Painter, Actor, Designer, Technician, Scientist, Dreamer. These are just a few words to describe Samuel Canfield Chasan. You could also use M.P.S., B.A., World Record Holder, Renaissance Man, Chas-Beast, Chocolate Thunder, or simply “Dude”.
Samuel has been selling his artwork to anyone willing to purchase it since he was 16 years old. Now, at 31 he is really making a go of it, producing copious work in his dedicated art studio, located conveniently in his 2 bedroom apartment that he shares with his wonderful, adoring, and endlessly supportive girlfriend in Flatbush, NY.
In the summer of 2017, Samuel packed his things into his 1997 Toyota Camry gifted to him by his late grandmother and drove in a giant “U” around the country from Seattle to NY. Visiting friends, family, and national parks along the way, he passed through Portland, the giant Sequoias, San Francisco, the Salinas Valley, Monterrey, Yosemite, L.A., Joshua Tree, Lincoln National Park, Big Bend National Park, Austin, New Orleans, Asheville, Johnson City, Shenandoah National Park, and finally Washington D.C.
Now, Samuel is busy working to translate photographs from this trip into stunning artwork. As well as developing fun, and oftentimes wild pieces. A painter of nature, Samuel brings energy and vibrancy to his romantic and impressionist landscapes, at once straddling such different styles as Dali’s wild realities, Monet’s color and Van Gogh’s abstract brushwork, additionally inspired by modern street art styles when he needs a mental break.
Samuel works primarily with oils and acrylics, on canvas and wood. And he hopes to showcase the beauty of the natural world, convey wonder through imaginative imagery, and to have a general enough positive impact that helps the world become a better place.
With plenty of work ranging from clearly figurative to wildly abstract, there will always be something you can find that brings you joy in Samuel’s growing catalog.
You can find him on the weekends somewhere in the 5 boroughs with his art set up, willing to speak at length about any piece with an interested passer by. Most likely Prospect Park.
Hi Sam! You started your art career at a fairly young age. Was there someone in your family who encouraged you to pursue the arts?
Sam: My mom and dad were very encouraging with my artistic development from a young age. Basically, ever since I could hold a pencil I was fascinating friends, family, and teachers alike with my drawings. So in turn, nearly everyone who could do encourage me to pursue the arts.
How did you discover that this is your purpose? What did you want to become as a child?
Sam: I don’t know if I would call my artwork ‘my purpose’, haha. Yet I do derive a great deal of pleasure from creating art and sharing it with others. When I was younger I wanted to be a surgeon, and then a researcher, but realized they weren’t for me. Eventually, I realized I wanted to connect to a large audience, to drive positive change on a wide scale, however that may come to fruition. Recently, I realized that could be through my artwork. And I finally have what I need to pursue that goal.
You use different styles, as you say from Dali’s wild realities, Monet’s color and Van Gogh’s abstract brushwork…How would you describe to people what you do?
Sam: Honestly I have a really hard time describing my art to people because my content and styles and inspirations are wildly diverse. This results in pieces that are visually linked yet aesthetically quite different. I often surprise myself with how I do several different types of work back to back to back.
Sometimes I say I’m a romantic impressionist that specializes in landscapes, and sometimes I say I produce weird, fun, funky, brightwork. Ultimately, I’m still looking for a content category and style that will keep my work clearly defined from all others. As that is something it seems artists have to do to be consistently recognized. We will see when that happens.
What is a day of working like in your studio in Flatbush, NY.? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Sam: A day of working would see me tackle at least 2 or 3 pieces in a sitting, moving them from one stage to another, sometimes multiple stages depending on the media and style I’m working on for that piece. If it’s oils, I’ll often do just a single layer of warm or cool colors so that they can dry and I can do the opposite colors later without the paint mixing and turning it gray or brown. Whereas if I’m doing an abstract, or acrylic piece, I may do several layers in a single sitting since they dry so quickly, and I’m less concerned about ‘perfect’ color.
To get in the zone, I typically need at least 2 to 4 hours. So I have to make sure I have a decent window of time chunked out for art. I have a day job that pays the bills, so my painting is currently relegated to evenings and weekends. This means I have to keep the studio as clean as possible. In NY there’s not a ton of room, so I can’t have anything be inaccessible or obstruct me in any way while I’m working. So I’m always cleaning and organizing a little bit here and there. Once everything is easy to access, and I have lots of time to play, I feel like it’s quite easy to ‘get in the zone’. Oh, and coffee.
