Great Wonders original works on display now through November 28 for all visitors to view and enjoy. And if you fall in love with a piece there still is time to bring the West home.