For the love of art

Van Lynch was a late-comer to painting, but he’s made up for it with passion

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DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION | Lynch’s varied, colorful paintings have earned him a following after just a few years in the art world. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Having only been painting for about two years, Van Lynch isn’t at Thomas Kinkeade’s level of fame yet. But that hasn’t stopped him from selling multiple, high-price pieces to establishments around Dallas. (And he’s much better than Kinkeade.) Lynch has turned his creative side into a lucrative part-time art career, working his way up through the ranks of local artists with his unique abstract style.

That’s a far cry from his corporate background. Before he started painting, Lynch graduated Stephen F. Austin University with a degree in business and immediately began working into the hotel industry. He hopped from East Coast to West in various sales and marketing jobs before settling in his native Dallas.

“I was missing something, so that’s why I kind of shifted gears,” he says. Now, Lynch’s day job as an apartment manager for the Amli Residences allows him to live comfortably in his apartment, surrounded by his artwork.

Painting started as a Christmas present from his mother and sister — and he took to it like a fish to water.

“I’ve always wanted to paint or do something creative and I’ve never set aside a time in my life to do that,” Lynch says. “One year, my sister and my mom bought me art lessons with [Cynthia Chartièr] at her beautiful studio and that’s where it all started. I painted with her for approximately six months at that studio. It went from there.”

With Chartièr’s guidance, Lynch discovered a facility as an abstract artist.

“I came in for my first lesson and I was like, ‘What do I do, teacher?’” Lynch recalls. “She said, ‘Anything you want; I’m just here to guide you.’”

After his official lessons ended, Lynch bought studio time for a good place to “make a mess.” It was also where he could meet and trade feedback with other artists, some of whom became friends.

Lynch draws from a variety of inspirations, from colors to images. He frequents the library and owns numerous art books, taking after his favorite artists such as Kandinsky, Mondrian and Monet. When he paints, though, Lynch doesn’t always have a definite image in his mind; he says he works better when he sets out the colors he wants and just goes with it until he deems it finished.

Lynch has displayed his art in shows and festivals around Dallas. His canvases start at about $200 for a 36-by-48-inch piece, rising depending on size and complexity.

One of his biggest sales was to the Downtown restaurant Dallas Fish Market, which bought six canvases from him for their renovation. But even that money goes back into his art.

“I bought more canvas and paints,” Lynch laughs about his proceeds. “For me, as a beginner, it’s my secret little addiction, being at the art supply store every chance I get. I just can’t stop myself.”

The best part about painting for Lynch, though, isn’t the paycheck that comes with a custom order — it’s the happiness he gives someone.

“I think the biggest satisfaction is when someone sees something the first time and are like, ‘Oh my God, I love it,’ Something I did really spoke to someone.” He recalls one instance when he sold a piece to a musician who said, “When I see that, I wanna go home and write a new song.”

Lynch hopes he can retire from his day job eventually and become a fulltime artist, painting and teaching on the side. He’d also like to expand his repertoire to include other artistic media.

 “I’d love to do sculptures, mobiles, welding — things of that nature,” he says. He’d also like to work lights and soldering into his art.

Lynch admits to being a bit of a size queen: His ideal work involves bright, bold colors, simplicity and a lobby-worthy size. His project dream is to combine two dozen of his own medium-sized paintings into a mosaic to make a larger “statement” piece.

The only regret Lynch has is that he waited so long to start what has become his favored hobby, but “now I’m doing it” and he doesn’t plan on stopping.

In additional to commissioned paintings, Lynch likes to use giclèe, a method where art is photographed with a high-resolution camera and then printed onto commercial items such as T-shirts and wood. “I’m not above coffee cups,” Lynch chuckles.

— Draconis Von Trapp

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Out Youth gets $25K from Sir Elton’s foundation

Out Youth Austin today announced that the organization for LGBT youth has received a $25,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation for Out Youth’s K.Y.S.S. (Knowing Your Status is Smart) program for HIV prevention, testing and counseling for young people, ages 12-19, in Central Texas.

The group received a $25,000 grant for the same program in March from the London-based Red Hot Organization. The Elton John AIDS Foundation is based in New York.

Out Youth Austin Executive Director Candice Towe called the latest grant “a tremendous Christmas present” for the organization.

Monrovia Van Hoose, Out Youth’s clinical director who oversees K.Y.S.S., said, “It’s critical that GLBTQ youth have regular access to confidential HIV testing and counseling. Staff, clinical interns and volunteers have received intensive training to provide testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

According to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control, 48 percent of Americans ages 13-24 who are infected with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. In 2008, CDC noted that American youth are at “persistent risk” of HIV infection, and that many are “not concerned” about the risks of infection.

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