Jasper congratulates Lexington portrait artist Michael Geddings on winning the Artfields 2017 2D People's Choice Award. A commission artist who works from his home studio, we wanted to get to know a bit more about Geddings and the story behind his winning portrait. Here's what we learned:
Jasper: First, tell us about your background and training.
Geddings: I’m basically self-taught. I’ve been drawing from the moment I could hold a pencil. I was in advanced art classes throughout high school with a wonderful teacher. The summer before my senior year I spent at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts. That experience really helped me and exposed me to new ideas and mediums. I studied at USC for 2 years, but left to go out on my own. That was in 1992 and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Jasper: You are working artist who does commission work -- Can you tell us about that? How much of your work is spent on commission work and how much on creations of your own design? How will the Artfields award effect your commission work?
Geddings: Yes, I am a commission artist and I work out of my home studio. In an average year I will produce 200 to 225 portraits in various mediums. Most of my work is in charcoal, but pencil, oil and acrylics are very popular as well. I also do 5 to 10 murals a year also. With the steady demand of work that comes in, it does leave very little time to explore and create original ideas and concepts. The piece, “Hopeful Soul”, that was at Artfields was done between commissions I was doing at the time. I hope that the Artfields experience will help me to connect to the larger art world and to forge new friendships while I get new commissions.
Jasper: Do you have another day job like many artists? If so, what is it?
Geddings: I do have another job that I enjoy. I’ve been with a company called Mac Papers for many years. I work there as a branch manager with the responsibility to oversee the morning operations of getting the paper out on time to the customer. I have great flexibility with my hours which allows me to leave around 11:30am-12:00 pm every day. I could never do a 9-5 and work as an artist also. On the average afternoon I have about 5 hours to myself to create. I typically produce about 1 piece a day.
Jasper: The piece that won the People's Choice award had religious undertones -- is that a common element to your work?
Geddings: Again as a portrait artist, there are no opportunities to really express myself or to creatively think outside the box. I just simply produce what the client wants. In the case of this piece, I was able to say something from my heart and display God’s love for us and the hope that one can have by trusting him to guide us. The subject in the piece has that hope and clinches to it during his obvious day to day struggles. He has nothing but the shirt on his back and hope in his heart. Will I continue this theme in future works? Probably. I would like to have a series with that continuing theme
Jasper: What are the typical inspirations for your work?
Geddings: My biggest inspiration I have is the joy I get in my heart when I see the look on people’s faces when they see their finished piece. I have heard every story you can imagine as my clients explain the reasons for why they want this person done. Many of the portrait subjects I do are of their loved ones who have passed. From life-long marriages to unspeakable tragedies. There are many pets that have passed on that come through my studio, children that were taken too soon, and some that were stillborn. Those are the hardest ones to do. I believe I have been given this ability to help others and minister to them in this way. Every person that comes through my door is an instant friend.
Jasper: Had you entered Artfields before? When?
Geddings: This was the first time I’ve entered Artfields. I had heard of it, but never really had anything to show. Most of what I do is already sold before I put the first mark on the paper. I will be back though. It was an amazing experience.
Jasper: Can you take a moment to brag about any other accolades you've received?
Geddings: I’ve won several best of shows through the years. The first one was in 1978, I was in the 1st grade. Believe it or not, I still have it. Within the last year, I have won 2 Best of Shows with 2 different pictures. A 24X36 Charcoal entitled “John Lee Hooker” won top honors at the Rosewood Art and Music. Back in October the “Hopeful Soul” piece won also Best in Show at the SC State Fair. The current project that I’m involved with now is a mural design that will be on the Pecknell Music building in the center of Five-Points in downtown Columbia.
Jaseper: Where can we see your work now and in the near future?
Geddings: I have had work in a few galleries around town, but nothing at the moment. Usually those pieces are sample portraits to just show the buyer what I’m capable of producing. I am anxious about creating a series of originals for the purpose of showing. Like I said, everything I do is sold before I even begin.
Visit Geddings website at http://www.michaelgeddings.com/