Jane Chapin has accomplished a goal that is highly admirable, in my humble opinion. She bravely traveled across America, painted a heartfelt landscape in every state, paid tribute to a military veteran from each state, and published a book about her experience. To top it off, Chapin has been and continues to donate her full proceeds from the book, Land of the Free, to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). North Light Shop is proud to help her extend her reach of people.
I’ve asked Chapin a few questions about how Land of the Free came to fruition. Any aspect of her journey is amazing, and combined, it’s a story that’s my sincere pleasure to share with you.
CH: Do you have military ties? What, specifically, inspired you to bring light to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation?
JC: My Dad was a Navy pilot in WWII and was always encouraged me and my siblings to accomplish our goals. He taught us to dream big and go for it. When starting this project, I was looking for a military organization to partner with and SOWF had an excellent charity rating in that they didn’t have high administrative costs. I knew the money raised would be used for its intended purpose.
CH: How has this experience affected your perception of America?
JC: It has made me so grateful for where I live and very respectful of all those who have given so much for my freedom. There is so much that’s good and decent about America, which is very evident when you explore the back roads and the small towns.
CH: How long did it take to accomplish your goal of painting in each state, and how has your art changed since the beginning of your journey?
JC: It took about 2 1/2 years and I became a better painter along the road. Slowing down and focusing on the everyday scenes and the human story really became important.
CH: Tell me about one of your most memorable people or experiences from the experience.
JC: There were so many … like the painting in Connecticut of the Ryle family farm, where I just happened to stop because a scene caught my eye. I approached the owners of the farm and asked if I could paint on their property. They were interested in seeing the painting when I was done, and invited me into their home and gave me contact information so I could send them the book when it was published.
Throughout my experiences, invariably there were veterans or relatives who were veterans, and they would tell me their stories. The connections with people became a big part of my intentions to do the book.
CH: If someone set a similar goal of painting in each state, what advice would you give him/her?
JC: Stay off the interstates if possible and don’t set a schedule. Try to avoid using a GPS because getting lost is part of the journey. Ask people for directions or to tell you something about their town. People are incredibly generous and helpful. Always know what county you are in because the weather band gives severe storm warnings by county.
CH: Just for fun! What’s your favorite way to celebrate the Fourth of July?
JC: Hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on a grill, family, and a small town parade.
How I’d love to sit down with Chapin over a cup of coffee and hear more about the endless stories she must have! We can all take the next best thing–get your copy of Land of the Free for the human interest stories, plus inspiration on landscape drawing and art travels.
In the meantime, if you’re celebrating July 4th, I wish you a sunny day! I’ll be sitting by a pool at a relative’s house, sharing meals and laughter as we make new memories. If you don’t celebrate this holiday (hello, international artists!), I still wish you a sunny day!
Yours in art,