When I began working on my next installment of my Creative Friends Series, I interviewed Wayne Epperly for a couple of hours and recorded that conversation. I have used snippets of that talk throughout this blog. Here they are all together, if you would like to listen to just the audio recordings. In them, Wayne discusses with me many aspects of his artistic life, his influences, his education, and attitudes about art. I hope you'll enjoy it with me.
I guess when you've been painting for fifty-five+ years (since age 7 when he did his first oil painting) you would have tons of subject matter... Choosing an example of pieces to share with you in a gallery was tricky, but I narrowed it down. Below is just a sample of what is in his studio today. Click on the thumbnails to make them larger and see the full pieces. Be assured, you don't want to miss that view:
Such a wide variety of work! As you read on in this blog, you can read or listen to more info about some of these paintings. The first two are from the 'Cave/Native American Series', then he did a series of red nose women, the next is just one of many landscapes, then the next two have sculpture figures in the painting. The red car was for the Courage Show 'How do you Painting Courage', next is an abstract which he plans to do more of and the last four are from the new series, not yet seen by the public, called 'Stick Figures' which he talks about in a couple of the recording. Enjoy!!
Where do we start on such a vast career? Maybe the beginning. Here's a recording of Wayne talking about his dad and the great influence he has had on his life. Actually, you'll find his father's influence all those many of those segments.
After high school Wayne went off to an art school called Gloucester Academy of Fine Arts in Massachusetts. Today he still shares the influence of John Terelak and the recently-deceased Charles Movalli. (When this happened many of the nationally-known artists of today posted online about this loss to the art world. So I tried to learn something aout this man. It looks like Movalli didn't have a website or a Facebook page, but I did find a great post (with videos!) in the Oil Painters of America blog that you might enjoy. These two men and the other instructors from the academy days influence Wayne's way of thinking and painting today. He also shares many of these experiences when he's teaching his own students today.
Here's Wayne talking about these two men and his career along with his thoughts about plein air painting.
Because Wayne has been in the art world for so many years, I asked him to tell me about some of his more successful gallery experiences over the years. He told me about a solo show at the Captain's White House Gallery in Graham several years ago. When this show opened, with 50-60 pieces - many of which were small, of course - he had already sold over $10,000.00 worth of pieces. It turned out to be the biggest crowd that that gallery had ever hosted. (Being a hometown boy may have helped.) The fact that Wayne was running a full-time business at the time of this show struck him as significant. He found the entire experience a strong motivator, showing him that it was possible to have a career with his art.
He also had successful shows at Solo Gallery in Winston Salem (no longer there) and at Carteret Contemporary Art Gallery in Morehead City. Several galleries representing him in Arizona during his "Cave or Native American Series period" was very successful as well. There is a bit of Wayne talking about the 'Native American' painting series in one of the recordings so I hope you catch that part... it's very interesting. Incidentally, it was during this period that I first met Wayne. The paintings of his Native American Series have always been some of my personal favorites of his work, although this new series called 'Stick Figures' is growing on me. (More about that in a later recording near the end.)
Around the time Wayne and I had this talk, I'd just finished reading a great book called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she said that artists should never rely on your creativity to support you, so don't quit their 'day job'. I ask Wayne what jobs had he held to support his family (two daughters and a former wife) as well as his painting habit over the years. Well, his list is long and diverse. He managed several grocery chains over the years. He taught art for over 10 years at Alamance Community College., worked for a manufacturing electrical company, and as an artist at a company which made afghans/throws and tapestries, which led to his being their art director and having 29 artists working for him. He developed a company that made teddy bears with representatives all over the USA, an enterprise that was very, very successful. I'll quote him here: "The fax machine never stopped!". In the late 90's he owned a commercial faux finishing company. The most lucrative job were the five years with NASCAR when he did drawings for their marketing materials. He told me that during that time, it wasn't unusual to make up to $25,000. a month! Yes, sir, that's good money for an artist. So you see he didn't quit his 'day job' to make his art. He did his art at night or on weekends. Just like Big Magic suggests.: Your creativity is a gift!
I asked him if he had a favorite from all the thousands of paintings he has done over the years. To my surprise, in fact, he did. The title of this painting is "Chromatic Matrix" and it is being shown at this moment at Greenville (NC) Museum of Art. And is for sale! This is the piece seen in the two photos below
He said this painting took over ten years to paint, as he'd work on it for a while and then have to wait for the painting to "talk" to him. It has various materials used in it: there are soft and hard molding paste for textures, tissue paper, glue and grout, all used for more texture. He used actual lace with molding paste on her dress. There's both acrylic and oil paint, and real copper powder in her wings. It's a large painting - 5' x 5' - and 'a must see' to really get the essence of it beauty! The photo below isn't as great as standing in front of it. The one on the right was taken with his family at the show in Greenville, NC at the show's opening.
The fact that he had a favorite painting made me wonder if there was a painting he was sorry he sold. "Yes!" It was also a large painting... four foot by six foot. I photographed a print of it for you to see.
In this recording, Wayne tells me about his thoughts on who he paints for today. He admitted that if he were painting only to make money he would just be doing landscapes, which for him, he said, is like 'riding a bicycle' and once you learn, you find it easy. Incidentally, the painting that accompanies this segment was done during our painting sessions together. For me, it's not like 'riding a bicycle' yet, but there's great hope on my part.
I've been painting with Wayne for about a year and a half each week and have been told repeatedly that my paintings have changed and improved greatly. Over this period I've also watched and listened to him talk about and develop his next series called the 'Stick Figure Series'. I can't leave you without letting your hear about his ideas of these current and future paintings and statuary. Just listen to how excited he gets talking about it. We all have something to look forward to as this series evolves into the larger reality.
For all artists, our studios are our sanctuaries and Wayne's truly is that for him. He has a 1200 square foot space that is a snapshot of the many facets of this artistic life. Click through the shots below and enjoy!
I hope you've enjoyed reading and/or listening to this installment of my Creative Friends Series. I'll be honest with you and admit that this one has been the hardest to put together because there's so much about Wayne's artistic life worth sharing. It was a lot of work on Melody Watson's part, as well as mine, as she helped me with the audio aspect. Thank you for your time; any comments can be posted here. If your comments are for Wayne, I'll see that he gets them. Ciao!