Art

 

By age ten, Chris began to explore his creative side as he dabbled in drawing. Soon, his impressive talents emerged and, even as a young boy, his artwork often led others to take notice. Forgoing formal art education, he instead developed his own personal style independently. After becoming incarcerated, Chris soon found his voice through his artwork, and imprinted his unique style into each of his creations. With limited access to the vast array of mediums most artists use, Chris has often improvised–even going so far as to use the dye from colored candies to achieve his desired effects. This gallery contains the remaining pieces of over sixteen years’ worth of his personal work.

 
 

Most prisoner artists start drawing in a style commonly called “whiplash”, which is a pressure-release technique using lines to shade dark to light. This style produces renderings that look amateurish. The portrait style Chris developed was self-taught, using a circular motion to apply the pencil or pen in layers. The marker drawings are dabs and strokes, sometimes scrubbed into the paper. Layering pen ink takes patience because each layer needs to dry before applying another. Layering markers is the opposite; to blend the colors second layers have to be applied before the first layer dries. It’s a go go go pace that Chris loves. Pen drawings take forever!
Most artists start out drawing with #2 pencils. It was no different for Chris, who began sketching raptors, race cars and werewolves in elementary school with a good ol’ #2.

One of the few good things to come from the two years he spent in the county jail awaiting trial was, believe it or not, boredom. To stave off boredom he drew. A LOT. With a stub of pencil shorter than a thumb. The ink pens sold on the canteen were erasable, so the ink gummed up and wasn’t good for drawing. Eventually he came into possession of decent writing pens (can’t disclose how…) and learned to draw with pens. The oil based pen drawings are more like paintings than drawings; his technique of applying the oil ink in layers leaves a quality sheen similar to oil paintings. It took nearly a decade to become accomplished in the oil based pen medium.

It was much harder to get drawing materials once Chris got to Parchman. Unit 32 Supermax Administration enacted a “no colors” policy in the 90s because of money order counterfeiting by artistic criminals. Pencils were outlawed, and the pens sold on canteen were just ink tubes encased in clear rubber called “security pens” or “flex pens”. Pens that were hard to write with were certainly not ideal for drawing.

Pencils and pens not sold on canteen had to be hidden. Prisoners who were caught with them were issued Rules Violation Reports. The mail inspectors were notorious for issuing RVR’s for pieces of mail they found containing color drawings or writing.

In 2010 the Supermax was shut down and Chris was transferred to Unit 29. Parchman canteen began sponsoring art contests with the Education Department and eventually started selling colored markers. This change negated the “no colors” policy for Ad Seg prisoners, making it legal to possess color pencils, pens, markers and mail out some really good artwork.

Sick of black and white drawings, Chris longed to be able to paint. Markers are the closest thing to paint he’ll likely ever get in Parchman, and he was appreciative.

Most marker drawings are crosshatch style or simple cartoon sketches; not his style. After a few months of scribbling, scrubbing out dozens of marker “paintings” he developed a technique of blending and layering that resembles painting in every aspect.

Inspiration comes and goes. Chris usually draws something for holidays and special occasions, though only for a few people. Most of his artwork is motivated by these family members, though often times a song, new drawing materials to play with, or a potentially epic drawing idea will kindle the fires of creation and he’ll sit his butt down and get serious with art.

He prefers to jam rock music while working. Countless works have been done on canteen days, with broken up Nutty Bars or several packs of cookies on hand to fuel animated sketching intermixed with pacing the cell, playing air guitar, eating more snacks and trying to avoid getting chocolate on the drawing.

process2
process
Fantasy art and the top artists in that genre like Luis Royo – that’s been the main influence in Chris’ experience as an artist. As a teenager and throughout his early twenties, he often drew from tattoo magazines, sometimes copying from other great artists, though usually just referencing for his own original works.

Drawing an image from your mind can be incredibly difficult even for the most talented of artists. Chris began as a “copycat” artist, sketching (not tracing) others’ works. The ability to draw from the mind developed after years of customers, in prison and in the free world, commissioned art that forced Chris to use his mind to be truly creative.

"In prison, art is therapeutic; the longer a drawing takes to complete - the more creative thinking involved - the greater the overall mental benefit." - C. Roy

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"Great art requires more than skill and your time. It requires your heart." - C. Roy

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"For me, the longer, more detailed, more headache-inducing a drawing is, the bigger the sense of accomplishment I experience." - C. Roy

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Get inspired! Read more about Chris' ongoing creative journey in the features below...

Christmas 2016

Chris was busy crafting Holiday cheer for friends, family, and even to decorate the prison. Check out the latest pieces in his growing collection here

Rise Tattoo Magazine

The September 2017 – Issue #47 of France’s Rise Tattoo Magazine features “a sensitive article on the condition of Chris Roy, a prisoner in high security in the United States…”

Art Feature

New Feature Coming Soon.

If you have a piece of Chris’ art not featured above, we would love to add it to his online gallery. Please contact us at [email protected]

 

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