Kimmy-Koi Art
 

Biography of Edward Champigny

   
 

"The First Time I Drew a Fish"

“The first time I drew a fish, I just couldn’t get enough life without color.Ed's newest oil painting, "The Rest." I can’t remember being happier than just sitting next to my ponds, looking at a bunch of great big, eloquently colored, rhythmically flowing, sparkling in the sun, friendly koi. By luck or by mistake, I was commissioned to draw a picture of Kimmy, the model I work with today. She liked what she saw and I asked her if I could paint her with a fish. From that, “The Kiss” (Ed’s first painting in the Kimmy-Koi series) was born.”
—Ed Champigny

Born in the small town of Windsor, Connecticut in 1945, Edward, was one of six children his parents raised on truck patch farm. School was difficult for him being dyslexic at a time when the disability was not understood, but he did find great pride in his Fencing skills. He competed in various tournaments including those held at Duke University, John Hopkins and West Point.

Like many young men his age, his life changed in 1966, when Edward, then a member of the United States Army, was sent to Vietnam. He flew over 150 combat missions, was shot down three times and missing in action. He was awarded a 6th air medal with valor for saving 35 soldier’s lives during one of his missions.

Scared from the trauma of war, Edward returned home to the United States in 1968 and attempted to move on with his life. Over the next 27 years Ed was married twice and had careers that ranged from owning pet stores to working in heating and air conditioner repairs to selling and managing real estate. These years were haunted by the memories of Vietnam, clouded by the handfuls of drugs the United States government was giving him to deal with these memories, and characterized by the crippling setbacks his life took every time things were starting to go his way. “It would have been easier if I never came back,” Ed recalls about this time in his life. The birth of his daughter Janine, in 1976, made everything worth while.

1995 found his second marriage failing, his mother stricken with Alzheimer’s and the death of both his father and his brother Dave. The Veteran’s Administration intervened and hospitalized Ed. “I can remember back when all hope was lost, when I was in a VA hospital and finally gave up”, recalls Champigny. “It was my counselor’s opinion that I was too messed up to learn anything and I should just find a quiet place to spend the rest of my life. I told them that when I got out, I wanted to go back to school.”

While in VA hospital, a fellow veteran told Ed about a koi pond he had. Ed got a book about koi ponds and spoke to everyone who knew anything about them. Intrigued by their colors, Ed was determined to learn more about koi and some day have a pond of his own. “I have to say they are my therapy because the memories of Vietnam are not allowed in this place,” shares Ed while sitting next to the largest of his three ponds.

Upon his release from the hospital, Champigny persisted and eventually convinced the VA that school is where he should go. Edward attended Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). “My first course was with a teacher named Gail Dunn,” recalls Ed, “a red hot fire cracker blonde with deep blue eyes who made going to class feel like every day was Christmas at learning. She inspired me to learn and tried to help me figure out what I wanted to be now that I grew up. Susan Aldrich Wyzik taught me it was OK to begin again and my art teachers Edith Wiles and Peggy Corbeil inspired me to explore my artistic side.”

“The first time I drew a fish, I just couldn’t get enough life without color. I can’t remember being happier than just sitting next to my ponds, looking at a bunch of great big, eloquently colored, rhythmically flowing, sparkling in the sun, friendly koi. By luck or by mistake, I was commissioned to draw a picture of Kimmy, the model I work with today. She liked what she saw and I asked here if I could paint her with a fish. From that, “The Kiss” (Ed’s first painting in the Kimmy-Koi series) was born.”

Champigny’s painting created quite a stir on campus. Students would tap Ed on the shoulder and ask for a copy of the prints Ed had made. Even the Vice Principal at STCC hung a copy of “The Kiss” in his bathroom.

By the time Ed graduated form STCC he had made a lasting impression on the faculty and staff. Today prints of all four of his paintings adorn the wall of the library on campus. “If it wasn’t for a few special people believing me and suffering through my learning, I think I would have given up a long time ago.”

“I can remember telling Randy Lefever and Martha that I needed some special butterflies (koi) for each painting”. Now Champigny’s fourth painting, “The Liberty”, which features some of those butterfly koi, has been in art shows and Champigny’s amazement, has been generating demand for larger copies on canvas.

Edward’s life went into overdrive when Joe Burkehart invited Ed to accompany him on a trip to visit some koi breeders and their families in Japan. Ed brought copies of his prints to Japan “in hopes of finding a breeder that would like to share my dream of painting the human feeling of love with living art (koi) in the sweet Raphael style in classical form.”

“I had a chance to shake hands with Mr. Sakai, an owner of one of the largest koi producing facilities in the world. When I visited Mr. Kase of Koshiji Farm, he offered to send a fish for my next painting, “The Rest”.”

Edward is in demand as a speaker and an artist. He attends koi shows where people can see his selection of koi and samples of his artwork. The paintings are available as gift cards, prints and canvas replicas. Samples of his work can be found on www.koi-art.com

“I have seen over 20 koi farms and I believe that my paintings will have some of the most beautiful living art in the world with the love of their human caretakers shining through. My next adventure is to return to Japan for the harvest. This is when the koi are removed from the growing ponds”

“So the living art has helped me deal with the past, put excitement into today, and created a colorful dream for the future.”