Topher Essex

Topher Essex

About THE ARTIST

“Painting is not something I can just do on a weekend. When I create something, it’s fulfilling a need I have.” – Topher
            The famous lyric from the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger proclaims that “You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”  The life journey of Topher Essex mirrors this statement with great similarity.  Twenty years of chasing the American dream of healthy finances, a successful business, and a house with a white picket fence left Topher empty and void.  It was at one of those rock bottom places that life brings us to that Topher who found inspiration and his true calling for his second chapter.  He found what he needed.  He needed art.  He needed it every day. 
            Topher was born and raised in Southern California with an eye towards the world of art at an early age.  His love of artistic expression was cultivated through his strong relationship with his grandmother.  He sat for hours upon hours watching his prolific grandmother paint with beautiful strokes as she made the world around her come to life on canvas.  She painted hundreds of times.  Her passion and zeal for art inspired Topher’s love of the visual arts. 
            After graduating from high school, Topher pursued his passion of artistic expression through photography by taking classes at local junior colleges.  His knowledge and experience grew through the training he received in photography, mixed media and painting.  Photography started as a simple hobby but soon blossomed in to a small business. 
Topher moved to the Pacific Northwest in his early twenties and started a business to make a living while also running his own photo studio.  Freelance photography kept him busy during any spare time.  An extensive traveler, Topher once shot 125 rolls of film, in three weeks as he traveled 2,500 miles throughout the beautiful tundra of Alaska.  He was in the stock photography business for a while, traveling throughout the United States to capture anything and everything with his lens. 
But soon life came to a crashing halt.  That selfish pursuit of money, greed and status, of searching for all of the things he thought would make him happy failed.  Through addictions to drugs and alcohol, Topher lost everything: his business, his family, his accumulated wealth.  He hit rock bottom.  Exactly where he needed to be to realize that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you can get what you need.  One day while sitting all by himself, alone and afraid of the future, he was unpacking a box.  And then he found it . . . .
A simple painting.  Just a simple sketch of his grandmother’s.  It wasn’t even finished.  But it inspired him to pursue his first real passion in life: paint on canvas.  His grandmother, although having passed away four years prior to this, left him this gift to reorganize and reprioritize his life.
He immediately dove in to art that day.  Topher got his hands on every book, every video necessarily to help direct his steps as an artist.  He became engulfed in everything from art history to putting paint on canvas, and has never looked back. And so ever since that groundbreaking life moment, Topher has been a plein-air artist whose illustrious career has spanned the last twenty five years.  He has won multiple awards and has sold to collectors in the United States and abroad.  Even among this success, he finds great joy in being able to simply give away a piece of art at a street faire to an adoring fan.
One art critic has described Topher’s work as “Like watching the result of a fight between color, nature and the artist. It is very intense.  I want more.”  Topher specializes in landscape work.  He loves the beautiful land that we inhabit, and does a great job bringing those scenes to life.  The beauty in nature has inspired hundreds paintings in just the last six years alone.  His pure bright and bold colors express many attributes of nature.  He gets bold brush strokes by using large brushes which he feels gives him freedom to express the urgency of what he sees in nature.
Topher explains his passion for painting nature: “When you are watching a sunset, if you close your eyes for just a minute and a half, so much has changed when you open your eyes back up.  Being able to express that moment when you are painting a scene is what the process is all about, it’s what I love about the process.  At the end, whatever is left at the end of the process, I want to have the best product ever created.  Not the quality of the shape of the form.  I want to have the best paint, the best canvases, the best of everything, so that when it is done, it will last.  When someone buys art they are getting the best possible deal.  The product can last for generations.  What I receive in exchange for a painting will be gone soon; I will spend that money on gas, food, supplies, etc.  That painting can last generations. This is exactly why every time I set down to paint, I want it to be the very best painting I have ever done.”
Topher’s major influences are the early French impressionists such as Claude Monet, Eduard Manet, Camille Pissarro, as well as, Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne.  He feels a close connection to those men who painted drastically different from anyone else during their time.  Topher is influenced by them because they were true to themselves.  They had a visceral need to express themselves no matter what the culture around them thought of their art.  They painted what they painted and how they painted it because they couldn’t live without doing it that way. It wasn’t the money, the fame, the galleries that drew them to art. 
            As human beings we have instincts to procreate, to eat, to survive. Topher’s need is to paint.   He feels a strong need to paint, to put his thoughts and observations to canvas.  Two things bring Topher the greatest feelings in life: when he is in the middle of nowhere, just painting what he sees along the way, and when he is helping others who have struggled with drug and alcohol addictions.
            Topher has found that in life you can’t always get what you want or at least what you think you want.  But you can get what you need.  And for Topher Essex, this need is art.  This need is paint. It is sitting in the middle of nowhere, to bring to life a scene that might otherwise go ignored, in hopes of bringing a little bit of that happiness to a living room or office place for generations to come.
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