A native of the southern Appalachian mountains, Jeff paints from his studio at the foot of Pine Mountain in eastern Kentucky. His sensitive portraits and images are highly regarded in the region and have been distributed by galleries in New York City, Cincinnati Ohio, and Abingdon Virginia.
Sharman Chapman-Crane, Jeff's wife, is also an artist. Evan is their son. Together they manage the Valley of the Winds Art Gallery in Eolia, Kentucky, where their current work is displayed. You may contact them by E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the third book that Jeff has illustrated. The first, Ragsale, won national recognition for its artistry and its child's-eye portrayal of Appalachian culture.
When Dick Austin showed him Cranston Stroup's poetry, Jeff responded to its vital, beautiful spirit. He agreed to undertake illustrations for a book that might itself become a work of art.
In the spring of 1998, with assistance from the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion, Jeff and his family visited southern California sites where Cranston worked and wrote. There he sketched and photographed flowers mentioned in Cranston's poetry - some in settings that Cranston himself would have frequented seventy years previously.
During the three years that he painted for Give God a Flower, Jeff deepened his meditation upon these poems. Many of the resulting watercolors emerge from Cranston's own spirit, drawing vitality from the poetry while summoning the poems themselves to new life. The book is not simply illustrated. It is illuminated.
There were others who also caught Cranston Stroup's spirit - along with Dick and Jeff's excitement - as they joined with uncommon dedication to produce this book. David McFarlane of McGrafX in Bristol Virginia, an experienced second-generation printer, had assisted with previous Creekside Press books. Yet for David this particular book became a labor of love as he prepared the color images for printing and guided the book toward publication with an experienced hand. David has clients throughout the United States, so when you need a printer both skilled and wise, contact David McFarlane at McGrafx@CharterTN.net.
Over five years, Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press in Monterey Kentucky, one of America's foremost letterpress printers, has contributed to the design of Give God a Flower. Gray and his associate, Leslie Shane, set type for each word by hand. Gray then hand-fed each sheet (already bearing their color images) through his iron printing press to produce the deep impressions rarely seen today. Such printing is also a work of art. Gray Zeitz can be reached at 340 Sawdridge Creek West, Monterey KY 40359.
David McFarlane searched for months to find an expert bookbinder who could achieve high quality sewn binding - with images, cloth, and gold stamping - for a limited edition. Zonne Bookbinders in Chicago, specialists in small editions, have done stunning work. The eye of the curious will be drawn to the book, then led inside.
All these joined their craftsmanship and their artistic sensibilities to publish a book that is, indeed, a work of art. Cranston Stroup once wrote, "Words may rejoice!" Now his words do so again.