Artistic Excellence | Julie T. Chapman

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

The Roper, oil, 30 x 20.

What inspired your winning entry? Montana’s small-town summertime rodeos are a wonderful slice of down-home western ranch life. This young man and his flashy paint horse had just taken a turn at tie-down roping on one gorgeous August morning. The colorful horse, the light, the gesture of the rider in coiling up his lariat, and his torn jeans all combined to make completely irresistible subject matter.

Where did you study art? The school of hard knocks. Although one could call me self-taught, that would be dismissive of the many artists whose books, magazine articles, and images I’ve studied and found influential. I hope my journey is a credit to those influences and to the art buddies with whom I philosophize and agonize.

What is your favorite subject matter and why? The kingdom animalia. I choose to paint animals because they are other nations, other minds, who share our planet, and their beauty enthralls me. Their vibrancy inspires me to use a contemporary, colorful style in my oils; the abstract backgrounds create an energetic, jewellike setting for the magnificent animal form.

What is the best advice you have ever received? A gallery dealer once told me, “Never send anything out into the world that you might later regret.” In other words, an artist has to self-edit, preferably ruthlessly. The difference between a good artist and a great artist is that the latter has a bigger wastebasket. The “burn pile” in my basement has been coveted but is off limits to family and friends.

What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? Every time a collector purchases a piece of my work, I’m indescribably thrilled. My art is created from deeply personal inspiration in the semisolitude of my studio (three German shepherds keep me company and shed hairs into the paint). That it then touches others and can move someone enough to purchase it is profoundly gratifying.

What is the one thing people will never see you paint? A city scene.

Future goals? To continue exploring the fascinating juxtaposition of abstraction and realism, to build up a body of African work, and find the best market for it.

Representation: Mountain Trails Galleries, Jackson, WY, and Park City, UT; Pitzer’s Fine Art, Wimberley, TX; Townsend Fine Art, Missoula, MT; Visions West, Bozeman and Livingston, MT;

Featured in December 2011.