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Local artist to have work displayed at Riffe Gallery

August 29, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

In July, a special exhibition opened at the Ohio Art Council's Riffe Gallery. The exhibit is titled "Creating Identity from Place" and features 73 works created by 19 members of the Ohio Plein Air Society.

Among those 19 artists is one local artist from Canfield. Christopher Leeper is a realist painter working in all mediums. His award-winning work has been shown in solo and juried exhibitions throughout the country.

He has illustrated four children's books and has written and illustrated the book Realism in Watermedia, (North Light). His work has also been featured in The Artist's Magazine, Plein Air Magazine, Watercolor Magic and Ohio Magazine and in the book Splash 14 (North Light).

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The oil painting titled 'Greisa Hill, 2017' by Canfield artist Christopher Leeper will be among the pieces on display through mid-October at the Ohio Art Council‚'s Riffe Gallery.

Leeper participates in a number of juried plein air events each year. He is a frequent award winner. In 2017, he won second place at the Wayne Plein Air Festival (Philadelphia), honorable mention at the Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival, second place Quickdraw at Mountain Maryland, third place in the small works category En Plein Air Texas and an award of excellence in the 2017 Ohio Plein Air Competition.

Leeper had a passion for art at an early age.

"I have been drawing and painting since childhood," he said. "It seems it has always been a part of my life."

He started painting full time in 2000 and eight years ago started doing plein air events. In plein air, the artist is on location or outside actually observing the focus of his or her artistic creation.

"Not all artists enjoy painting plein air," he said. "I enjoy it but also work quite a bit from my studio. Being on location allows you to be closer to the subject and capture a more complete sense of the environment. It is more of a complete sensory experience. Studio painting is certainly more comfortable and controlled. Plein air painting can be very difficult if the weather is not cooperating. I have painted in snow and rain. Wind is one of the biggest obstacles. Wind can knock your easel over and make things very uncomfortable if it is cold outside."

The plein air paintings are also done at competitions held all over the country. Leeper said they can be as long as a week and have as many as 30 artists participating. He said the art created is then displayed and judged, then offered for sale. Some large events can see sales of art close to $250,000.

"The biggest events and the hardest to get juried into are in Easton, MD, Door County, Wisconsin and San Angelo, Texas," Leeper said. "Because of my family schedule I have only applied for the Texas event. I will be there this October for the third straight year. Other events that I have participated in are in Annapolis, Maryland, Philadelphia, Finger Lakes area, New York and Cumberland, Maryland."

Leeper also teaches art from his Canfield Studio. He holds a BFA degree in graphic design from YSU.

For the show in Columbus, Leeper will have five works in the show. The subjects are from Cleveland, Philadelphia, Canandaigua, NY and Texas.

For the future, Leeper plans to continue painting and teaching art.

"I hope to continue to paint and teach," he said. "I feel very blessed to make my living as an artist."

The Ohio Art Council will continue the exhibit of Plein Air Society artists at Riffe Gallery, 77 South High St. Columbus until mid-October.



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