You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
Jon Lambert was born in Colorado Springs, but he first got serious about making art when he was living in North Carolina, then traveled around the country and to Mexico before landing in Denver. The 36-year-old says he did “lots of soul-searching and reflection during those trips,” and today he infuses revelations from his travels into unique fantasy art.
The Star Wars-loving artist started drawing when he was a kid; he’s currently pursuing an associate’s degree in art at Front Range Community College. “I’ve tried to paint landscapes and other things I didn’t have an interest in because I felt like those would sell,” Lambert remembers. But as he’s gotten deeper into his continuing education, Lambert says he stopped doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing and started painting for himself.
“I don’t want to have to try too hard; I thought it should just flow,” Lambert recalls. Today, the "landscapes" Lambert paints are outer space backdrops, and most of the surreal elements depicted are derived from science fiction. “Those sci-fi movies I watched as a little boy – Blade Runner, Star Wars – really got into me, and that’s how I filter things when I paint,” he explains.
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Inspiration also comes from dreams. Lambert does “a lot of dreamscape fantasy work,” he says, explaining that he’ll often wake up groggy and draw his interpretations of spiritual inflections.
The artist’s dreams are fun, vivid and really, really colorful. All of his work, in fact, is intensely bright. “I just love color. There’s color in life, and you can’t not put color in it,” says Lambert. Even when his art has a dark quality, it’s never “dark in terms of being devoid of color," he continues. “I figure, the more detail the better."
He's worked to develop a range of brushstrokes. “That came from years of practice and pushing myself,” he says. When Lambert first started painting, he used oils — mostly to learn patience. Today, though, he prefers acrylic on canvas. “Now I have that patience,” he offers, “and I don’t have to wait ten days for my paint to dry.”
Lambert did several shows when he was living in North Carolina, but when he first moved to Denver, he didn't have much luck with the local gallery scene — until he stumbled upon the Denver Art Society Gallery. As a single dad, Lambert couldn’t swing the exorbitant fees associated with traditional galleries; joining a co-op made sense financially, and it ended up offering some creative camaraderie, too. There's no cost involved beyond nominal member dues and volunteer obligations. “They just let me hang my art, and I keep all of the profits,” the artist explains.
Being around other creative people who are excited about art has been a huge benefit of belonging to the Denver Art Society. “There are all different kids of art forms, from metal sculpture to digital photography to painting,” Lambert says. With dozens of other talented folks to hang – and hang! – with, Lambert’s gotten much more than he bargained for.
Lambert and fellow co-op members show new stuff every First Friday, and Lambert's current body of work will be on display through the end of April. Lambert’s also pumped about his most recent gig: He's in the preliminary stages of illustrating a children’s book. “I met a guy through the co-op, and he said he had a friend who needed an illustrator,” explains Lambert. “You have to go after what you want in life. I jumped on the opportunity immediately, and now I have the honor to create sci-fi children’s books.”
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Lambert has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital to publish another children’s book — this one more serious, about the separation anxiety both parents and children feel when a family goes through divorce. The story is deeply personal and delves into the sadness Lambert felt when he couldn’t see his daughter every day. “It left me feeling really lonely, and I’m sure she felt that way, too,” says Lambert, adding that he wanted to create something to show other children that their parents are never too far away.
For more information on Lambert and his upcoming projects, visit his Facebook page.
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