John Chehak

Iowa, USA

Contemporary artist

An online reviewer wrote, “Native Iowan John Chehak is a masterful draftsman and painter. His wide expanse of expertise and style make his artwork a treat to explore.”  

John Chehak –  a mid-century style artist!

He has been described as a mid-century style artist, a cubist, a minimalist reminiscent of Braque and Picasso. John’s medium of choice is acrylic on paper and canvas using brush and palette knife.  In the past few years, his work has taken on a new and unique personality of vibrant colors, symmetry, and compelling presentation.  Chehak describes his many mesmerizing styles as having developed from the need to “un-trap himself” from an artistic routine in an effort to explore other expressive and imaginative opportunities.

At what age did you know you wanted to be an artist?

From a very young age, I knew I had an innate talent for and enjoyed drawing and painting. However, I took that gift for granted and pursued other professional interests.  It wasn’t until my late forties that I picked up another paint brush, acrylic paints, canvases, and archival papers.  I realized that I could call myself a professional artist when I had my first show and subsequent sales at a local gallery. That experience was truly encouraging.

What is the earliest artwork you did that you can remember?

I was around 9 or 10-years old and I remember taking a private art class during the summer.  We were using oil paint on canvas board and I distinctly recall painting a clown face. Today, every time I see something artsy about clown faces, I recall my scary result.

Which classical or contemporary artists have inspired you?

All artists inspire me to paint. Actually, it’s the diversity in art that is truly motivational. Beyond the technical aspects,whether you like the painting or not, I realize that art is very subjective: a variety of people really do see your painting differently. Some of my favorite artists include Bernard Buffet, Charles Klabunde, Edward Hopper, Wassily Kandinsky.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Contemporary and Fluid. Contemporary in the sense my paintings don’t look like art school “old masters”.  My colors are bold and bright and often monochromatic. Fluid in the sense that I try to augment existing or develop new original concepts and style.

When did you first sell an artwork? How did you feel?

I first sold a piece when I was just 12-years old. I was way too young to understand or feel anything emotionally.

What's your workstyle? Do you work on one piece at a time or work simultaneously on multiple pieces?

I don’t use an easel.  Because I frequently paint, using brushes, palette knives and the occasional finger, on archival watercolor paper, I am more comfortable using a 45 degree angled table. I use straight, undiluted acrylic paint. Painting larger canvases sometimes involves painting multiple pieces, such as, 10 – 18”x18” canvases for one scene.

How do you get the inspiration for a new piece?

My reflection series starts with a single line of black applied with a palette knife somewhere around the middle of the canvas. Subsequently, what goes up and what goes down is spontaneous. Being simply more observant of what is surrounding your physical environment can be inspirational.

Tell us a bit about your personal life ...

I did not go to college for art.  I received a degree in Pharmacy and practiced for 10-years. I continued with various areas of health care and recently retired. I have been doing about 10 juried art fairs each summer for the past six years.

Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art. –  Constantin Stanislavski

A few pieces from John Chehak’s gallery

Midday Sail

Urban Crowding Series

More about John Chehak

Shows & Exhibitions
  • EVANSTON, IL

  • MARION, IOWA ART FESTIVAL

  • HINSDALE, IL FINE ARTS FESTIVAL

  • HIGHLAND PARK, IL, PORT CLINTON FESTIVAL

  • POWDERHORN FESTIVAL, MINNEAPOLIS, MN

  • WINNETKA ILLINOIS ART IN THE VILLAGE

  • CHICAGO TRIBUNE ART FESTIVAL

  • CANTIGNY PARK WHEATON, ILLINOIS

  • GENEVA ILLINOIS ART FESTIVAL

  • WELLS STREET FESTIVAL CHICAGO ILLINOIS

  • ART IN THE PARK NORTHBROOK ILLINOIS

  • UPTOWN ART FAIR MINNEAPOLIS MN

  • PEORIA ILLINOIS FINE ART FAIR

  • ST CHARLES ILLINOIS FINE ART SHOW

  • ELMHURST ILLINOIS ART IN THE PARK

  • ART MARKET AT JORDAN CREEK DES MOINES

  • OMAHA NEBRASKA SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL

  • OCONOMOWOC WISCONSIN FESTIVAL OF ARTS

  • MADISON WISCONSIN ARTS FESTIVAL

  • GLENCOE, ILLINOIS ART FESTIVAL