LIBERTYVILLE – Local artist John Kirkpatrick Jr. of Libertyville has always known that art would play an important role in his life.
But it wasn’t until his late 20s that he realized he wanted to fully pursue a career in it as a painter.
“I wanted to be happier. … I wanted to enjoy my work at the end of the day,” Kirkpatrick said, explaining why he steered away from his corporate job at the time.
Kirkpatrick has been exploring and creating art since he was a young boy, and like many young artists, he started by drawing his favorite cartoon characters and sports figures from newspapers and television.
Born and raised in Mundelein, Kirkpatrick was a standout in his school art classes and earned a full tuition scholarship to study painting at Northeastern Illinois University, where he attained a bachelor’s degree in 1999.
Kirkpatrick said that without the consistent support and positive reinforcement from his teachers, mentors, family and friends he likely would not have made the jump to pursuing a professional career as an artist.
Kirkpatrick presents his figurative subject matter through a strong use of bold color palettes, thick brushstrokes, intense textures and vibrant tones. He seeks to create visual and emotional stories in the human face and body. His preferred medium is acrylic paint applied to large canvases, which allows him to work fast and fearlessly, creating vastly expressive moods via fresh, spontaneous creativity.
Kirkpatrick prefers figurative works as he is drawn to the diversity of facial features and expressions, body language and postures, moods and feelings.
“In my paintings, emotion and viewer response are everything. With my abstract expressionist style, I use texture, heavy lines and color to convey this. I hope that when the viewer looks at my work, they will feel what the subject is feeling and experiencing,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said the most rewarding part about being an artist these past 25 years is the ability to freely express himself. The main idea he hopes to accomplish with his paintings is to show there is more beneath the surface than what meets the eye.
Kirkpatrick has exhibited his paintings in galleries in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. He has sold original paintings to collectors all over the U.S. In addition to his popular work with faces and the human body, Kirkpatrick creates highly collectible paintings featuring vivid imagery of animals, cityscapes, fashion, flowers and everyday objects.
Kirkpatrick is represented by the Blue Moon Gallery in Grayslake, 18620 Belvidere Road, where he shows his paintings at monthly exhibitions. The gallery is open to the public on weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. and during Artist Receptions on the fourth Saturday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m.
The next artist reception is June 25 and will feature live music. Patrons can meet Kirkpatrick and other artists represented by the gallery. Kirkpatrick’s work also can be seen at thebluemoongallery.com.