You work primarily with oils and acrylics, on canvas and wood. What is the most challenging work with these?
Sam: Oils don’t dry quickly while acrylics do. This is basically the crux of their benefits and drawbacks. I prefer oils because I like blending on the canvas and because I like building up transparent layers for richness and color, which is easier to do when the paint doesn’t dry immediately. For other, more pop-art like pieces, or ones I simply want to do fast, I use acrylics. I also use acrylics outdoors at the moment, because they are water-soluble. Regarding material, I like wood because it is sturdy, however, this can sometimes mean heavy. Wood can also warp. But canvases can warp too. Canvases take color better and are more predictable in the ways you apply the medium, but that also can be boring. Wood has fun bumps and creases and lines, but that can also make it difficult. Ultimately, I take Bob Ross’s advice and just go with the flow, enjoying the painting process as I do it. It’s supposed to be fun.
What are you currently working on?
Sam: I have a number of pieces I am currently working on: A 9 panel piece featuring my girlfriend lying in the grass; a bunch of landscapes of Prospect Park; a piece with a woman floating in the sky in front of a giant cloud, on a desert landscape, surrounded by red dots; a color vortex; a cloud vortex; a humanoid floating monster in front of wild clouds; a portrait of my girlfriend Cindy; a depiction of a Minneapolis housing development burning after recent protests; and a view of the Prospect Park lake at sunset.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Sam: When I was really young I was obsessed with sports and action heroes. Well, I still am, but back then this is almost all of what I drew – characters such as Goku and Vegeta from DBZ, X-Men like Wolverine and Gambit, and being from Seattle I would draw my favorite baseball players like Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez. When I got a little older and into painting, I was immediately inspired by painters like Dali, Van Gogh, Monet, Turner, and Beirstadt. And in college, I learned about modern art movements such as dada, Duscamp, performance, psychedelia, and street art. All throughout, my styles mimicked that which I was learning about. But ever since college I’ve been trying to figure out how to create the most mentally captivating work, something that has continually escaped me. It was only recently that I finally realized I could simply do what I like – which is landscapes, and weirdness – and eventually something will come out of it. So that’s what I’m doing now.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Sam: Most of them are on Instagram because that’s where I’m starting up — Christian Rex van Minnen, such incredibly weird and fleshy paintings; Agnes Grochulska, highly stylized portraits; Aaron Hazel, a painter I went to school with who is pumping out fantastic civil rights-oriented portraits; a Dean Christensen, a painter I worked with who does fantastically fun and weird pop art pieces; Julia S Powell, fantastic abstract landscape painter; Khari Turner, who’s stunning portraits combine abstract swirls, splatters and elements of hyperrealism to great effect; David Ambarzumjan, who has a stunning ‘brushstrokes in time’ series, and Joel Rea – who depicts climate change issues through stunning realistic depictions of altered realities. The quality of their work and commitment to production is incredible and inspires me daily.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Sam: One time when I was showing in Prospect Park a few people bicycled by, and one person yelled out ‘that’s fricken dope!!’. I was told that my murals in my frat house are part of the house lore. Someone else in the park stopped, and incredulously yelled at me ‘What are you doing here!? Why are you not in Paris?!’ And one of the first paintings I ever sold was to someone who was like, ‘I’m not sure how, but as soon as my wife saw that piece she knew she had to have it.’ I was 16 at the time and that made me feel famous.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Sam: Right now I’m posting daily, producing art constantly, getting out in public weekly, and persistently building lots of connections in the art world. I’m already a member of Bowery Union, have recently joined Frontrunner and The Underground Collective, two more art collectives in the NY area, and am pursuing various avenues of PR to build my following and engagement.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Sam: I have a YouTube channel @SamChasan where I post videos like explainers, time-lapses, and how-to’s. This is where you’ll see the coolest newest stuff such as some funny Bob Ross style landscape tutorials I’m currently working on. All shows were paused due to COVID and being in NYC, I’m still waiting on galleries to fully reopen.
What’s next on the horizon for Samuel?
Sam: More art, more posting, more promotions, more connections. I’m still trying to decide whether or not to accept an invitation to submit to the Brussels Art Fair in November. Otherwise, I will likely have a show somewhere soon as NYC reopens. Until then, catch me on the weekend somewhere in the city, selling my art out of my grandma cart.
To learn more about Sam and his work, please check: