Chris Knopp: Making Waves
Chris Knopp has been painting with watercolors for over 40 years, enjoying both the beauty and the challenge the often-tricky medium presents. In addition to displaying his work at Gold Country Artists’ Gallery, he also has two paintings on display this month at Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art in Moraga. Finding inspiration in nature—walking along streams and going for hikes and motorcycle rides—the Cameron Park resident is never short on local stimulus. “The mix of wildlands so close by, the intense beauty of the foothills, the proximity to the ocean and mountains, and the culture of the nearby metropolitan areas makes El Dorado County ideal,” shares Knopp.
HLB: WHAT ARE SOME RECCURRING THEMES IN YOUR WORK?
CK: Nature and water are my core subjects—I never tire of painting streams—but recently I’ve had a lot of fun painting people. It’s easier to elicit the emotion of a scene if there’s a person in the picture. Regardless of subject, I hope my pictures [conjure up] feelings or memories—similar to the ones I feel when creating a painting.
HLB: WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF WORKING WITH WATERCOLORS?
CK: I love their loose, drippy look and am amazed by the emotions you can portray with them. The looseness seems to embody my style and definition of art. I can carefully plan a picture and stay within the lines, but when I’m done the picture seems contrived and boring. If the composition is less tied to reality, it seems you can be more expressive, ultimately making a painting more exciting. Though watercolors can be difficult to control, the randomness of the medium forces you to work with the surprises that occur, which means outcomes are not entirely predetermined and learning never stops.
HLB: WHO HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST INFLUENCES ON YOUR ART?
CK: My parents loved art and were [great artists]. My mother painted with oils and sold a lot of pictures, my father was an architect who supported our family with his business, and my sister has been an incredible artist her entire life.
HLB: ARE THERE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST?
CK: Finding the time to paint has always been a challenge, but now I’m retired and discovering other personal limitations. Mainly, I’m impatient; I want to see real improvement each time I paint and even though I do see [it], I’m a harsh critic of my work, which is helpful but also self-defeating. My best pictures arise from a combination of patience and thoughtfulness regarding how to make it the best.
HLB: DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE GOALS FOR YOUR WORK?
CK: I want to take more art classes and enter more contests—both of which help me strive for improvement and make painting even more fun and interesting. chrisknoppwatercolors.com
By Heather L. Becker