Our May 2013 Artist of the Month | Paul Chapman and his Acrylic Painting

Congratulations to artist Paul Chapman, who was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s 29th Annual Art Competition, in the portrait/figure category. We fell in love with his acrylic self-portrait, A Quick Brush Up (below). Keep reading to learn more about Chapman and his art.

A Quick Brush Up, acrylic painting, Paul Chapman

A Quick Brush Up (acrylic on canvas, 30×30) by Paul Chapman

9 Things to Know About Paul Chapman (by none other than Paul Chapman)

1. I remember that all the while I was growing up people told me I was good at drawing/art. I had nearly no experience with it in high school but in college, it was my major–Art Education.

2. For 35½ years, I taught art, mostly at the high school level. Now that I’m retired, I finally have time to devote to creating and improving my art. I try to paint every day.

3. I usually use acrylic paints. I love the fast drying time, even though it sometimes works against me. Thus far, the subjects that have become my paintings are: self portraits, industry, landscapes, still life, portraits and figurative work. The majority of my work, however, is in the realistic industrial landscape (interior and exterior) arena.

4. A Quick Brush-Up is something I thought about for a long time before it really took form. I see my image three times a day applying the brush to my mouth, noticing how the darker bristles make my teeth look as if I played hockey. I decided to take a break from the complex overlaps and perspectives of my industrial pieces and do something lighter. Even though this is usually a private moment I felt like sharing it because of the humor. Since I work from photographs, mostly, shooting this in a small bathroom and making it visually work was quite a challenge. I had to flip the image left to right, the distance to the door had to be altered and the lighting had to be changed–other than that, it’s just like the photo.

5. Sometimes the idea I’m working on allows me to work from life. That, too, is a pleasant change. The color palette I use for my underpainting is adjusted for tone, mostly, as I use up the colors left over from the previous painting. I feel that the tone of the colors is most important at this stage. I usually have three blacks (mars, ivory, Payne’s grey) and white along with both warm and cool colors. I feel my underpainting is made richer if the first colors are not the final surface. This also makes it necessary to repaint often, creating a still richer surface. Since I work so thin, I feel this is important. I also try to vary the warmth and coolness of the grays. I like getting the colors close but I prefer to make the colors just a little off, making them mine.

6. I can spend up to two months on a complex industrial piece and other paintings can be finished within two weeks. This painting probably took three weeks, maybe a little more. Skin tones are hard to blend with acrylics, that slows the painting down, a bit.

7. This painting was pretty straightforward, kind of simple, really. The hardest thing was maneuvering the photograph to achieve what I see when I look in the mirror. I even had to draw a full-size cartoon on paper before I felt I could move it to the canvas and believe it. My favorite part of this work is the slightly askew eyes that enhance the comedy, like the facial expressions of warriors in Japanese prints.

8. My future hope is to continue increasing the naturalness of my strokes. All of my realistic industrial paintings have serious, hard edges and they’re all made by hand, with no drawing aid. As I age I expect that the edges will get more human, and that’s okay. I also want to try softening how the shapes are painted, giving them more humanity.

9. My inspiration usually comes from seeing something I’ve seen a thousand times before but is unexpectedly in a different light, thus it gets my attention. Or it’s a stray thought that forms into a challenge for me to paint.

acrylic artist Paul Chapman

Paul Chapman, finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s 2012 Annual Art Competition

Visit Chapman’s website at www.paulchapmanart.com to see more of his figurative paintings, as well as still lifes, industrial paintings and more.

Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist Magazine’s Annual Art Competition. Enter your best work today for your chance to be featured in print and online.


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