Delbert Winston Culpepper Jr.1
|Father*||Delbert Winston Culpepper2 (15 Jul 1911 - 16 Sep 1993)|
|Mother*||Hazel Lewis2 (2 Nov 1915 - 18 Sep 1990)|
|Charts||Robert Culpepper Jr. of Lower Norfolk Co., VA: Descendant Chart|
|Last Edited||14 Oct 2012|
- Winston Culpepper Likes Being Creative
Mary Ellen Riddle, The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA, 17 Oct 1999
Winston Culpepper is celebrating his 58th birthday this month. A walk through the Kitty Hawk artist's home gives hints to his life thus far.
Odd-shaped canvases cover the living room ceiling. A curio cabinet displays his hand-painted eggs. License plates he's painted hang one below the other in the kitchen. His studio, which used to be his father's shed, has old work and new hanging side by side - stuff he's thinking about. Stuff he may paint on again.
Culpepper is comfortable in this space. He's comfortable within himself. He's learned that all time spent is creative. It's taken him a while to not feel guilty about simply piddling in the narrow studio. He's thinking. And piddling helps stir the creative juices.
At this point in life, Culpepper paints what he wants, when he wants. Subjects vary like the wind that frequents his deep red beach haven. Sometimes his paintings generate from his "fish mode." Florida fish appear on table tops. Nameless fish swim in schools across unprimed canvas. And popular gamefish decorate the license plates he does for enthusiastic anglers. "It's my nautical period, I guess," he said.
Other images painted in acrylics, he barely can explain. They are patterns that come to him. He stood once on a steel bridge in Virginia overlooking the James River grieving his mother's death. Staring up from below his feet were rivets resembling silver moons. They became her moons, Hazel's moons, immortalized on canvas with a delicate strip of the James framing them. Another time he spied a puff of jet exhaust funneling from a sky-high tail pipe passing behind a leafless tree. The vision became a painting, modeled softly, meticulously.
Viewers swear Culpepper uses an airbrush because his technique is so smooth. But he doesn't. "With an airbrush, you're detached," he said. He prefers the hands-on feel of brush on canvas, the weight of the paint and water in the fibers, the motion of moving pigment across the surface, of deciding how far to push the color until it bleeds into nothing. "I like the results I get," he said. "There's something magical about it."
Culpepper can take an industrial Richmond smoke stack and turn it into a symphony of funnel shapes using his delicate modeling technique. A view below a highway bypass turns into a double rainbow. The shapes' integrity remains, but they've been baptized with Culpepper 's emotional response.
Painting auras around his fish, his non-objective forms, Hazel's moons also enhancethe visual experiences. Like a halo above a cherub's curled locks, Culpepper 's auras beam from his forms. They are painted in hues that move back and forth across the spectrum. "You're always thinking of different colors and using colors in different ways," he said.
Contrary to Culpepper 's soft techniques is his meticulous rendering of repetitious shapes. His rigidly disciplined approach almost belies the spontaneous way the images float into his head.
"My paintings are so structured," he said. "They're almost mechanical. I do the repetitive thing until I almost get sick of it. Maybe it gives me a sense of security."
Culpepper supports his painting career by giving wildlife ecological safaris in Corolla. He drives visitors to the beach, into the dunes, to the sound searching for horses, plant life and wild boar.
"I still have energy for art," he said. And to Culpepper, working a day job beats painting what someone else wants him to paint. "I don't want the pressure of commissions," he said. He turned down an offer by Good Houskeeping Magazine to hand paint 300 eggs for presents for special customers and friends. "I knew after two or three of the same thing I'd end up hating them," he said.
An example of Culpepper 's work hangs in the Nags Head Town Hall. Beach brick is a surreal vision of a brick that gets caught in a breeze, is lifted from the sand, then joins a group of bricks that fly like a flock of pelicans across the horizon line.
It's both unique and joyful in itsplayfulness. But it's rendered so tightly, one gasps at the artist's ability to control form and color and still be left with a soft emotional response. That's the beauty and the mystery of Winston Culpepper.
