Dear readers,

I have no idea how Jonathan Goldsmith (aka "the most interesting man in the world") got into my Artzine last month, but at least now we're back to our regular format.

In the meantime, we're enjoying a typical Montana spring: wildflowers, bluebirds, weather that changes from sunshine to blizzard and back again in 5 minutes...

Special note: my thoughts are with all who have been affected by the Boston Marathon bombings; I have friends who live near there and friends who were participating in the race, all of whom are (thankfully) fine.

* Does this email look wonky? See the issue online.

Newsbytes / calendar

  • My website has been redesigned and updated! The artwork section has been reorganized for a cleaner and more logical grouping. Check it out at!

  • LONDON, ENGLAND - 3rd-8th June: As noted in the April Artzine, a scratchboard of mine has been juried into the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition at The Mall Galleries.

  • WHITEFISH, MT - June 30: I'll be at the Whitefish Summer social again this year. (Watch for the image of my silent auction piece in the June Artzine!)

  • CALGARY, ALBERTA - July 12: Two works of mine will be auctioned at the Calgary Stampede.

  • CHEYENNE, WY - July 18-31: I'll have work at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Art Show again this year, and I plan to attend the opening.

  • JACKSON, WY - Sept 12-13: I'm honored to be part of the Western Visions show and sale at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

In this issue

  • "It Looks Just Like a Photo!"

  • Hot Off the Easel

Just Chillin'
12 x 12 - scratchboard
Available at Mountain Trails Gallery

Wild Eyes
9 x 12 - scratchboard
Available at Missoula Airport

Tidbits - on photography

"Having a camera makes you no more a photographer than having a hammer and some nails makes you a carpenter." (Claude Adams)

"Painting requires skill. Photography is created by the camera, and one cannot fully control what the camera sees. So people take many photographs because several must always be discarded. " (Igor Babailov)

"photograph, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art." (Ambrose Bierce)

"You are the camera, your eyes are the shutters. What you absorb through them is what you paint and it's you that is mixing the colours, not the camera." (Richard F. Barber)

"It Looks Just Like a Photo!"

Call me a grump (grouch? crab?), but this ain’t a compliment. Oh, I know, I know, it’s very likely meant kindly. When you’re 8 or 12 years old and working fiercely to learn how to draw, using up more art supplies than your family can afford, and spilling a whole bottle of india ink on the living room carpet (not that I would know about any of this - the ink wasn’t my fault, Mom!), “it looks ilke a photograph!” would be high praise.

However. When one hears the phrase repeatedly, and lavished on works like the scratchboard shown right, finds oneself baffled. Sometimes one even wants to indulge in career-limiting repartee.

Firstly, I’ve never seen a photo that looks anything like this - you know, all black background with deep black shadows, and white linework defining the lights. I suppose you could take a photograph somewhat like this on the moon, but I’m skeptical there’s rodeo there. (Feel free to correct my ignorance.)

But more importantly, if “it looks just like a photo”, then ... I feel like a complete dunderhead for spending so many days agonizing over my composition, my working sketches, the transfer of my design to the support, and of course the scratchwork or paintwork. I should just print out a photo and put the same price on it! Geez, I’m a nincompoop!

Now, there are artists who specialize in photo-realism - who work very hard to capture every bit of what’s going on in a scene, the way a photograph would. I credit you, my readers, with more observational acuity than to suggest I’m a photo-realist; I don’t recall ever seeing an abstract background like the one at right ("American Original: Renegade") in any photos.

And by the way, don’t get me wrong - there is a lot of fabulous photography out there! I just don’t want to have my years of experience and weeks of labor compared to the average smartphone snap.

So. What should you, the savvy art appreciator, say to compliment an artist who is not actually working in a photo-realist manner? Here are some suggestions:
“Your composition is dynamite!”
“I just love how you’ve interpreted the subject matter!”
“This is far better than any photo!”
“These are gorgeous! You’re a genius!”

OK! You are now ready to go forth and rock an artist’s world!


Duel / Duet
16 x 20, scratchboard
...available from my studio


American Original: Renegade
35 x 28, oil on gallery-wrapped canvas
...available from my studio

Hot Off the Easel


14 x 18 - scratchboard
Commission (sold)

FOOTNOTE to the April Artzine:

[In reference to "Burning Bright", my tiger scratchboard] "This might very well be your best scratchboard ever. Wow wow wow. I just need to sit here and stare at it. The face is amazing. But then the back catches my eye and that's pretty cool too. I don't want to go to bed. I just want to sit here and stare at it all night and find more amazing details. Like the eyes. How DO you DO this!?!" -- Kara K.

"OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN! 'Burning Bright' is the MOST gorgeous thing I have ever beheld. I am stunned, speechless (apparently not) and cannot stop staring at what I would personally call your best work EVER in ANY medium." -- Kahtleen M.

I had other similarly lovely compliments about my tiger scratchboard, headed for the David Shepherd exhibition in London...and thank you, each of you who responded with the kind remarks!

That's it for May. I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter (and thank you to the many readers who respond after each Artzine, thus giving me good material for the "Footnotes" section :-) - if so, I encourage you to share it with anyone and everyone. I appreciate your help in building a bigger audience for my work!

Warmest regards,
Julie T. Chapman

Painting Today’s Wild West (and Africa!) with Contemporary Flair
(406) 546-2636
20900 Whitetail Ridge Road * Huson, MT 59846
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** All images and text in this newsletter are copyright (c) 2013 Julie T. Chapman. I encourage you to forward this email as long as it includes this copyright notice - thank you!**