Jeffrey Scott Weispfenning was born September 11, 1966 in Moorhead, Minnesota, the youngest of 5 children. He attended Minnesota State University, Moorhead, graduating in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree – Painting; also studying Printmaking and the Graphic Arts.
Weispfenning paints in a basement studio, dubbed “The Artcave” at his home in Minneapolis’ Longfellow Neighborhood where he lives with his wife, Sarah and one tuxedo cat. Every year he tries to participate in local art crawls: Art-A-Whirl, in Nordeast Minneapolis, as well as the LOLA Art Crawl in Longfellow, South Minneapolis.
Since 1993 Jeff has entered the annual “Midwestern Invitational Exhibition” at the Rourke Art Museum, Moorhead, Minnesota, where he worked for 5 years. He was one of the original artists exhibiting at the GK Art Gallery, Cooperstown, North Dakota, once “live-painting” at an opening. He has twice painted in the White Bear Lake, MN “Open Canvas” event. Currently, Jeff is painting new work for a one man exhibition at the Rourke Art Gallery, summer 2012.
Weispfenning has been employed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Registration Department, as a Reinstallation Technician, participating in the MIA’s major rebuilding projects. He has assisted at The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, moving and installing paintings. Jeff has also dabbled in the craft of stained glass, at Gaytee Stained Glass Studio and now works as a graphic “computer” artist at SignArt Co. in Mendota Heights, MN
I make art using oil paint on canvas. My paintings are usually imaginary portraits of sad people with dark emotions. I utilize my own memories and experiences as subject matter when I paint. Sometimes I have an exact idea of what I am about to paint. Other times, I just see what appears, adding and subtracting until I feel the piece is finished.
My portraits show the natural human condition we all have within ourselves. I am making a commentary on the world around me, poking fun at some types, while being more sympathetic towards others. Each portrait is a sad mixture of human frailty, innocence lost, addiction, misguided adventure, or just plain ugliness. Most of my work involves some kind of damage or failure.
I don’t always paint with that intention. I can be happy and content, but I do dwell on the sadness and badness of life. I want to say something about society and humankind and their choices using my cynical mindset and humor. This may be why I paint imaginary portraits, rather than directly portraying real people. I enjoy exaggerating the overall feel of the idea, using color or lack of color to my advantage.
My paintings show that love, pain, illness and death are natural outcomes of being human. People are always searching for love, but rarely do they find it. They may think they have it, but the feeling is only fleeting. Everyone gets hurt physically or mentally, gets sick, and experiences the death of loved ones and eventually themselves. This is what makes us all human. This is basic human nature.
I’ve always been interested in the “Visual Arts”, whether I was looking at my mother’s face or drawing funny pictures and laughing as a preschooler. In grade school, I pretended to be an Architect and enjoyed drawing pictures in art class. During high school, like most boys, I took the graphic arts courses. Studying in college, I meandered all over the place, but eventually came back to my senses, slowly, with Graphic Communications, then on to Printmaking and finally Painting.
I never thought I could make a living as an artist. But in the painting studio at Moorhead State University, I felt I was in the right place. I was learning a new skill, but was it really so new? It was at this time that I met most of my best friends and learned a great deal about myself. I also met my wife, Sarah. I was having the best time of my life!
Around this time, during a field trip to the Rourke Art Gallery, in Moorhead, MN, I met James O’Rourke, gallery director. He asked if I could help out, and eventually I was working weekends! It was here where I learned the most about art… and artists. I learned how to interact with people as well, working in a public space. It was one of the craziest 5 years of my life!
My paintings are portraits of imaginary people. A teacher of mine once said that people were the most difficult things to paint. I enjoy trying to paint the person as realistically as possible, yet they always become skewed, expressive somewhat. They show emotion, portraying an idea. I call it Expressive Realism.
I love using color. Colors represent feelings and help the viewer see emotion. I also enjoy the use of outline, perhaps from my days in the drawing and printmaking studios.
The most intriguing thing about painting a portrait is that the artist gets to know their subject well, after many, many hours! It’s very emotional to finish a painting. Most pieces take many days and weeks of work, and finally when done, there is something very beautiful and wonderful to look at. I love looking at most of my paintings, both old and new, and have a difficult time parting with them. They are my creations, part of myself, my children in a way! I can’t wait to show them to other people, to see their reactions, good or bad!
As I start a painting, I may have an idea in mind, but other times, I have no clue. Happy Accidents! The paintings always get finished one way or another. I may have a hard time with the piece, but after many hours of smearing paint around, the kinks seem to work themselves out. There once was an artist who’s wife would take away paintings when she thought they were finished! I prefer to decide for myself, often under or overworking them!
As I am painting, I notice that certain images or themes keep reappearing. Beautiful women, young girls, crazy sadness, dark insanity, green eyes, orange hair, religious overtones, human sexuality, simple humor, piercing satire. Whatever may be, they come from inside my brain. They make up who I am, where I have been, etc. I think everything inside the artist comes out in their work! It can’t help but escape, and I suppose that’s the only thing which keeps them sane! When I paint, I am at my happiest, creating something new and beautiful or ugly. This must be art making at it’s very core.
Someone asked me why my portraits were so dark, so crazy looking. They wouldn’t be able to live with these paintings. I didn’t know how to react! They were commenting on my individual personality characteristics, my whole life, so to speak. I paint for myself, first of all, portraying an idea from deep within me. If that painting pleases someone, that’s good! Art is a personal thing for the patron as well as the artist.
What you see is something I made, from deep within my soul, my very psyche. Take some time to look and If you like it, thank you. But if you don’t, keep looking… that next piece might be the one to grab you and shake you to your knees...