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Meet Jason Michael Bentley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Michael Bentley.

Jason was born in Urbana IL., in 1978. He took interest in drawing and the martial arts at a young age. Early foundations in copying cartoons and comic books later matured into more classical approaches with charcoal, watercolor, gouache, and oils. After acquiring a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and earning an AFA and BFA from Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign respectively, Jason spent the summer of 2002 in Korea and Japan to learn directly from some of the Asian cultures he admired. Armed with a backpack and a sketchbook, Jason spent entire days traversing the streets and parks of Soul, Osaka, and Tokyo – journaling/reflecting on the people he met and other colorful experiences while resting in the capsule hotels he found along the way. Upon returning to the States, Jason worked as a graphic designer, freelancer, and Tae Kwon Do instructor. In 2014, he moved to Chicago to focus on his painting career, and currently works as a commissioned portrait painter, exhibiting artist, and teacher.

Please tell us about your art.
On technique:
I am often moved to make an impression of what is beautiful and graceful. The simple aspects of applying a mark on paper or canvas is a joy, but working with a suite of marks that eventually deliver form is a way of giving life all over again. My drawings and paintings act as an outlet and reference to my studies and curiosities. My work often embraces the discipline of classical applications, yet makes allowances for little discoveries to soak into and loosen the confines of precision.

On discovery:
I paint and draw with many mediums. But prefer charcoal, watercolor/ink, and oils. As my subject matter can vary, I am drawn to the portrait and figure. Generally speaking, the human condition and the pursuit of experience is what drives my work. As curiosity is the greatest passage to study, I constantly look to people and other cultures to find our connections with nature, the drives of the individual, and the cumulative human engine. To paint any one thing, is to celebrate a part of all that exists within the scope of our interpretations, and to respect the truths offered inside and outside of it.

What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Current technology is great to gain exposure, and offers more reach for artists to gain potential patronage. But the concept of art has generally receded into an extraneous domain.

Art education is always of the greatest importance. Not just for the ones wanting to become artists, but also for those who would appreciate and support it. To put it plainly, as an artist, do your best work. Constantly refine and improve. No matter the philosophy or subject matter, make good craftsmanship a crucial part of your process. That is to be taken seriously by anyone, no matter the taste. This work will stand above everything else that threatens to be inconsequential. And henceforth, placing art on a higher platform.

I have worked independently while in Chicago. But I have been very impressed by the facilities and resources available to Chicago artists. Continue with the outreach and exposure.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website and social media is the best way to see works and progress in the studio. Also for general inquiries or purchase information. I welcome studio visits (Logan Square) and commissions. I’d love to talk to you!

I currently have work at the following galleries, and are welcome to inquire about acquiring a work:

Sacred Art
4619 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 728-2803

Gallery 1070
1070 W. Granville Avenue
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 878-9004

Jackson Junge Gallery
1389 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 227-7900

Cinema Gallery
120 West Main Street
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 367.3711

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All work by Jason Michael Bentley

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