Christopher Mize

Mize began painting in oils in his childhood but his passion for creating art was sparked during a year of study abroad in Europe. Turning his back on a career in management, Mize now works in a 1,500 square foot studio located outside Richmond, Virginia in the rolling countryside.

Christopher Mize is a self-taught artist with a BA in Economics from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and an MBA from Augusta State University in Georgia.

“I have never spoken in a complex manner concerning my art. I am one of those individuals who does not believe that the power of complexity is greater than the power of simplicity. It is my aim to produce images of things I observe that hold my interest. In mixing, moving and applying the oil paint that is my chosen medium, I express something that goes beyond simple representation and move toward a new language of the image that is constructed in terms of color, form, and texture.”

Christopher Mize

Goochland Artist Focuses on Wine in His Art

Article taken from Richmond Times Dispatch


MAIDENS In one corner of his basement studio stands a $22,000 printer, state-of-the-art no less.

Nearby, sit empty wine bottles and a wine glass, stained red, amid the clutter only an artist would collect.

Original paintings and embellished giclees – prints from a digital source using inkjet printing – hang from the walls; paper prints sit here and there.

To artist Christopher Mize, this is heaven, his haven for something he loves.

“Believe me,” Mize says, “besides my wife and family and dogs, my art is all I care about.”

Mize lives in Goochland County with his wife, Marianne, children Caleb and Michelle and dogs Ginny and Gigi.

Mize specializes in heavily textured oil paintings that have wine bottles or wine accessories as their focal points. He has used California wines (Silver Oak, Cakebread Cellars) and Virginia wines, including his recently completed “Hokie Bird Red and White.” Musical instruments are incorporated in many of his paintings.

His work hangs in numerous Richmond galleries and restaurants and will be on display at next weekend’s Virginia Wine Expo. Some of his work is available in giclee reproductions, which look as though they are originals. His originals have sold for $300 to $4,000, his giclees from $200 to $900 and his paper prints from $25 to $35.

The surprising part about Mize, 42, is that he never took art lessons in high school or college. His concentration was music at J. R. Tucker High School and economics at Hampden-Sydney College.

“I was always drawing things, though,” he says. “After high school I left the music bit behind and eventually began focusing on learning how to paint. I studied economics during a year abroad in Europe, and it exposed me to the great museums and the masterpieces there.

“While I was at Hampden-Sydney I was exposed to art history for the first time and immediately began seeing a future enriched by art and specifically paintings. I saw the Impressionist work of Monet, Sisley and Manet and I said, ‘I think I can do that. I want to do that.’ I began reproducing paintings from my art books in my dorm room. . . . I began to not really be interested in anything else but my painting.

“I was destined to paint; that’s who I am.”

His style did not come about by accident.

“When you are self-taught, you are free to learn to paint in your own way,” Mize says. “I just see something I like, something I want to learn, an element of an artist’s work that I feel is important and I just get all of the books I can find on that artist and study what they have done. The bits and pieces I pick up have shaped and continue to shape the way I paint. When I think of all of the paintings I have studied in the 100-plus volumes I own – yes, those artists are my teachers.

“The method I use is [an] expressive one and not at all analytical and sterile. The paint is applied with very thick texture or ‘impasto,’ which is Italian for ‘to paste.’ I have been told that my paint surface looks like cake icing. I want to build up the surface of the painting to add elements of expression in each work.

“There are plenty of technically perfect, photo-realist painters out there, and I appreciate the time and skill they employ, but there is much more art and emotion in using the paint to create a new reality.”

Mize has painted with other mediums but always turned back to oils.

“I have always loved oil paint,” he says. “Since the first time I smelled it, watching my grandfather work on a little painting in his basement, I have felt it was the best substance to work with. The oils hold their texture and color and allow me to not only capture the appropriate line but add shape to the surface. I have tried working with watercolor and acrylic, but the oils are best for me to create my unique language on each canvas.”

Mize is making his mark with his originals, which he paints directly on canvas without the use of glazes, but his giclee treatment might prove to be his image maker. A giclee is a reproduction on canvas – using his new $22,000 printer. Mize heavily embellishes the print with his oil paints in a process he controls from start to finish, including painting the wrap-around sides.

“With the heavy impasto I employ on my original pieces and giclees, it takes a keen eye to tell which is which.”

Mize’s two “Make Mine Virginia Wine” originals, the second a continuation of the first, hang side-by-side and butted together – 30 inches by 80 inches total – in the Virginia Wine Marketing office in Richmond. Each is available as a giclee.

Their images are unmistakable, which is a goal for Mize with each of his paintings.

“I want people to look at it and say, ‘That must be a Mize.'”