“I have been creating art as long as I can remember,” said Whitfield. “I started painting seriously about 15 years ago, around the same time I started smoking cigars. I guess it was inevitable that the two passions collide.”
Whitfield began his journey by doodling as a budding youngster and has since evolved into a masterful painter of cigar art with original prints in the private collections of industry greats like Gary Griffith, Fred Rewey, George Rodriguez, Sam Leccia, Jon Huber, Scott de la Pena and Delicia, The Cigar Vixen.
Cigar-themed art is not all that Whitfield paints but it has been his main focus ever since he attended the 2013 International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Trade Show (IPCPR) in Las Vegas. His work received great praise and admiration by brand owners, shop owners and cigar smokers alike.
“I was lucky enough to attend IPCPR in Vegas with my art last year. I am determined to be the go-to guy for cigar art in the industry,” said Whitfield.
Whitfield’s paintings take on a life of their own. His masterful creations blissfully capture the idyllic life of cigar smokers and the fellowship surrounding the culture. His work is breathtaking and surreal. His attention to detail, extravagant use of color and boundless imagination are paramount.
“The smoking experience really marries well with the painting experience,” he said.
“My style is ‘Truth’. I set out with a general idea and just follow where it takes me. I trust the process,” he said. “The pieces tend to cross ‘styles’. I think some of it can probably be considered a loose form of impressionism.”
Whitfield’s paintings are not backed by heartfelt stories of woe or glitzy fairy tales of romance. However, each stroke and splatter speaks volumes through the power of individual expression and interpretation to create a unique story in each hand-crafted depiction of culture and fellowship.
With a brush in hand and a palette of paint on his side, the cigar is his muse. Whitfield always has a cigar burning in his studio and inspiration often arises from the cigar itself.
“Appreciating the art of the cigar itself is inspiring. First there is the coloring and construction, said Whitfield. “Then there is the freedom and the whimsy of the dancing smoke and the variety of flavors and sensations. How could I not be inspired?”
When not at work as a rehabilitation counselor in the criminal justice system or with his wife of 14 years, Jaclyn and their nine-year-old twins, Eric is holed up in his tiny studio where he pumps the airwaves with Led Zeppelin while smoking cigars and painting. His studio is messy and unorganized yet he feels most comfortable immersed in the clutter and cigar carcasses.
Whitfield’s ‘office’ is littered with a hodgepodge of paraphernalia from cigar bands to empty paint tubes to a dozen coffee cups covered in varying stages of mold and palettes covered in many layers of paint. The walls are covered in reference photos and paint splatter but they are hardly noticeable through the plumes of smoke fueling the CIGARtist’s creativity.
Picking a favorite painting is like asking a parent to pick his or her favorite child, but after a lot of thought and consideration, Whitfield was able to pinpoint several preferred choices.
“I really dig the “Clown Lady” with the big stogie,” he said. “It’s mysterious, sexy and thought provoking with a sense of humor. I also like the dramatic lighting of “The Roller.” I also really dig the “Rodrigo Project” I just finished.”
Please visit Eric Whitfield’s page where his prints are for sale. Original hand painted 16×20 canvas pieces are $350 and 16×20 prints are $45 and 20×24 prints sell for $55. An entire gallery of his work can be found here.