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Meet Grace Chepenik

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Chepenik.

Grace, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My passion for art was something I inherited from my maternal grandmother. As a young child, she helped me cultivate both my passion for art and my skills. Every summer, I would visit her in Acworth, Georgia, where I’d end up spending weeks with her painting in her studio. That tradition continues today through different workshops we take together each year. My grandmother, Carol Allegood, is a talented and award-winning watercolorist. I know her love for art is what planted and nurtured the seed for mine.

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. At four years old, my aunt recognized my affinity for art and took me to see a local artist where she bought me private art lessons for my birthday. When my siblings and I were young, my dad would purchase canvases and let us paint on the dining room table, I was the bossy ringleader of my three siblings during these painting projects. I would paint at the table to the point where it eventually became covered with color- so much that my dad couldn’t help but create an art studio for me in the house. He jokes about how he knows nothing about art, except that he likes a lot of texture, which I know still impacts how I use a paintbrush today. My mom even let me paint my room fuschia pink when I was ten- a color that recurs often in my work. I called her at work and asked if I could, and unknowing to her rode my bike that day to Sherwin Williams, paid in change, and she came home to mess of my hot pink room. The guy at the store asked me four times if I was sure it was the color I wanted. Color and art have always been a large aspect of my life. They are my voice.

Creating art makes me who I am. I love the community of artists, from Jacksonville to Miami and New York to Italy, experts have generously given of their time and talent to continue to teach and inspire me. I hope my work and pursuing my passions affect people to do the same.

I am studying painting and glassblowing at the University of Miami. This summer, I interned and studied in Sorrento and Venice, Italy. I plan to return in the spring and study in Florence. I always thought I would solely be a painter but my love for glass is overwhelming. I am working to combine my two passions and this upcoming year I am creating a series of paintings on and with glass. I get happy tears when I think about making work like this- because I know the art will be my most authentic and genuine work.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For the most part, my journey has been a smooth road. I am fortunate to have family and friends that support my goals and aspirations of being an artist. I have been blessed with my teachers, professors and caring people I have met through the process and the surrounding art communities.

I think my struggle I’ve faced along the way is focusing on one medium, style or concept to show through my artwork. I get excited about one project and then see another one and hop to the next. I have a hard time slowing down, realizing and appreciating what is in front of me. I also struggle with liking my natural style as a painter- my hand creates what it wants to at the end of the day. I struggled with this for a while, as I wanted to be a realistic artist- but I have learned to stop fighting it. This doesn’t mean I don’t continuously push myself as an artist- but I have learned to love my wild and energetic brushstrokes and build off that. I am not a very calm person and so I should not expect the art to be calm, because then it wouldn’t be mine.

Tell us about your art – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business is selling my paintings, prints and glass. I am most proud of how I pour myself into my work- it truly is an extension of myself. One of my favorite quotes is “When you buy something from an artist you are buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul, a piece of someone else’s life.” and I have found that to be incredibly true. It is like I am giving a little slice of myself away when I create artwork- and that is an extremely beautiful thing. I have a lot of love to give, that is why I am an artist.

I am known for my bright colors, intense brush strokes, and personality in my work. I try to present my love for life, connectivity to other beings, my inner chaos, energy around the subject and my vision of color throughout my work. This is what sets my work apart from other art.

An important aspect of my business is the relationships I cultivate. I think of myself as a personable human- and I try to be as genuine and caring as possible with customers. I want them to love the work they buy- and I ensure that. I keep people updated on their commissions and make sure they love it before they pay. I feel these relationships are the most important part of business because how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
This summer, I’ve experienced the proudest moments in my career as I have created art in Italy. Living in a different country and putting my work and self out there was a bit scary- but has helped me grow all the more. It has given me greater confidence and reassurance that this is the right path for me.

One of those accomplishments was glassblowing with maestros in Murano, Italy. Murano is the golden standard of glass and is very intimidating for a younger glassblower. Glass has been a male-dominated industry for over the last 1,000 years in Italy. I found myself the only woman working in at a glass hot shop full of men. Happily, I surprised the people I was working with and left with more ideas and learned techniques than I could have imagined. It was an electric feeling being surrounded by strangers who shared the same passion as me. The maestros taught me some of their tricks of the trade, and I left with an immediate urge to return.

A few weeks later, as I am interning at the SyArt Gallery in Sorrento, a job I got through Jacksonville University, the art gallery manager set me up with a live painting. At Hotel Vittoria Excelsior I was the featured artist for a charity event. It is an incredible opportunity to paint in front of an international crowd, and be able to hang my piece in the gallery afterwards. I first got involved with live paintings in Wynwood Miami, as the featured artist for SpeakFridays at three events. I am so happy to have brought a piece of Miami with me to Italy. I have a few more weeks of my internship in Sorrento and plan to complete more paintings during my time here.

I am very proud of myself for experiencing success in my career on the other side of the world at 20 years old. The many hours in the studio and putting myself out there is beginning to pay off, which is extremely exciting!

Pricing:

  • Commissioned piece 18×24- $525
  • Commissioned piece 24×30- $875
  • Commissioned piece 24×36- $1050
  • Commissioned piece 36×48- $2110
  • Commissioned piece 48×60- $3500

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