The Thirty-A Review September 2020

l o c a l a r t i s t

Art and Texture b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

Justin Gaffrey

T here’s a clear love of dimension, whimsy, and texture that is as characteristic as a signature on the paintings bearing the name of Justin Gaffrey. One after another, his works show a unique perspective and a fantastic imagination—even on the most ordinary of subjects—often interweaving two worlds that otherwise have no relation. The result is something eye-catching and memorable; and for this tireless seeker of the next creative challenge, it is what has made him successful in the art world. An avid lover of all things creative, it was Gaffrey’s desire to be independent and work for himself that eventually led him to seriously delve into the world of painting in 2001. “I have always been creative, which drove me both in my previous career a chef as well as in making furniture,” he says. “In my early twenties, I knew I could not work for other people, so I had to figure out a way to be independent. Being an artist was a good way.” And while he may never have had formal training, his determination to learn and never stop learning has served him well over the past 20 years. “I have figured out various techniques and perfected processes by intense study and obsessive work habits,” says Gaffrey, whose 30-A studio is constantly in the midst of projects. “I believe in learning through evolution and a lot of trial and error. Surprisingly, the ratio of error keeps growing because I keep taking on harder challenges. Over the last year, I have been learning chemistry in order to create and manufacture my own line of heavy texture acrylic paints.”

subjects usually deal with human emotion,” Gaffrey says. “Over the years, my ideas of art have become completely different than when I started. I did not understand at the time how integrated art is in the expression of humanity, but now I have come to realize that art through history tells an amazing story about us.” For Gaffrey, the story is an ongoing one—not only about the paintings he creates, but the actual paint itself. Not one to use the off-the-shelf paints for his creations, Gaffrey manufactures his own heavy and medium body acrylics and will also officially launch Gaffrey Art Material later this summer. The line will feature his paint, colors, and tools as well as instructional techniques, supplying everything an artist needs for their work. It will begin exclusively as an e-commerce company with the hope of later expanding into other markets. All of the paint is produced in Santa Rosa Beach of pure acrylic, with no fillers, and is a unique formula that makes it of superior quality. And despite the fact that Gaffrey has branched out into manufacturing, he is ever the artist, always seeking ways to express the world he sees and feels in a way that is not easily forgotten. Justin Gaffrey Gallery is located at 21 Blue Gulf Drive, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32549. For more information, visit or call (850) 267-2022.

Those heavy texture acrylic paints are on full display throughout his pieces; most notably in his florals and seascapes, where textural play can be most appreciated. He uses those textures almost the way that color is used, sculpting them to make various features of his paintings pop, drawing the eye—and inevitably the hand—to alight on whatever he has chosen to accentuate. The swirls, the peaks, the valleys… All of them are created by the deft technique of Gaffrey’s tools as they move his paints in whatever direction his imagination has determined they must go, eventually becoming the vision that was once only held in his mind’s eye. Clearly, Gaffrey draws inspiration from the beautiful beaches he calls home. His many paintings of seascapes and waves testify to the many hours he’s spent watching the water and traversing the sand to explore the unique landscapes so characteristic of 30-A. Nature is at the heart of most of his pieces, regardless of the subject, as he puts his hand to work painting everything from moonscapes and flowers to birds’ nests and life stills. And despite the fact that such themes may seem overdone, Gaffrey’s take on them makes them fresh and unexpected—especially when he livens them up with dogs, rabbits, and even the occasional monkey. Whatever the subject captured in his acrylics, the emotion that spills from them is as rich as his colors and gives them a dimension far greater than the boards on which they rest. There’s turmoil and pain, happiness, and even enchantment—all held right there in the paint and frozen to be forever pondered. “My favorite painting

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