ean-Marie Chapman is an award-winning Oregon-based artist who has had a passion for drawing people since childhood. She credits her mother, Ruth Louise Chapman, for instilling a love for art, beauty, color, and design. “My mother is my inspiration,” Jean explains. “She taught me her special way of seeing the world and is my soul-mate in my love for all of the arts.”
While in her early twenties, Jean-Marie taught herself to paint portraits by copying the works of the Old Masters. Her first oil painting, derived from the famous self-portrait by French artist
Eugene Delacroix, led her into the world of art, but only for a short time. "Life took me on a journey into a career in public relations, during which time virtually no portraits were painted for 25 years,” she recalls. “Then, following the death of my mother, I was introduced to portrait artist Wanda Kemper, who became my mentor and friend. Under her guidance and instruction I was able to return to my passion, refine my work and move forward into a professional career. I've never looked back.”
Love for the Old Masters has strongly influenced Jean-Marie’s painting style. Artists she most reveres, and strives to emulate, are John Singer Sargent, J. W. Waterhouse, Rembrandt and Vermeer. She also admires the romantic, classical work of Bouguereau. “I am drawn to the old- world approach to portraiture and appreciate the realism and emotion of these marvelous works. My portraits are rendered with layers of paint and glaze to bring illumination to my subjects. While it is a painstaking process the results are well worth the effort and I’ve found no other way to give a portrait that degree of depth and radiance."
Jean-Marie is also captivated by the Impressionist artists and is studying the techniques of those pioneers of color and light. "I am experimenting with some of the looser brush strokes and uses of color, and finding it very exciting,” she reveals. “I use a combination of techniques in some of my portraits." Favorite Impressionists include Renoir, Monet, Degas and Cassatt.
In 2004, Jean-Marie traveled to Paris for what would be a life-hanging experience. “I was thrilled to have this incredible opportunity,” she says. “Just walking down the streets and hearing the lyrical beauty of the French language was magical. The air itself seemed to be infused with a special creative energy and excitement. Sipping coffee at a café, visiting the glorious museums I’d only seen in books and standing on the bridge of Monet’s Garden made me almost delirious with happiness. It was a profound and poignant moment for me to walk into Le Louvre and see the original self-portrait of Eugene Delacroix I’d copied in my youth. It seemed to be smiling down at me as if to say, ‘Welcome to Paris. I’ve been waiting for you.’”