STUDIO TOUR: PAINTER RICK HAMILTON

Artist Rick Hamilton is inspired by phrases and lyrics he hears over the course of a day. His studio walls are where he jots these little ideas down, which creates a rather fascinating experience during a studio visit. Kind of like a little peek inside his head, but also interior decorating in the form of poetry. I could just sit in a chair and stare for days. And he's right-every single phrase I read immediately conjured up a visual in my mind.

Rick is a laid back, fun, open, and friendly guy. And his work reflects that. Figurative and narrative with colorful accents and unexpected twists (like the human figures only have four fingers and the four legged creatures only have three) they transport you into an imaginative world that just ends up making you feel happy.

I was so glad to pop into his studio for a tour, to see him in action, and discuss the art world with him. Read below for a Q&A with Rick!

Describe your work in three words.

Unique, fun, revealing.

My style has grown organically through trial and error on my part. I feel my art is light-hearted even though some of the topics are on the heavy side. It is revealing about what is going on in my head. I use the word revealing as a description of the process too. I learn so much about myself with each piece I do.

Have you always been artistic? Did you grow up in a creative family? If so, how did this influence you and your work/path in life?

I have not always been artistic. I started painting in about 1998 at 30 years old. I don't feel that art played much of a role in my life. I have traveled a lot through Europe before I started painting. I find it funny that I was in the cities that held works of art that have influenced so much and didn't even know it at the time.

What kind of art did you first start making?

I started with painting flowers.

How has your artistic journey changed over the years? Especially being a father…

I have much more discipline now. I'm more confident in the choices I make in the studio. At the same time I do multiple things everyday that show me I still don't know what I'm doing. Having kids has made me prioritize things. I have a note on my studio wall listing things I will give up for my art and a list of things I will not give up. The only thing listed in the not giving up side are my kids.

You have some musical themes in your work. Are you inspired by a particular type of music? Almost seems like a Cuban feel in some of them, especially with the figures.

Music is very important to me. My work is often influenced by the type of music I listen to. When I listen to salsa, I often use Havana as a topic. One day I was listening to Ornette Coleman. I had a painting of three bakers in my studio and I painted over the cooks/bakers outfits and made them the Baker Trio jazz band.

I love all the little quotes written on your walls. You mentioned you’ll write things down like that that other people say, and then create a piece inspired by that. Is that how most of your pieces come about?

The notes that I write on my studio wall are very important to me. When I have conversations with people and hear something they say that makes me want to do a painting I will write that on my wall. I also do this with lines I hear in songs.

What is your favorite piece you’ve completed?

I think my favorite piece is called The King of a Pile of Shit. I was talking to a friend about all the things he was doing to maybe improve his life: yoga, meditation, and healthy eating. He said after all that at the end of the day he felt like a king of a pile of shit. I wrote that down and went home to paint it. It was a man wearing a crown and kind of slumped over in a stool.

Tell me about your space…how did it come about? I know you share this space with other artists. Do you find that you feed off of their creative energy?

I found my studio by answering a Craigslist ad. It is a shared space but usually I am there by myself. I do really like it when the other artists are working. I also love to have people visit my studio. My space fits me very well. It is very utilitarian. Sometimes loud and messy, it is built for working.

Do you ever get the equivalent of “writer’s block” for artists? If so, how do you push through it?

I very rarely get "writer's block". If I ever do, I find the best way through it is to work. Even just prepping panels or putting down a base color. If i ever need an idea for a painting I can just turn around and look at the notes i have written on my studio wall.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

I had a gallery owner call it expressionism so i have gone with that.

What is the best thing you’ve done for your artistic career?

The best thing I have done for my career is switching my operation from my house to this studio. It has improved my output and quality of my work.

Has being an artist in Maine influenced your work in any way?

I have a hard time seeing how being from Maine has influenced my art. I really love Maine and would want to be influenced by it but I just don't see it yet.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I do have some career and financial goals I would like to reach. I'm open to what comes around artistically. I'm working on a children's book and it will be interesting to see what comes from that. Aside from that I know that in 10 years I will be creating art and having conversations about it.

 

Thank you Rick!

Find Rick's work for sale here, and more information here.

