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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Penciling in the Possibilities

The philosophy of American songwriter and musician Jon Bon-Jovi is, "Map out your future, but do it in pencil!" Without a doubt, this is an attitude of maximum flexibility for growth and change in very unexpected ways. In the life and times of Cave Creek graphite artist Jack Schilder, he takes his penciled-in plans very seriously. Jack's detailed sketches have drawn the picture of an astonishingly successful career in illustration.

Born in Holland, Schilder's parents traveled extensively throughout the world, eventually settling in Africa, where the family lived until Jack was 13 years old when the family moved to the United States, taking up residence in New Jersey. Jack credits his parents and high school art instructor for recognizing and encouraging his drawing talents. He states. "I carried a sketch pad and a pencil everywhere for as long as I can remember. I focus on recording ideas, items, scenes, anything that may look like a story." Jack is gifted with an extraordinary eye for detail and an exceptional ability to create meticulously detailed lifelike images; all produced using graphite on paper. Through time Jack experimented with a variety of mediums however found the simple black, white, and gray tones of graphite where he felt most at home.

Jack and his wife decided to relocate to Arizona in 1988; they both needed a change in climate, lifestyle, and environment. The destination point was Scottsdale for its casual lifestyle and plenty of open space. Jack retired several years ago from a long career in design engineering; at that point, he devoted his energy full time to creating his art. "I identify as a self-taught artist, although I did graduate from an art institute when I was younger." The new creative direction prompted a move to Cave Creek, where the couple purchased their current home with space to build a separate studio at the back of their property, the perfect place for Jack to spend uninterrupted hours with his work.

"I carried a sketch pad and a pencil everywhere for as long as I can remember. I focus on recording ideas, items, scenes, anything that may look like a story."

Today, a large part of Jack Schilder's art is in Western culture; the stories of the Old West have become the storyboard for a large percentage of his work. A visit to Jack's website reveals meticulously rendered graphite images with titles such as Moonlight Dancer, Her Favorite Song, Almost Home, and Don't Look Back; all invite the viewer into the narrative unfolding in the light, shadows, and images of the work. You find yourself asking, "Just what is the story here?"

Jack is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and participates in the group's annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour each November. He is also a founding member, owner, and exhibitor at The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona. Jack says, "I enjoy the camaraderie of the other artists who share their work and inspirational ideas. Recently I considered a move into the realm of color by learning to paint." A workshop offered by another artist prompted this. Mapping out a future in pencil artist Jack Schilder has begun to test his talent for creating in an entirely new medium. He looks forward to expanding possibilities in his work.


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