Home Sweet Home Portraits is your opportunity to commission artwork by Chicago-based artist Christopher Arndt. Known for his trademark photo-painting style – the creative combination of a photograph with digital oil-painting – Christopher transforms ordinary photographs into extraordinary digital paintings. His work continues to breathe new life into familiar landmarks of Chicago, Door County, WI and places in-between.
Growing up on the northwest side of Chicago, Christopher vividly remembers his first time taking a photograph. The year was 1978 and the event was the local Fourth of July parade. Strapping his mom’s Brownie camera around his neck, the family found a good spot along the parade route – and throughout the course of the day – Christopher took a series of black and white photographs.
That pivotal event was formative in Christopher’s interest in photography. Many years later another vivid moment occurred. Christopher loves to explore the beauty of the Door County peninsula in northern Wisconsin. With family roots tracing back generations, the peninsula holds a lifetime of cherished memories. The stunning beauty of the Peninsula’s orchard lined roads, quaint villages, and picturesque bluff shores is a photographers playground.
A favorite subject of his to photograph is the iconic Cana Island Lighthouse. Arriving in the pre-dawn hours on a warm summer’s morning, Christopher hiked to the opposite end of the island and began scouting for a new vantage point – as he had done many times before. Finding the ideal spot, he set up his gear, then patiently waited for the sun to rise.
During that peaceful time alone – with sounds of waves lapping onto shore and seagulls calling – Christopher began to ponder why he continued with his photography.
“Up until this time, I had taken dozens of photographs of this lighthouse on numerous occasions and they were filling up my hard drive back home. I was getting tired of taking pictures, uploading them to Facebook, getting ‘Likes’ from family and friends, then archiving the images away. I was done doing that. I wanted purpose. I wanted more people to enjoy what I was seeing through the camera lens.”
So began a new chapter in Christopher’s artistic career. If more people were to see his work, he needed to find a way to get in front of more people. The idea of retail sales interested Christopher, but with the proliferation of smartphones and their ever increasing quality cameras, people were becoming their own photographers and didn’t “need” to buy photography. Christopher needed something distinctive.
Years earlier, Christopher had experimented with combining his photography with digital oil painting. Energized with his new thirst and purpose, he began experimenting in earnest – trying a variety of options until he found just the right artistic look that was distinctively his.
Believing that his work looked best on canvas, he came up with the idea of stretching 5×7 canvas around little frames he created. These “canvas postcards” featured a dozen images from his Door County collection.
Christopher reminisces: “I was like, great – here I’ve spent all this time, energy, and money on this project – and not one single sale! Surely someone will see the possibilities and will take a risk.”
Discouraged, but not giving up, he continued his journey. Then it happened! He walked into Hideside Corner Store in Fish Creek, WI and was warmly greeted by the owner Mike Surges.
Expressing great interest, he invited his son Jim over for a look. “What other stores are selling these,” he asked? When Christopher replied, “no one” Jim replied, “well, our gain and their loss.” And so began the first sale for Christopher’s new venture – Door County Images. Since that day, Christopher has expanded to barnwood framed artwork, note cards, a coffee-table photo book, and an extensive selection of premium postcards available at distinguished shops throughout Door County.
With his newfound success in Door County, Christopher turned closer to home and began focusing on local landmarks – both in his hometown of Wheaton, IL, surrounding communities, and the City of Chicago. Christopher’s second venture was born – Christopher Arndt Images.
He has become a local celebrity of sorts with his rendition of The Little Popcorn Store and the creation of their popular Christmas ornament which feature his artwork of the store.
Christopher reached a new milestone when he began selling his “Landmarks of Chicago” series at the Chicago Architecture Foundation and I Love Chicago stores in Water Tower Place, Millennium Park, and O’Hare Airport.
With his portfolio of artwork expanding and reaching more people, Christopher began receiving requests to create custom imagery of their homes and pets. This latest chapter in Christopher’s adventures – Home Sweet Home Portraits – makes it possible for people to commission custom artwork of their house in Christopher’s signature style. Since 2013, Christopher has been commissioned to create custom masterpieces – ranging from homes to churches, retail store fronts, and pets.
After informally accepting commission requests for pet portraits during this time, Christopher formally began accepting requests in 2016 to create custom portraits of pets, including: dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, horses, birds and other favorite animals.
What started out with an outing to the local parade turned into a lifetime pursuit of capturing life and the beauty surrounding all of us. Little did Christopher know at the age of eight that his work would one day grace homes across America.
Christopher works out of his home studio in Wheaton, IL – home to Wheaton College, the Little Popcorn Store, and childhood home of the Belushi brothers. He and his lovely wife enjoy all that life offers and continue to enjoy the fruits of training their three energetic boys into men of valor.
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