JP “Happy” Kuhn (aka James Patrick Kuhn or The Happy Artist) has been bringing joy to countless people, children, and animals globally through his whimsical and colorful murals.
He started his art career in Washington D.C. in the mid 60’s. “Happy” Kuhn is recognized as a versatile contemporary artist, and has received kudos from such notables as; George Bush, Ted Kennedy and Arlo Guthrie. He gave a portrait to then Congressman Gerald Ford, that later hung in the Vice President’s office.
Lively and bright murals that “Happy” Kuhn has created can be found in children’s playrooms and hospitals, restaurants, and businesses. His work has been commissioned by; Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House, The Pet Club, Dunkin Donuts, St. Luke’s Hospital, The Jewish Mother Restaurant, and others!
“Happy” Kuhn is the father to eight children, many grandchildren, and one furry child. When Kuhn welcomed his seven-year-old Beagle into the family, he named him – “Oh My God”. Although “Happy” says that he doesn’t call him “God” to his face, and they communicate without words using a private canine code, such as the sound – “Ppppsssst!” Translation means, “Come let me love you with food and shelter.”
This past July 2012, Kuhn presented Animal Fair Media’s Wendy Diamond a memorable and beautiful portrait of Baby Hope and her handsome groom, Chilly, as a wedding gift at the Guinness World Record’s Most Expensive Pet Wedding in history!
Animal Fair Media was very happy to interview “The Happy Artist”.
AF: How did your name Happy happen?
JK: Our father’s art took us all the way to Mexico in 1949 – I was seven-years-old. My first name was James Patrick or ‘J.P.’ In Spanish ‘J’ is pronounced ‘HA’ and ‘P’ is pronounced ‘PAY,’ so I was called ‘HA-PAY’ by our Mexican playmates. Eventually I became ‘Happy’ and I’ve been Happy ever since.
AF: What inspired you to become an artist?
JK: Our father (Robert E. Kuhn 1917 – 2000) was an oil painting artist. His studio was in the kitchen during the cold winters in Michigan. He looked like he was having fun playing with all the bright colors. One day when he was out I put some paint on one of his paintings. First he was mad; then he laughed and patted my head. That was all it took to make me an artist, in1948.
AF: What is your dog’s name?
JK: My daughter, Happy Anne, began most sentences with; ‘O my god, guess what, or ‘O my god, guess who I saw today?’ She’s always excited, I knew she would love a puppy AND she did. Happy Anne was sick and asked me to take care of him until she felt better. Happy Anne left us with wonderful memories, and I’ve had her puppy since February 18, 2006. Hence the puppy’s name became ‘Oh My God.’
AF: If your dog was a famous artist, who would he be?
JK: Duh! Is there a more famous artist than ‘God’? Case closed.
AF: How does your dog inspire your art?
JK: He teaches me responsibility and patience; it’s like being with a sweet three-year-old all the time. And then there’s that beautiful 30 lb body that compels me to touch his fur or hair to see if I can feel the difference between ochre, raw sienna, burnt umber, white – sometimes in the sun his dark colors are warmer to the touch, than the white hair or fur. He knows the difference between ‘walk’ and ‘come’.‘Walk’ means he leads and ‘Come’ means I lead. When he leads I get to see new things & places that I would have otherwise missed. So I’ve increased my power of observation and compassion because of his lead. Now I understand that I’ll never understand, until I can smell what ‘God’ smells. Amen.
AF: How do you describe your work?
JK: Fine art that looks cartoony but ain’t. Our puppies are always three-years-old. We are always five-years-old, in our emotional bodies. I paint for the five-year-old in all of us. Dr. Seuss, Disney and other masters of mine knew this. When we become sophisticated we take on ‘high art’ neuroses. Murals can’t be put in the attic. Murals can only be painted over, and I don’t want my work (play) painted over. My client, the walls, the purpose of the room, color selection and theme is a benefit that easel painters don’t have. The relationship with all these elements provides the greatest opportunity for success. I get hugs from all my clients, who have since become friends. When I sign my murals ‘Happy The Artist’, the client is happy and Happy is happy; it’s a lot of fun.
When an artist like JP “Happy” Kuhn creates timeless murals that play to the five-year-old in all of us, we forever stay young and happy! Just saying his name makes you …
For more information on JP “Happy” Kuhn’s artwork visit: Happy the Artist