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 Julie T. Chapman  (1963 - )

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Lived/Active: Montana/California/Ohio      Known for: wildlife and birds in landscape painting

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Julie T Chapman
An example of work by Julie T. Chapman
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Julie T. Chapman's work often features a wild animal or group of animals captured in their environment in a "relatively loose but naturalistic style." Other works may exude the animal's mannerisms or behavior with the background abstracted. Either way, she applies her paint with a palette knife, sometimes in layers of thin paint, other times thickly.

From a young age she produced an unending stream of horse drawings, influenced by a childhood on an Ohio farm. Years later she moved to take a job with Hewlett-Packard as a computer engineer. While working in California, she began taking weekend hiking and backpacking trips in various mountain ranges around the West and discovered "more animals than horses!"

"It was my first awakening to wildlife. Then in 1993 I went to Costa Rica, and the exotic profusion of life there really got me stirred up. I realized I wanted to spend all my vacations traveling to find wilderness and wildlife" Chapman explains.

Without formal art instruction, she began studying books on artists such as Carl Rungius, Wayne Thiebaud, and Bob Kuhn, and other late 19th and early 20th-century painters.

Going out in the wild to find her subject matter with a camper on a 4 x 4 pickup including a battery charger for a video camera and video batteries, she and her husband, video-grapher Paul Stafford, head for remote spots around the West and in Alaska whenever they can. Together they've made numerous trips into the heart of the wilderness. They recently moved from California to Montana which allows them to be closer to Yellowstone National Park. Chapman's studio looks out onto "lots of trees . . . and loads of deer, black bears, and birds."

She gives back to nature by giving a percentage of her art sales to The Nature Conservatory and has created prints to benefit the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Chapman's painting, Illumination, won the top prize of $50, 000 at the 2002 Arts for the Parks competition in Jackson, Wyoming. She is also a member of the Society of Animal Artists. In 2004, her painting of ravens titled Ready to Rumble was installed in the training facility of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team.


Gussie Fauntleroy, "Wild Encounters", Southwest Art, June 2003
Southwest Art, December 2002
Wildlife Art, November 2004

Biography from Ann Korologos Gallery:
Julie Chapman grew up on a small family farm in central Ohio, where she spent summers working in the garden, baling hay, climbing trees, catching butterflies, and hanging laundry outside. She reared butterflies and moths to adulthood from egg or larvae, caught tadpoles in the pond, and was fascinated by every form of life on their 60 acres of hayfields, trees, and pasture. Her childhood instilled in her, a deep love for critters – large, small, scaled, winged, whatever. What she wanted most was a horse; alas, it was unrequited love, which probably explains why she drew them obsessively. (After college, she finally was able to indulge her monomania and spent ten years training and riding dressage and jumping.) She started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil, and has never stopped.

She explored all the graphic media (pencil, charcoal, pen and ink) throughout childhood, discovered watercolor and pastels somewhere in her teen years, used acrylics for quite a while, and finally tried oils in her thirties. It was love at first try, though learning about all the mediums, solvents, and other fussiness that goes with oils took some time, since she was learning by trial and error. In college she majored in computer engineering, and after graduation worked for almost two decades in R&D and marketing at Hewlett Packard – so her art education has come from books and observation.

In the 1990s she began exploring American and Canadian wilderness areas, and she began drawing and painting wildlife (at last, something besides horses!). In 2002 Julie won the Arts for the Parks Grand Prize, which precipitated her move from California to Montana and kicked her in the butt to become a full-time artist. The painting that won, Illumination, was based on material from a week she spent observing grizzly bears in the coastal wilds of Katmai National Park in Alaska. The particular bear she painted was very comfortable with her presence, as well as beautiful, and she even issued invitations for her to come play – what a magical encounter!

She spends a lot of time each year in pursuit of reference material; “I’m very privileged to live close to some splendid wilderness and wildlife, and firsthand field experience is essential to getting the excitement and inspiration I want for a piece,” she says.

Since moving to Montana, She’s discovered small-town summertime rodeos and has become enamored of the color, action, and excitement – and it allows me to paint horses! She loves to head off to a rodeo, stand out in the sun and dust for hours, and take a little piece of the adrenaline in the arena away with her.

Lately, her work has evolved from straightforwardly representational to something with a more contemporary edge – She’s having fun playing with abstract backgrounds, sizzling streaks of color, and big loose brushwork and knifework. My influences have included masters such as Bob Kuhn, Carl Rungius, Richard Schmid and Wayne Thiebaud – and she’s also influenced by the wonderful artists who are painting today, such as Oleg Stavrowsky, Roy Anderson, and many others. ”What a privilege to be an artist!”

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