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 Donald Foster Clapper  (1959 - )

About: Donald Foster Clapper


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Lived/Active: Arizona/Ohio      Known for: trompe l'oeil still life

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Donald Foster Clapper
An example of work by Donald Foster Clapper
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Artist Statement:

"I paint with passion and uncompromising detail to captivate my viewers with the intrigue of Trompe l'Oeil. The deceptive depth perception, shadows, unseen light source, and artistically replicated composition complete the illusion."


Although Donald Clapper grew up in the Northeast, home of many great American still Life and trompe l'oeil masters, this coincidence did not influence his attraction to the world of art. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a B.A. Degree in 1983, Clapper began a successful real estate career in Florida and his hobby interests at that time were in competitive golf and skiing.

Unbeknownst to him, an unplanned stop to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1980's became the momentum that drew him to Trompe l'Oeil and Classic Realism after he saw an original William Harnett painting. He marveled at Harnett's ability to create both unbelievable detail and illusionary dimension and began a personal study on the Old Masters Dutch still life painters and shortly thereafter, focused on the American Trompe l'Oeil School of painters of the late 1800's specifically, William M. Harnett, John Haberle, and John Peto.

Clapper's painting developed during the 1980-90's while he lived and worked in Gainesville, Florida at which time he also married and started a family. Due to the busyness of the daytime, he pursued his artwork during the quiet evening and predawn hours. It was during this season, he developed his own techniques and proficiency as he applied the Old Masters' methods of indirect lighting, shadowing, glazing and multi dimensional affects to the canvas. He began his first series of tabletop still life's, including Afternoon Tea, which won both local and nationwide awards including a centerfold winner of Art Calendar Magazine, October issue, 2000.

After a period of painting still life's, Clapper completed "Tribute to William Harnett", a trompe l'oeil that not only pays homage to his first "silent mentor" what's more, it eludes the viewer to believe it may have been painted from the studio of none other than John Peto, Harnett's student and friend.

In 1994, Clapper relocated his family to Scottsdale, Arizona where he still abides and works in his Fountain Hills studio painting. Clapper's study focused once again to the genre of trompe l'oeil including this time some modern day masters, namely Ken Davies and David Brega. Clapper's work has received national as well as regional recognition.

He paints almost exclusively trompe l'oeil these days, except for some personally commissioned tabletop still life's.

Clapper is in the completion stages of his latest series, "American History As Seen Through Trompe l'Oeil" in which he paints a pictorial interpretation of events reflecting the different eras in American history. Included in this series, are War and Peace on Mom's Cupboard Door, a tribute to WW II veterans from a Mother's perspective; Getaway Money, things found in a cowboy's back pocket during the late 1800s, stagecoach robbery days; and Gone Fishing, could be anyone's black and white photo of grandpa standing on a wooden bridge, old car and fishing lures all mounted on a painted weathered piece of wood.

Clapper is also the co-founder of the Trompe l'Oeil Society of Artists, an exclusive group of today's finest artists dedicated to the genre of trompe l'oeil. The group was formed for the purpose of promoting and advancing the visibility of trompe l'oeil on a national level as well as to encourage excellence in individual artists by connecting to a group with similar talent and aspiration. The first annual group show is being planned for early spring, 2002 featuring seven of America's leading trompe l'oeil artists.

Art Calendar Magazine; October Issue, 2000 - Centerfold winner of National Art Contest Color Plate of "Afternoon Tea"

"Numismatist", April 2003, 'Fool the Eye Numismatic Art With a Twist', by Cathy Clark
Note from the artist:
At my gallery, The Taos Gallery, Scottsdale, my little stamp painting was drawing a crowd all night and when I first showed it to a group of 5 people and I ask them which stamp was real, four out of five guessed the wrong stamp. I have another great trompe l'oeil story. So maybe I should do a few more if the public likes it, we will wait and see if it sells quickly. One other thing I did to fool people was to put the cast shadow of the dangling key falling on the painted stamp or is it on the real stamp? Anyway. It was a fun little project and the greatest thing for me is that I finished a Trompe l'Oeil painting in TWO days!!!!!!! WOW. My usual Trompe paintings take between 100 to 300 hundred hours of work time.

WHO Trompe L'oeil Society of Artists:
WHAT paintings in oil on panel, canvas and paper
WHEN March 1 - 28, 2002
Opening Reception Friday March 1, 5-7 PM, Santa Fe

We are very pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit of America's most accomplished trompe l'oeil artists. The Trompe L'oeil Society of Artists was formed to showcase the paintings of contemporary masters of the genre. The exhibit will feature paintings by its members: Larry Charles, Donald Clapper, Eric Conklin, Gerald Hodge, Michael Molnar, Gayle B. Tate, and Gregory West.

The art form of trompe l'oeil distinguishes itself from other forms of realist painting by its intent to deceive. With the use of perfect perspective and clearly observed light, described with realistic colors, the 'trick' is to make the onlooker believe that a surface is not flat, or that a space exists where there is no space. Translated from the French, trompe l'oeil means "trick the eye". These seven painters have taken the art form to its extreme in excellence and accomplishment. Still life subject matter includes hyper-realistic images of taped paper objects, currencies, chalkboards, stamps, and old photographs - perfect three dimensional images to the eye and remarkable two dimensional realities to the touch.

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Donald Clapper is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Trompe l'Oeil Painting

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