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Studio Visit:  Timothy Chapman

I visited Timothy Chapman on a sunny morning, in his Central Phoenix studio.  I was greeted by a friendly pug and a dainty (but macho) poodle, and shown into a family home that is full of art and a working studio full of activity.

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Timothy’s creative work, amazing paintings, and musical recommendations have been an inspiration to me for many years.  He is an accomplished painter and print maker who creates custom murals and faux finishes in his spare time.
His imagery is enchanting and original, his personality even more so.

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Artist Statement:
This is indeed an exciting time for discovery. Advances in exploration and technologies have allowed Our Generous Benefactor to employ some of the finest chroniclers of exotic flora and fauna in what is a rapacious and seemingly unending search to uncover exciting and in some cases, previously undescribed beasts of the field, sea and sky.

This display you are viewing highlights the efforts of one of our limners, simply referred to here as the Field Artist. He suffers from an annoying yet admirable sense of independence which will take him for worrying days or weeks away from whichever of our scientific parties he is connected with. Yet he always returns, gaunt and delirious, laden with new illustrations (and sometimes the bound and wriggling specimens) of his wild encounters.

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It was while I was completing my undergraduate degree in biology that I realized my love for the discipline was more aesthetic than genuinely scientific. So I changed my focus and got undergraduate and graduate degrees in printmaking. I later began painting seriously for want of a press; acrylic is currently my medium of choice.

The look of this work owes a lot to my fondness for earlier styles of depicting animals, particularly the copperplate engravings that illustrated Buffon’s Natural History (begun in 1766) as well as Victorian animal portraiture and old scientific illustration. I have tried to present similarly earnest, but basically inaccurate, renderings of animals by using humor, irony and surrealistic sensibility that is not available to the scientist.

What scares you most when you are working?
Being inefficient.  There is so much standing around and pacing – if you were to compress the actual brush-to-surface time that happens in a day, there might only be two or three hours, even when I’ve been working for six or seven hours.  Also I am sometimes afraid to add new parts – but that fear serves me, because I’ll go back through a painting, adding details that I’m comfortable with, until I have gathered enough courage to start the new part.

How  is your work different than the natural history paintings and engravings that inspire it?
The imagery in my work has some magical realism in there, and invention.  It’s not a great leap:  Some of the images of natural history look invented.
I mean, look at these things.   A zebra?  Come on.

Also, I like lightness.  I feel like a good piece should affect a person physiologically, and emotionally.  I like the positive, more than negative.  I don’t want to be a finger-shaking downer.  I’d like my work to be an antidote to negativity and fear, when it hangs in people’s homes – I like to think it maybe makes people feel better.

What’s coming up next for you?
Among various commissions, projects, gallery work, and lunches to be made for my two sons, I am working on an exhibition for the Visions West Gallery in Livingston, Montana.   This series will be a sort of field guide of travels through the Yellowstone National Park – featuring a diverse variety of flora and fauna native to that area, some of which are, I believe, previously unknown to science.

What music is playing in your studio lately?
I listen to NPR until I get too depressed. Then I listen to my iPod set at random. There’s lots of stuff on there, some post-New Wave alternative I guess you would call it but , some the bands that come to mind are The Magnetic Fields, Eels, American Analog Set, Animal Collective, Shearwater, Glasser, Sigur Ros, and the Monkees.

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Wilde Meyer Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM

Visions West Gallery, Denver, CO

Button-Petter Gallery, Douglas, MI

JRB Art at the Elms, Oklahoma City, OK

CODA Gallery, Palm Desert, CA

  1. cc (Reply) on Friday 30, 2011

    did you do The motion of dark spheres? If not, do you know who did?