The colorful world around him has served as an inspirational backdrop for local artist Christopher Vasil. Oil paintings and acrylics decorate his easels, demonstrating what might appear to be a lifelong dedication to the visual fine arts. Perhaps surprisingly, though, Vasil has only pursued painting as a passion for the past four years. His skill and eye for detail, however, have him ready to display his work alongside that of the area’s best.
“I’ve always enjoyed painting,” he said, “and I took a few classes in high school, but I didn’t really get into that much until a few years ago.”
While many artists prefer to depict foreign landscapes or distant locations, Vasil often turns to anything and everything around him to put on the canvas. From portraits to still-lifes, he is constantly finding new media and motivation.
“I take my digital camera everywhere with me,” he said. “I can take anywhere from 50 to 100 photos a week. Whatever I see, I go with it. That’s where it all starts.”
The photos serve as his composition, capturing an instant anywhere he chooses, which inevitably is portrayed through his brushes.
Local streetscapes along a construction-laden Route 26, a fireboat docked along the waterways in Lewes or an original angle of the current Indian River Inlet Bridge, there’s no scene too obscure for Vasil to take a stab at.
“I spend a lot of time looking around,” he said. “There are colors and beauty everywhere. When I paint, I go for the things that people usually overlook. I like to paint whatever I am around and what I pass. There’s so much going on.”
In addition to the urban landscapes, Vasil can take on a portrait or a still life resting on a tabletop. His 4-year-old son, Nolan, has also served as the subject of some of Vasil’s paintings.
Although relatively new to the art scene, Vasil has been welcomed into the community with open arms, recently joining the Rehoboth Art League.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, Vasil will take part in the 31st Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival, sponsored by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, an event that, since his move to Sussex County in 2000, Vasil has visited but never been a part of himself.
His networking since getting into the art scene has revolved around connections made over the World Wide Web. Vasil was a member of the online art community, where shots of artwork were shared and discussed through forums and messages.
“I got to know a lot of people, and it’s a great way to learn things,” Vasil said.
Working at an easel is quite a jump from his everyday job as an automobile claims adjustor, but Vasil said he wouldn’t give up painting for anything.
“A lot of claims adjustors don’t grow up wanting to do that,” he said of his job. “Many of them have something else on the side. I enjoy painting.”
Art was a big influence for him as he grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
“I used to cut school with my friends to go to art museums,” he said. The Cleveland Museum of Art served as a refuge from the classwork and got him interested in the visual arts. “I’d spend hours there,” he said.
Today, he studies many contemporary artists, with hopes of teaching his own classes someday. Art theory classes in Easton, Md., have helped him to perfect his skill.
Vasil’s Dagsboro home serves as a tranquil work environment, and he usually takes on a project by working up to four or five hours at a time. Some paintings are even completed in that time.
“Once I decide on a photo to go with, I know how the painting is going to work,” he said.
With dozens of additional projects every few weeks, he is eager to give his work the exposure of an event like the Boardwalk Art Festial.
“In the future,” he said, “I would love to be in national art scene. At the same time, I would also like to be represented locally. At some point, I’d like to teach art, too, even if it’s just a workshop.” Painting provides him with plenty of opportunity. “That’s the great thing about art,” he said. “You can work from any location.”
September’s Boardwalk Art Festival has become an end-of-summer staple, and Vasil said he hopes to capitalize on the crowd.
“I’d really like to be approached by a gallery,” he said. “The show will also be a great way to meet people and get in touch with collectors.”
The 31st Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. in downtown Bethany Beach, along the boardwalk and beach-side streets, and will feature 120 artists and crafters throughout the area. For additional information, visit www.bethany-fenwick.org.