Vail gallery Art on a Whim hosts artist Alex Gupton
If you go ...
Who: Artist Alex Gupton demonstrates his detailed pen and ink process
Where: The Art on a Whim Gallery, 227 Bridge Street, Vail.
When: Friday through Sunday.
More information: 970-476-4883 or http://www.artonawhim.com.
Artist Alex Gupton’s boundless energy, joy and infectious spirit can easily be found throughout his art. Those fortunate enough to have a conversation with the extremely talented artist cannot help but smile at his exuberant personality and passion for life. He seems to move a mile a minute; bouncing from one medium to the next, one activity to the next or one subject to the next, all the while ceaselessly smiling. His art, however, forces viewers to slow down and take a minute or 20 to truly appreciate the many months Gupton spent creating each piece.
“Detail is designed to draw people into my artwork,” Gupton said. “To force them to take a moment to truly analyze the small bits that make up the piece as a whole.”
This weekend, Gupton will display his latest works at the Art on a Whim Gallery in Vail Village. In addition, Gupton will be completing his detailed work on a brand new blue jay, orchid and moose. His demonstrations are fascinating and he is always happy to share his reading glasses so viewers can get a closer glimpse into his work.
“I enjoy chatting with people, visiting and whatnot, while working at the same time,” he said. “They will see me with my little pen and ink in hand, filling in little details as I complete my newest work.”
Intricate is perhaps the best adjective one can find to describe his work. Lively acrylic backgrounds jump off of his canvases, awash with bright color and perfect shading. Iconic subjects provide an instant connection to each piece. It is the details that Gupton spends hundreds upon hundreds of hours perfecting that truly takes his work to another level, however.
Gupton flips our preconceived notions of how to create a painting on their head. While most artists paint their subject within its surroundings, Gupton chooses to painstakingly draw the surroundings inside his subjects. Lying within and forming the subject as a whole is a collection of smaller drawings. For example, inside of his piece titled “Rocky Mountain Eagle” resides an American flag, several landscapes, a fisherman, hot air balloons, the Colorado state flag and flags for all of our surrounding states. A skier, a herd of horses, a setting sun, a ranch, mountains and more are all drawn within his galloping horse in “Thundering Past.” Gupton’s work challenges viewers to look closely into each piece to discover everything that he intends us to see.
Included within each piece is Gupton’s signature three-eyed fish named Bob. The idea for featuring Bob in each of his carefully-crafted paintings originated during Gupton’s early days as an artist. While painting a mural above a bar for his college friends, Gupton was urged to include “Blinky” from the Simpson’s in the piece. Steadfast in his refusal to include one of Matt Groening’s characters in his work, Gupton eventually relented with the insistence that he create his own character. Bob began appearing in murals that Gupton was commissioned to paint throughout the country. Soon after, Bob was a hit. As a result, it only makes sense to include him in each new piece. Viewer’s of Gupton’s work will spend hours looking for him in each painting, likening the experience to a fine art version of finding Waldo.
Gupton’s background as an artist begins with his birth. His mother, Penny Gupton, is a world-renowned watercolorist. He studied business and art in college and launched his career from there, first as a muralist. Gupton’s specialty is tromp l’oeil, a technique based in the artist’s ability to trick the eye. This technique is still seen in his work today, particularly in the mosaic tile work he is commissioned to create. Gupton is fresh off of finishing two major mosaic commissions for Disney’s Aulani Resort, one featuring a 35-foot-long octopus and the other showing three giant sting rays. In addition to his pen, ink and acrylic work, mural work and mosaic tile designs, Gupton also sculpts in bronze. Each sculpture is adorned with his customary detail work.
Through all of the bouncing around and endless smiling, Gupton always finds himself contentedly drawing tiny details into his impeccably painted subjects.