It’s Hard to Believe This Kentucky Artist’s Paintings Aren’t Photographs
Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you!
Kentucky artist Jon Gaddis paints landscapes of the Bluegrass State that look so realistic, that you can’t help but do a double-take. It’s almost magical how acrylic paint and water can become breathtaking scenes that will make anyone fall in love with Kentucky.
The Knox County native has lived his entire life in Kentucky. Aside from painting beautiful scenery from around the state, Gaddis resides in Madison County where he also works full time as a paramedic while studying nursing.
He attributes the start of his development into an artist to the poor eyesight he experienced as a child.
“Few people know this, but I have very poor vision without corrective lenses. My teacher discovered this when I was in fourth grade, sitting up front and straining with everything in me to see the chalkboard. In my mind, I thought everyone saw like that. Because I was near-sighted, I spent a great deal of time drawing trees, rocks, mountains - or what I found interesting in books (dinosaurs, mainly). I spent a lot of time looking closely at images and details and admiring their ranges of value.”
In addition to capturing Kentucky's “unfathomable beauty,” Gaddis explained a deeper reason behind his work.
“Art is therapeutic in its own right, and for myself, it has certainly been therapeutical in moments of tragedy in my own life. Historically, the purpose of art is to allow expression – and my work is no different. The messages in my work may be dynamic – from exposing issues such as the destruction of our environment to eliciting an emotional response to move my viewers. Primarily, I set out to create these moments of pause and familiarity for my viewers they can get ‘lost’ in; I want my viewers to have a sense of ‘going home’ in my work. I want to captivate them and for them to see the beauty in the world right in front of them; I want to ease their pain, deliver them from grief and give them something beautiful to look at and to reflect on inwardly.”
Currently, Gaddis has a few pieces permanently on display at the University of Kentucky in the Roach Oncology Center. He also earned the bragging rights of having one of his pieces hanging in Governor Andy Beshear’s office.
Last month, he concluded his first solo exhibit at the Loudon House in Lexington, Kentucky. Not only did Gaddis find seeing his own exhibit “surreal,” but he also learned more about himself as an artist.
“I was able to see my progression as an artist, and I found that I was tied to each piece, emotionally. With sharp focus I could recall my own life experiences as I’d painted each piece; it was a special feeling, and evoked things I had never experienced before.
He has also been stepping out of his indoor studio to create “Plein-air paintings”, which is French for outdoor painting. The videos of this process are posted on his Facebook page and are absolutely mesmerizing. One day he hopes to create an instructional video channel on Youtube. There’s no doubt that watching him paint could make anyone want to pick up a paintbrush, no matter their skill level!
Although Gaddis hopes to further his success as an artist by keeping his eyes open for new opportunities to display his work, he has a desire to not just show off the beauty of Kentucky but inspire others to do the same.
“On social media, I coined this initiate simply as, #PaintKentucky, which is a play on the popular #ExploreKentucky initiative. I want to help people; I want to help them get outside and explore their own creativity – to help them discover the therapeutic, healing effects art has on the soul. I think there’s an artist in all of us, and I want people to tap into that potential to help them through life’s trials.”
His upcoming exhibits and work along with his videos of Plein-Painting can be seen via his Facebook page. Want to add a piece of his amazing work to your home? Buy a print from his website shop! Can't wait to see more? Check out the gallery I've compiled below!