"I keep questioning, am I a painter, am I an artist?" he said. "I keep doing it, so I must be."
Winston Culpepper, Kitty Hawk Artist, has an Eye for Eggshell Canvas
Mary Ellen Riddle, The Virginia Pilot, 11 Jun 1995
Winston Culpepper's relationship with eggs began naturally enough.
It was Easter time, and he painted a couple of eggs for his children, decorating them with intricately painted kachinas - Native American dolls.
Somebody suggested he sell them.
After that, ``I pretty much supported myself selling eggs,'' said Culpepper, who has a master in fine arts degree. He even traded eggs to help pay for much-needed cataract eye surgery.
Culpepper, 53, still paints eggs. His vision has been repaired, and he has expanded to painting coconuts, and tables, and walls, and cabinets. . .
Much of his Kitty Hawk home has been caressed by his brush. Handpainted tables are adorned with leaping dolphins. His eggs are displayed in an old trailer window-turned-showcase.
In a word, the eggs are beautiful. Culpepper has painted on duck eggs, ostrich eggs, rhea eggs and goose eggs.
``There is nothing more beautiful than an egg,'' said Culpepper, who has painted them for all occasions. His family probably has the largest collection of his eggs, and Culpepper himself inherited a couple of very special ones that he painted for his father for Father's Day and for his mother for Easter.
Culpepper has adorned eggs with stained glass designs, Hopi and Mayan patterns, geometric and Greek urn designs, oyster boats - whatever strikes his fancy. He uses watercolors, acrylics and oil paints to create intricate shapes, lay in varied colors and inscribe some of the more personal ones.
While Culpepper's technical skill is apparent in these mini works of art, one can get a clearer picture of his artistic vision from his canvas paintings.
``I get so tight with this kind of thing,'' Culpepper said of his eggs, ``and I can expand with the other.''
Paintings of varying sizes cover the walls of his bright red beach cottage that comes with a matching Volkswagen van in the drive. Many are abstract geometric works that reveal a glimpse of reality.
Much of the subject matter for Culpepper's oil and acrylic paintings comes from noticing visual patterns in the world. He's not sure about the inspiration for all the paintings, some being more subconscious products, but he appreciates the varied interpretations attached to the work by friends. In fact, he has adopted a few interpretations as fitting.
The origin of other paintings is clear.
One of his larger canvases shows a golden rectangle that appears to be floating over a crimson textural surface. The red is covered with a black honeycomb-like pattern. The idea for this piece came while Culpepper was playing with a translucent red candy wrapper with a gold foil center. He could see pea rock on the ground through the wrapper. The visual pattern was translated into paint.
On a smaller canvas, Culpepper painted a fish encircled by a thorn border. Painted on top of the fish are clouds, and under the thorns is stylized water, echoing the layered, or bird's-eye view of the latter painting.
Culpepper is a keen observer of the world around him. He got very excited one evening when he noticed two parallel bands of jet exhaust floating across the sky. He watched as the bands moved into the crook of a tree at the same time the moon appeared there. He stored this layered moment in time to later savor it in paint. Culpepper was left with an atmospheric memory rendered in smoothly blended evening hues.
A master at applying paint and achieving textures, Culpepper paints floating shapes that undulate and cast shadows. The interwoven and ambiguous movement of the shapes is reminiscent of M.C. Escher, the artist famous for working with visual illusion. His color and shadows give the work a Giorgio de Chirico atmosphere - lyrical and mysterious.
While Culpepper obviously appreciates the whimsy of illusion, his work is not as heady as Escher's, but rather is a purist's approach. These works are not filled with ego. They are humble and appreciative recordings by a man who sees things that most would overlook.
Culpepper reminds us that there is beauty in the mundane. It's just a matter of alignment.
If you are interested in Winston Culpepper's work, you may call the artist at 261-2842. His coconuts are sold at Mango's Tropical Boutique in Corolla.
- Correspondence from June Allen Culpepper Cotton (#38057), Portsmouth, VA, e-mail address to Lew Griffin and Warren Culpepper, 2000-2006.