"Virginia's Wine Artist," Christopher Mize '89, presented one of his works, "Hampden-Sydney Red and White #1," to the College on February 15. Mize is a self-taught artist who left his career in management to focus full-time on painting. Working in his Goochland County studio, he creates a variety of still life settings using wine bottles, glasses, and, often, musical instruments.
"My wife's family owns restaurants in Richmond and she taught me a lot about wine, so I started painting wine bottles and glasses," explains Mize when asked why he paints wine. "The restaurant's wine distributor heard about my work and connected me with the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, and it grew from there. Also, painting wine allows me to paint still lifes, which I'm known for, as well as vineyard scenes, café scenes, a wide variety of subjects."
Though Mize had enjoyed arts as a child, it was not until he studied abroad in college that he developed a strong appreciation for painting. Using photographs of the works of Monet, Sisley, and Manet as his guide, Mize learned to paint with the technique called impasto-adding thick layers of paint to create a texture like cake icing.
"I have wanted to give back something to the school, so contributing one of my paintings is very exciting," says Mize, who is the twin brother of David Mize '89. "I developed my love of painting at Hampden-Sydney, and I learned a lot from Professor David Lewis. Knowing that my artwork is here means I don't have to leave behind all of the fun I had in college."
He told students in Professor Lewis' class that painting gives him the satisfaction his life was missing: "I have an MBA. I worked for a pharmaceutical company for eight years. I climbed the corporate ladder and was making the six-figure income, but I wasn't happy. I had to get back to painting to find that happiness. I don't know any other job I could have where I could work 16 hours straight and love every minute of it."
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of reproductions of "Hampden-Sydney Red and White #1" will be donated to the College. They are available at www.christophermize.com.