STUDIO TOUR: PAINTER LYNDA LITCHFIELD

The first time I saw the cleverly painted clementine boxes at June Fitzpatrick's gallery in Portland, I had a feeling my path would cross someday with the artist behind them. Lynda's work is both playful and precise; the boxes in particular seem like such a ingenious way of creating your own substrate while being utilitarian, but what the viewer may not know is the minute differences between the boxes based on where in the world they come from, and the better construction of some versus others, and why Lynda chooses them and what they end up becoming.

Lynda's use of color, shapes, and lines transfers from boxes, to paper, to canvas, and I even spotted some encaustic work in her studio from years past. Her aesthetic remains steady with all of these different mediums, but also seems to transform and expand upon itself.

I was so thrilled to connect with Lynda and visit her in her home studio in a sweet little neighborhood in Cape Elizabeth. Read below for Lynda's Q&A and for more photos.

Describe your work in three words.

Intuitive mark making.

What kind of art did you first start making? Did you pursue art in college?

I have always made drawings. I started out making representational work but have been working abstractly for many years. I studied art and art history in college.

How has your artistic journey changed over the years? Especially adding kids to the mix...did you find that altered how you worked and what your work actually was?

I didn't show my work for many years when I was a single parent with a full time job as a graphic designer.

How long have you been in this studio space? How does it compare to other spaces you've been in? What do you love most about it?

I have been in this space for about 8 years. Before that I had several different studio spaces in downtown Portland. I repeatedly lost my studio space as those raw spaces were developed into high end business space. I decided to move my studio to my home, where I work in two adjoining light-filled rooms that you visited and photographed. While I sometimes miss having my studio in town, I like being able to stay connected to the work by having it close by to easily work into the night...and check in with the work first thing in the morning.

You have such a calming and simple, yet intricate and alive sense to your work, which is actually how I perceive your personality. Has this style always been so, or has it evolved over the years, and if so, how?

I don't think about my work as having a "style" so I can't speak to that. The way my work looks is a by product or a record of my process making it. For me, making art has always been about being engaged in the process.

I sometimes think about what I can leave out or get rid of, which is why I often paint out a lot.

I usually work in "series"-working on several pieces at a time so those tend to have a similiar look.

You mentioned you worked in encaustics a few years ago. How did you make the jump from encaustics to painting, and why?

After working in encaustic and oil for several years, I needed to return to drawing in a direct, more immediate way-working with acrylic paint and a brush, letting the path of the line occur intuitively and completing each in one "sitting", each drawing isolating a single response.

Your latest creations have been created using clementine boxes, which you had mentioned is how you are being recognized now (for better or worse you felt!). I loved how you knew the particulars about the different kids of boxes, based on where they originated. Can you talk about how this process started, the nuances to each box, and whether or not you will continue this into the future?

I always liked Clementine crates for their rough utilitarian quality and for varying patterns of ventilation holes on the bottom. I saved them for a long time, piling them up in the corner of my studio, not knowing what, if anything, I would do with them.

At the same time I had been looking for a way to hook my work more to everyday life in some way-to engage myself and others by using something other than paper, canvas or panel.

I picked up a crate, turned it around and hung it on the wall. I was attracted to the different dot patterns made by the ventilation holes, the big industrial staples and angled corners. I saw it as an engaging surface and form I wanted to paint on.

At this point, I think I have completed this series.

What is the best thing you've done for your career?

Hmmmm...As an artist, the best thing I have done is to be in contact with other artists and get their feedback. Being part of the art community that shows up to support other artists at openings and art events, looking at a lot of art (not just on Facebook!), and occasional studio visits and feedback from generous artists have all helped my work.

In terms of getting some exposure for my work, applying to Biennials at Portland Museum of Art and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, as well as other juried shows outside of Maine, has been helpful. Since jurors change for each Biennial it's a way to get the work in front of a variety of jurors who might not otherwise be aware of it.

What has been the most challenging part of being an artist?

It's always been hard to spend time on getting my work out in front of people...what I think of as the "business of art". I'd rather be working in the studio.

How has Maine influenced your work?

It's important for me to live in a place where I can be connected to the natural world.

The light, the fog, the changing colors of the horizon line of the ocean are all subtle influences.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Making art.

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Thank you Lynda! Find more about Lynda and her work on her website here.