The Verve: Travis Chapman combines humor, reality in paintings

Travis Chapman is your average guy’s guy.

He attended University High School and then took classes at the University of Washington without a goal in mind.

In 1998, he started a roofing company that he still runs today, spending a lot of time on ledges and ladders.

He knows his way around tools but some of the tools he uses are a little unexpected: If you were to drop by his home unannounced on a quiet evening, you’d find him at the kitchen table, bent over a canvas and brandishing a paintbrush.

“While painting, the focus and concentration it takes makes me forget about everything else,” he said. “I love the freedom it gives my imagination. The only limit is the skill of my hand.”

In search of a quiet hobby, Chapman took up woodworking and then beading.

When his daughters were born about a year apart, he took up coloring and then water coloring, sitting alongside them and it progressed to a quiet hobby. Eventually, he took up acrylic painting and now, he paints regularly at his kitchen table.

“Originally I just wanted to make some nice paintings and I still do,” he said. “But after a lot of practice, I learned that the act of painting was what I enjoyed.”

Chapman, 40, is a self-taught artist who has spent the past 12 years practicing, mastering perspective and fine-tuning his personal style which ranges from landscapes and regional landmarks including Mount Spokane and Riverfront Park to comedic commentaries with unexpected additions to lovely settings or tongue-in-cheek renditions of relevant moments in human history.

“It is more shocking to see something out of place on something that is painted well. I want to be on the edge of uncomfortable but not gross, rude or mean. I like to subtly mention things but still make you laugh even if you disagree,” he said.

“Mallard Duck Stuck in a Six Pack” shows two ducks gliding on the Spokane River with the Clocktower in the background and couples strolling across the bridge. It seems that love is in the air, but look a little closer and you will see a hapless duck looking on from the water’s edge and wearing a plastic necklace from a long-ago consumed six pack.

More obvious ribs include Chapman’s take on the first Thanksgiving that has Abraham Lincoln as a centaur and holding a butterball turkey.

Other works by Chapman include science fiction and pop culture references as well as stunning portraits of his two girls and studies of nature.

Since spring, Chapman has exhibited his more traditional paintings at Pacific Flyway Gallery, 409 S. Dishman Mica Road.

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