This Artist’s Timelapse Videos Will Make You Want To Commission A Portrait

We sat down with Reece Chopping to discuss all things viral video meets classic art style

Reece Chopping is a portrait artist. And a very tech-savvy one at that. 

Today, we’re painting a portrait of him, as he takes us on a time lapse of his paintings, from his current fave to his future concepts, all with a side of tips and tricks and modern tech insight.

Portrait Will Smith
Will Smith by Reece Chopping

Cr: R.A. Chopping

Known to his fans as ‘R.A. Chopping’, Reece first caught our eye when we saw his monochrome portraits being made in live-action. Whilst the young artist has not (yet) a museum to house all of his works, he shares his art in a kind of live exhibition nevertheless. He shares his work on social media. And he does so using a very millennial medium: timelapse videos.

Reece Chopping
The young artist at work

Cr: R.A. Chopping

The 22-year-old art graduate hailing from Yorkshire (famed for its rhubarb amongst others) uses paint as opposed to pencil to create the portraits for his series entitled ‘Public Realm.’ We took the time to interview Reece, and spoke about his work, and the modern meshing of art and tech, which isn’t always so black and white. 

Monochrome Portraiture in the Age of Viral Videos: In Conversation with Reece Chopping

From the view of a portrait artist, could you tell us the difference between a portrait and a photograph?

To me, the ways of creating the image have no similarities… yet I don’t think there is any difference stylistically especially with today’s technology. There are painters that can create hyper-realistic paintings that look exactly like photos, and there are photographers that experiment with techniques on Photoshop that create images that look like abstract paintings. Both are just different tools that help to convey the artist’s thoughts and meaning.

You use time lapse videos to show your viewers the process behind your portraits. How did you come up with the idea? And do you think they add to the experience of your art?

Since graduating, I was trying to figure out where to take my art post university and how to get the public to interact more. I looked at the artists I follow on social media. I love the way that artists like Will Thompson and Barry Jazz Finnegan film their artworks.

A common factor I found with these artists was the subject matter. A lot of them paint celebrities. I realised to get interested in something, you need to be familiar with it to relate to it. It’s like when I used to play in a band. When you start out, you play covers to entice the audience with something recognisable for them to sing along to, and then you can introduce originals for them to get familiar with. I see art as the same thing; you interact with something much more if you can recognise it and you are familiar with the subject matter.

Do you consider your videos a part of your pieces? 

Videos have become an essential part of the artwork for me. In keeping with the current trends on social media I feel it is a necessity to offer different ways of viewing your artworks. Seeing someone creating something you feel so much more involved like you are seeing into their creative system even if it is through a screen. I chose to film my paintings in time-lapses as it lets the public see the whole process in a matter of minutes. It gives them hours of footage without getting bored (hopefully) or having to leave their room. 

“ I realised to get interested in something, you need to be familiar with it to relate to it. It’s like when I used to play in a band, when you start out, you play covers to entice the audience with something recognisable for them to sing along to, and then you can introduce originals for them to get familiar with”

What role does the internet play in our appreciation of art? Do you think it can deepen our understanding?

The internet can broaden your accessibility of artworks. It brings the whole world of images to your phone screen in a matter of seconds. But it is not the authentic image of the artwork – it has no authority in time or space, as it is merely pixels on a screen that you look at and scroll past thirty seconds later. It’s like listening to an old vinyl on a record player, compared to listening to it as an mp3. 

Johnny Depp Portrait
Johnny Depp

Cr: R.A. Chopping

The advantage is that the work of art can be disconnected from its previous uses and brought into new combinations by the reader. Think of memes as an example of this. Some memes take artistic images – such as a classic renaissance painting or a Roman sculpture – and recreate them endlessly, through different reconstructions.

“Think of memes as an example of this. Some memes take artistic images – such as a classic renaissance painting or a Roman sculpture – and recreate them endlessly, through different reconstructions.”

Memes is definitely an intriguing way to think of it! Back to you though. This may be a difficult question, but which is your favourite portrait?

My favourite artist at the minute is Christian Hook I would love to see his portrait of Sir Ian Mckellen in the flesh again. He explores time and motion to create broken images. He does this by using layers of transparent paint to blend the background and foreground together to create freshness and vitality. 

And is there anybody special you would like to paint one day?

I would love to successfully paint my fiancée one day, as I have never been able to create a painting of her that I am proud of. I think there is too much pressure painting someone that is so close to you. I know how great she looks but every time I paint her, I can’t capture her how I see her.

Do you have any tips for any aspiring artists out there? 

It always seems impossible until it’s done. Although Nelson Mandela did say that not me, I still use this mantra with anything creative or challenging I do. You need to keep trying until you succeed and if you don’t succeed, try again. You learn so much from failing and stepping out of your comfort zone.

“I would love to successfully paint my fiancée one day, as I have never been able to create a painting of her that I am proud of. I think there is too much pressure painting someone that is so close to you.”

And lastly, I have to ask. Who (dead or alive) would you like to paint a portrait of you? 

Either Christian Hook, just to watch how he creates his complex canvasses, or Lucien Freud as I studied how to paint by him back in College – endlessly recreating his portraits and emanating his style into my self-portraits. It would be fascinating to see a painting of me from the person I used to learn how to paint from.

Barack Obama Portrait
Barack Obama

Cr: R.A.Chopping

“You need to keep trying until you succeed and if you don’t succeed, try again. You learn so much from failing and stepping out of your comfort zone.”

Follow Reece Chopping on Facebook and Instagram, and never look at a portrait the same way again. 

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