Friday, October 26, 2012

John Chumley- Anecdotes on the American Painter


John Chumley, Late Summer


John Chumley (1928-1984) was an American Painter who was known for, and had an impeccable talent for, painting light.  Whether Chumley was painting a landscape or one of his children, the detail in lighting which he observed was always extremely well portrayed.          
Chumley was born in Minnesota and originally entered college on a scholarship for football.  After an injury to his knee, he chose to pursue painting and enrolled in the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida.  Through his career Chumley strayed away from the lime light which is why today many are unfamiliar with his works. His career began with one man shows in New York, and if one researches Chumley there are many clippings of his work but little information about the artist in general.
John Chumley, Goldie, 1958,
This artist is particularly intriguing because despite the many catalogues that rave of his paintings, it is difficult to find commentary from Chumley himself.  This could be because he was a very independent artist.  He insisted upon living in a rural environment, which could be why he was never directly in the spotlight.  He spent many of his years not too far from DC in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  Many of his works include glimpses of the valleys that surrounded him, his large estate, and his children.  Interestingly enough Chumley never used photographs to paint.  This realist put himself in front of his subject and translated on to canvas what his eyes saw. 
A quirk that we know about the artist is that he painted alone and only alone until the last brush stroke of his canvas was completed.  His paintings were truly his own from the paint he used to the finished image.  Chumley is known for his use of watercolors, but he often used an egg tempera paint that he made himself.  This medium is difficult to work with, making Chumley's works even more astonishing.  The egg tempera adds a layered effect to his works creating an interesting depth and a wide array of shades.  Once out of art school, Chumley was asked what drew him to painting such realistic images he replied, "In art school I saw students of near genius achieve spectacular results with abstraction--but too quickly, without what I considered enough background--then they gave up. It was too easy.  For me there has to be a challenge. I wanted more. More knowledge of what went before, so I could bring it to my work”. [1]
Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World, 1948
Chumley has been compared to artist Andrew Wyeth by various sources.  Wyeth is most famous for his painting Christina's World, 1948 which shows a young girl looking into a vast landscape with a house in the distance (pictured below).  The similarities that exist between these artists live in their realistic style, their fine detail, and their use of tempera. The variations of light that Wyeth uses amongst the landscape is also a prominent aspect of this painting, that makes it comparable to Chumley’s work.  In Goldie one can see how Chumley directed light in order to form the definitions in his shapes and lines within the pieces. Similarities between the two can be drawn from the detail in both Christina and Goldie's clothing, such as the folds of the clothing, and the shadows that the fabric casts among itself.  These variations within light that both artists use helps to portray movement in the surroundings of these two women.  In Christina's World Wyeth's use of light illustrates movement within the grass, while in Goldie, the detail of light brings life to the curtains in the windows, along with the fabric that Goldie is ironing.  By comparing Chumley’s work to Wyeth, it becomes evident that Chumley had the talent, and style of a renowned painter. 
Chumley had a passion for the beauty in both the landscapes and solitude he found tucked away in the Shenandoah Valley. While this kept Chumley’s work out of the limelight, if it were not for the inspiration he found there, we may not be able to appreciate his expertise today. 


[1] J.C, T. (March, 28 2001). Fountain citians who made a difference. Retrieved from http://www.fountaincitytnhistory.info/People5-Chumley.htm

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Friday, October 26, 2012

John Chumley- Anecdotes on the American Painter


John Chumley, Late Summer


John Chumley (1928-1984) was an American Painter who was known for, and had an impeccable talent for, painting light.  Whether Chumley was painting a landscape or one of his children, the detail in lighting which he observed was always extremely well portrayed.          
Chumley was born in Minnesota and originally entered college on a scholarship for football.  After an injury to his knee, he chose to pursue painting and enrolled in the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida.  Through his career Chumley strayed away from the lime light which is why today many are unfamiliar with his works. His career began with one man shows in New York, and if one researches Chumley there are many clippings of his work but little information about the artist in general.
John Chumley, Goldie, 1958,
This artist is particularly intriguing because despite the many catalogues that rave of his paintings, it is difficult to find commentary from Chumley himself.  This could be because he was a very independent artist.  He insisted upon living in a rural environment, which could be why he was never directly in the spotlight.  He spent many of his years not too far from DC in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  Many of his works include glimpses of the valleys that surrounded him, his large estate, and his children.  Interestingly enough Chumley never used photographs to paint.  This realist put himself in front of his subject and translated on to canvas what his eyes saw. 
A quirk that we know about the artist is that he painted alone and only alone until the last brush stroke of his canvas was completed.  His paintings were truly his own from the paint he used to the finished image.  Chumley is known for his use of watercolors, but he often used an egg tempera paint that he made himself.  This medium is difficult to work with, making Chumley's works even more astonishing.  The egg tempera adds a layered effect to his works creating an interesting depth and a wide array of shades.  Once out of art school, Chumley was asked what drew him to painting such realistic images he replied, "In art school I saw students of near genius achieve spectacular results with abstraction--but too quickly, without what I considered enough background--then they gave up. It was too easy.  For me there has to be a challenge. I wanted more. More knowledge of what went before, so I could bring it to my work”. [1]
Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World, 1948
Chumley has been compared to artist Andrew Wyeth by various sources.  Wyeth is most famous for his painting Christina's World, 1948 which shows a young girl looking into a vast landscape with a house in the distance (pictured below).  The similarities that exist between these artists live in their realistic style, their fine detail, and their use of tempera. The variations of light that Wyeth uses amongst the landscape is also a prominent aspect of this painting, that makes it comparable to Chumley’s work.  In Goldie one can see how Chumley directed light in order to form the definitions in his shapes and lines within the pieces. Similarities between the two can be drawn from the detail in both Christina and Goldie's clothing, such as the folds of the clothing, and the shadows that the fabric casts among itself.  These variations within light that both artists use helps to portray movement in the surroundings of these two women.  In Christina's World Wyeth's use of light illustrates movement within the grass, while in Goldie, the detail of light brings life to the curtains in the windows, along with the fabric that Goldie is ironing.  By comparing Chumley’s work to Wyeth, it becomes evident that Chumley had the talent, and style of a renowned painter. 
Chumley had a passion for the beauty in both the landscapes and solitude he found tucked away in the Shenandoah Valley. While this kept Chumley’s work out of the limelight, if it were not for the inspiration he found there, we may not be able to appreciate his expertise today. 


[1] J.C, T. (March, 28 2001). Fountain citians who made a difference. Retrieved from http://www.fountaincitytnhistory.info/People5-Chumley.htm

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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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