Framed painting, acrylic on paper of Burton Village, Neston, Cheshire Circa 1950’s. Signed lower right corner. Commissioned by Wedgewood.
John L. Chapman was born in 1946 in Blackburn, Lancashire. He attended Blackburn Art College. He is a painter of urban landscapes, townscapes, transport, rural and maritime scenes amongst other subjects. He has painted mainly in acrylics, but he is equally proficient with oils, watercolours and gouache.
When John left school, he started working as a junior layout artist in Blackburn’s local newspaper – the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. Although the job was less than fulfilling creatively, John was still able to attend Blackburn Art College. At home, John was still working on his paintings.
He later started to write to British car manufacturers hoping to find work as a car stylist. Although unsuccessful, John was soon to be offered the job of technical illustrator at British Northrop in Blackburn. He produced exploded line drawings of ‘Super Loadmaster’ mechanical shovels.
In 1968, John decided to fulfill his lifetime ambition by establishing himself as an independent professional artist. He then made his way to the galleries of Manchester. J. Davey & Son, a gallery on Bridge Street, bought several railway paintings there and then. Almost immediately John received commissions for specific subjects and in oils.
For the next few years, John painted many streets and buildings in Manchester’. He still enjoys painting the area around St. Anne’s Square where much of its original architecture is retained.
The Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington was the first Lancashire gallery to display his work. Blackburn Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of John’s work in 1980, beginning an association that has lasted over 20 years. The exhibition was preceded by a TV interview with Stuart Hall, which was shown on ‘Look North West’. Over 600 people visited the exhibition on the first day, making it one of the gallery’s most popular and successful exhibitions.
By this time John was travelling more widely and was able to exhibit scenes from all over Britain.
In 1984, John finally managed to get a painting hung in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. It was a small gouache of a horse being decorated for a show, entitled ‘Shire Pride’. There were over 1,000 other works in the exhibition, but his had sold on the preview evening.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, there was a change of direction in John’s work, towards rural scenery. It was work of this nature that bought a series of commissions for Wedgewood plate designs.
By the late ’80s, John was working in acrylics almost exclusively, although he still regularly uses gouache, watercolours, and occasionally oils.
John’s keen eye for period detail has bought a steady flow of requests from commercial clients looking to recreate something of their own earlier histories. These clients include Rochdale Co-operative Society and Harrods.
Rural scenes with a strong sense of nostalgia will always play an important part in John’s work, and Maritime subjects too will continue to engage him, particularly as trips to the coastlines of Kent and northeast Scotland are constantly providing fresh inspiration.
He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1984.
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