The Genesis of Ideas

Hi All!

I get asked A LOT; "Where do you get your ideas?"

As cliched as it is in pop culture to see that question asked in movies or tv shows, in reality I hear it ALL the time and of course...I expect it. My work is not what you would expect to see on regular display in a local arts festival so I get a lot of really enthusiastic fans asking me about my process.

I'll be honest with you, I can't always say where my ideas come from. Sometimes they are culled from dreams. Sometimes they are from a confabulation of freely associated ideas or images. Sometimes the process of pareidolia, the science of seeing faces in everyday objects shows up. That one comes up A LOT. It doesn't surprise me. I like faces and I like hands; the more expressive parts of the body. I see them in EVERYTHING. Sometimes, one painting feeds the next.

To give you an idea, I did this piece the other day:

Surrealist Dream - Acrylic on Paper - 7" x 9" - Sean Chappell

It was partly based on a dream, partly on other recent artworks, partly on a feeling and also developed as I created the piece (the surfer dude just felt like he needed to be there, sailing away with love). Sometimes an artwork screams for me to add something in a certain area and that's what I'll give it; a bit of mulling and a test idea or two until something feels right.

After I painted this piece which I'm calling "Surrealists Dream", I sat and studied it for a while and realized that there are other paintings hiding in this piece just waiting to be realized. I then proceeded to pull out the hand, the "heart pumpkin" and the heart balloons and create another painting that is currently on my table. The top right corner also intrigued me and reminded me of an optometrists phoropter, the device they test your eyes with. After grabbing an image off the net and doing some development I came up with this:

Phoropter Rock-Face Sketch - Sean Chappell

The top left corner of the original painting was supposed to emulate a broken cliff face but in all honesty, I didn't look at a reference and I don't think it was realized as well as it could have been. So I combined my original idea, with a proper phoropter image and the images of cliff faces and this is what developed! I love it and I know you will too when you see the finished piece.

I'm going to go very Magritte with this painting, a large open ocean scene with this character (both left AND right sides of the face) floating above it with, I believe, the body (or bones) of a whale washed up on the shore. I see the potential for turning this painting into a bit of social commentary, suggesting that the myopia of the human race is leading to a marked decline of the animal species on the planet, especially in the oceans. We'll see how that develops...

So there you have it. THAT is where I get my ideas from. A bit of free association. A bit of drawing from other artworks. A bit of social commentary. And just a dash of being really freaking weird. That's my jam!

If you'd like to know more or would like to ask me a question about my process feel free to drop me a line anytime!

For now, that is all.


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