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John Chehak-Nine on a Wire-

Nine on a Wire

John Chehak

Artist Locale:  Iowa, USA

Subject Matter:  Contemporary, Reflection Series, Urban Crowding, Landscapes, Architecture, and Birds

Medium: Undiluted Acrylic

About this Piece: At some point throughout the years I wanted to paint some birds. That sounds pretty boring doesn’t it? Well it did to me so I decided to create fun blackbirds on a set of telephone wires with one red bird in the lower right corner. I thought it would popular with the Cardinal baseball team fans in the St. Louis area. The next step was throw full color at the project which depicted 8 or 9 birds on one wire. But they were monochromatic, vivid and fun. I always got a smile out of people when they looked at my birds on a wire. It’s been a very popular category for me. I even put a picture of 4 of my birds on coffee mugs.

City Sailing

Artist Statement:

I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a child I enjoyed drawing and painting, but art was just something nice to look at.  I took for granted that anyone could paint or draw and it was just a nervous hobby for me. In college I went on to earn a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy and in 1973 I began practicing retail pharmacy in my home town.  In the early 80’s I stopped practicing pharmacy to pursue other healthcare related business ventures including computer software development, hospital marketing, and home health care management. Somewhere along the way I got married and was the father to two wonderful girls. By the time I was in my late forties I began to feel an urge to explore my long dormant artistic abilities. I really don’t know why. It was 1998, near the turn of the century. All of a sudden I found my self divorced, re-married, suffering the death of my father, not enjoying my work. Call it my mid-life crisis.
When I actually decided to pick up a brush I knew I wanted to use paint that would dry quickly, not oil based, was water soluble – but not watercolors, and did not smell. My medium of choice was, and still is, undiluted acrylic paint on paper and canvas. I purchased the necessary supplies: paint, brushes, a few canvases and heavy watercolor paper and created a space in my home to paint.  I quickly realized that I preferred to paint on 140 pound archival watercolor paper and a fixed size (36″x36″x2.5″) canvas.  As I started to collect a rather large portfolio of artwork I needed to figure out how to promote my work and eventually sell my paintings. After participating in a couple local art shows and doing some research I decided to apply to a number of regional art fairs within two hundred and fifty miles from my home. Shows that were scheduled from May until September were the only ones I wanted to consider.  My primary motivation was to see if the public was interested in purchasing my work so I could generate more funds to buy more supplies so I could paint more pictures.  As I began to get accepted in many juried fairs, I realized I had opened another “can of worms.”  Besides paying the substantial fees for most juried events, I needed to purchase a good quality tent and add some amenities to it like a comfortable flooring, a decorative rug, lighting to highlight the work, and good quality display panels for hanging my art. Other expenses included reserving hotel rooms, food and gas purchases, securing programs that allowed me to accept credit cards on my phone, and whether to purchase a van or rent one for transportation. If that wasn’t enough, I needed to standardize a mat and framing plan for my paintings and finally, price my work. I’m sorry but I have to take a short break now. I’m exhausted just thinking about how much work was involved and the large expense I had to invest, not to mention convincing my wife to go with me to the shows. As of this writing we have participated in more than seventy five juried art shows and have sold more than six hundred original paintings. My matted and framed paintings range from three hundred and fifty dollars to a little more than one thousand five hundred dollars. I consider that price range as a usual and affordable range for visitors to the art fairs.
Through the Country

I consider myself a Representational Painter. I think my style has developed from the need to “un-trap myself” from an artistic routine and to explore other expressive and creative opportunities. Twenty three years later, my work has come full circle. It was once described on the Des Moines based Kavanaugh Gallery’s website: ‘His muted colors and distinct choice of subject matter have attracted collectors throughout the nation. Many of Chehak’s paintings emerge directly from his imagination.’ My subjects have included urban scenes in New York, Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans, but I still enjoy the sedate, yet captivating, landscapes of the Midwest. Rural compositions of rolling hills, farmlands, red barns, and the like characterize my earliest unique style. I’m particularly fond of the symmetry and beauty of buildings and other structures, both urban and rural. In recent years my work has taken on new and unique personalities with more vibrant colors, symmetry, and compelling presentation. I now estimate that I have patrons in more than 40 states. 

On the Way Home

Advice to Fellow Artists:  It’s so easy or should I say comfortable to stay within your own boundaries of subject matter, technique, type of medium, and color choices. But I suggest you experiment with color palette, subject matter and technique. You will discover a whole new way of understanding your process.  I still find it difficult to use lime green color.  Unfortunately, I’m getting older now and realize I have lost some of the desire to change my comfort limits.  However, painting is not the kind of “job” you can ever retire from easily.