Christopher Garvey
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"Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it."

Robert Motherwell

I was born in Jackson, Tennessee in 1979. I was raised outside of Memphis and spent my early years mostly experimenting in making art, never truly pursuing a career in art. In 2001 I joined the Navy and spent 10 years of my life in Italy. I’ve since left the Navy and now work a full time job and paint in my free time. Something I’ve always enjoyed is history, and more specifically a tangible history like found objects from antique stores or flea markets. Looking at the photographs that I work with, I wonder what these people may have been thinking at the time that the photo was taken. Did this person love? Were they bored? What were their interest? We’ve all loved or felt boredom or excitement and it that connection that I look for. I hope that my work and in turn these long forgotten individuals can speak for me.

I’ve experimented with many different techniques, from traditional painting to mixed media and have always enjoyed working in some form of printing method. Working with old photographs that I find in local antique stores and flea markets. I focus on how these found images of mostly forgotten individuals can relate to me in some way, merging a contemporary approach with mostly found images as well as snips of my own photography. Be it a memory, emotion or something physically appealing, I study each photo and will enlarge and either eliminate or accentuate certain elements of each photo.


I typically start by preparing a birch panel surface with 2 or 3 coats of acrylic gesso, sanding each coat before the next until I get a nice smooth eggshell texture. I then begin scouring the internet or local antique shops for vintage photos that are clear and that might speak to me in some way. It might bring back a memory or is simply humorous to me.

I then take that photo and scan it in at 600 dpi and take it into adobe photoshop where I can manipulate it and add layers working on a general composition. Granted, this typically changes while I work on the actual painting. Once I get a general idea for the design I then either print it out myself in 8 x 10 pages enlarging it 3 or 4 times its original size, or I’ll get Staples engineering prints done in large sheets.

Now that the image is ready and my panel is prepared and I have an idea for the direction I’m going to go, I cover the panel where my image is going to be transferred with Acrylic gel medium. I’ve used both Matte and Gloss and both work just fine. I lay my print image side down onto the panel where I have applied the gel medium and smooth out the image pressing the entire image down firmly so as to have contact with the whole sheet. I wait at least 24 hours. After 24 hours I then soak the paper and begin to gently rub the paper off of the panel where the ink from the print has actually soaked into the gel medium. This process is called paper lithography.

I then add and remove certain elements to help wither bring focus or help to eliminate nonessential elements. Adding some of my photography, mostly details and close-ups that are virtually abstract in some cases, I begin to merge the images with layers of oil paint creating stains and thick textures of paint. I might add additional prints of typographic elements and using patterns to help add textures.

Each piece will have some significance to my personal life and I hope that they will be able to speak to the viewers as well.