Saturday, August 31, 2019

New Directions

“Shadows and hope” Oil on canvas, by Hilary J. England, 2019, 36” x 48”

Falling into things

Sometimes, we just "fall" into things, like happy accidents.  Sometimes, we fall into things and it's not quite a happy situation, but something good can come from it.  Either of these circumstances can be a blessing, even if one is in disguise.

This is what occurred when I painted "Ghosts and recollections."  I was geared up to have the piece, created solely for a show with a theme of artwork that tells a story -- anything imaginative -- and realistic, viola, imaginative realism.

This was a genre I had long avoided.  I like artwork based in reality -- something that the viewer could relate to, and build a bridge of connection with.  Imaginative realism conjured ideas of campy unicorns and black velvet space scenes (cue the shuddering) -- nope.  Not for me.  So, when I had a nagging voice in the back of my psyche -- call it the Muse -- who urged me to do it, to stretch myself, to put my biases aside and step into the idea.  I decided I could do this, and create a series of three interconnected, inter-related works, each a standalone work, with its own story to tell, a sort of beginning, middle, and end work.  

It took a few weeks of mulling it, sketching things, writing out ideas, snipping little "samples of colors" and references shapes and figures, putting them all together into little thumbnails.  I finally created an image in my mind of what I was looking to convey, and the work began in earnest.  But, there was a side-effect to it all: I had to pull upon memories that were very painful and long ago put away- carefully filed into cabinet number 2410 in the cobwebbed recesses of my mind's archives.  This was not pleasant.


Even though it was not pleasant, it WAS inspiring.  I certainly won't say it was cathartic because it wasn't.  Sorry, not for me.  That old carp from the shrink's couch of talking or writing out your problems and blah blah blah never did a thing for me.  I prefer to leave things in the dust of the past and move on.  That's just my way -- you have your way, I have mine, we all move to the beat of different drums, so to speak.  Anyway, getting back to what it did -- it opened up a floodgate of creativity.  I was eagerly looking forward to creating a nontraditional triptych (three) and began the work.  

After completion of that initial work, I found that I and the artwork had been pre-emptively cut from the show.  I was, to put it mildly, infuriated.  No other word for it.

After a few days of getting calm and finding my center again, I decided that despite the exhibition show organizers apparently AWFUL taste in cutting my work ;-) , I would continue through with the original idea, and even if the works never saw a show, I would do it because the Muse in me demanded it.  Plain and simple.

A star is born!

So, here is the second piece of the three.  It's called "Shadows and hope."  The piece continues along the vein of my own life experiences, of loss, of pain, loneliness, confusion, regrets.  But, always, always, always, there is matter what.  It's there, small, delicate, and yet, so powerful.  It's waiting always, to fill you back up and give you strength.  

I won't go into the particular elements of the painting (I do that in my personal journals -- y'all will just have to wait 100 years until after I'm dead and some blue-haired professor is adding their own embellishments and slants in some class somewhere).  I allow the viewers to experience the painting from their own perspective, to identify with elements in the painting within their own experiences and heart.  

Or, maybe they just like it for unknown reasons. It just speaks to them.  It just "clicks" -- like a cute person in the coffee shop.  

No matter why you may like it, or adore it, or hate it, it will be personal to you, as the story behind it is personal to me.  Don't expect a long-winded dissertation of verbal silliness -- I don't do artwork statement pieces like that.  

And in the end:

I decided I will continue on with additional pieces outside the original three.  How many, I don't know.  Is this the official announcement of a move into a different direction -- I don't know that either.  I've never been very fond of making announcements etc.  I don't like hard and fast rules to stick to when it comes to the direction of my work.  Let's just say I am going to begin a series of these more imaginative realist paintings, and see where they take me.  I have an idea for the series, and yes, maybe they will help me put my own ghosts and recollections in order too.  I guess you never really know!

I will blog a post for each of the works, and the overarching theme, when the three are fully created, and for other plans regarding the series too.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Painting Size scales

"Ghosts and Recollections" oil on canvas, 36" x 48"

"Red rocks and the female figure" oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

"Old barn wood and the female figure" oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Hello friends! 

I had a few people ask me different sizes and scales for various paintings so I decided I would post of the photos showing scale and size, so it would better help you gauge the artwork for your space.

Now keep in mind, these are the original artworks (digital prints can be made to any size or framing specification available on the website).  Also, I have a very cool feature on my website that allows you to see the original artwork, to exact scale, either in an augmented reality room you construct (featured right there on the page that you can play around with and it's actually fun), or if you are on a mobile, like a tablet or phone, you can actually project the scale artwork onto your own space, so you can see what it would look like right there and then -- no guessing if the piece will work on your wall and in your space! That's always a huge concern, and the new augmented reality function on my website eliminates it.  Now you can see what it will look like and not wonder and be uncomfortable hoping it will look as you hoped :-) All gone! I love technology! :-)

So, if you stop by my website at , you can view the different original artworks and employ the augmented reality (AR) function to see how any of the paintings look on your wall - like going into a dressing room! <3


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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Study of red rocks and female nude

"Study of red rocks and female nude" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

Here I did a study of the beautiful red rocks and the female figure.  I wanted to keep the figure, again, as not the dominant element in the picture.  This female figure was very taught, and I wanted to paint this as the angle of the body was extremely challenging, from the head to her toes.

This was recreated from several reference photos and not onsite.  I could never have a person hold a pose like that, and the rock formations are not native to my area -- more southwest.

I enjoy studying light, and anything with a lot of lines and directionality always draws me in.  That must be the compulsive part of my personality -- I like lines and textures, particularly elements that convey hard edges.  I love playing with hard lines and soft edges.  It's just my thing I guess.


Friday, August 23, 2019

New works

Untitled/ in progress - oil on canvas, 36" x 38" b

After graduating with my Master's at the beginning of August, I decided to take a few weeks and just breathe.  It was really a long haul, so much more than I realized, and getting adjusted to life after school took a little time.  I had to be able to adjust to not having constant research deadlines hanging over my head, and planning everything in my life around that.  It was like a phantom pain for a few weeks -- I would wake up and for a moment feel a sting of panic -- did I miss my deadline? Then I would slowly relax and think, "Nope."  A sigh of relief!

I started working on this new painting.  It is as of yet untitled.  I am still working in the genre of Imaginative realism.  This painting is also a self-portrait of sorts.  It symbolizes my inner self, and the struggles I have dealt with in this life, with pain and tragedy, loss, regret, and the strength to overcome.

I was not in my studio these last few weeks at Wagon Works, because it was just so dang hot.  I can't do that kind of heat, where I'm sitting at the easel, and I feel like I'm in a sauna.  I love my studio there but there are few drawbacks, and one is that there are no proper heating or ventilation systems, as the building is being restored, so in the intense heat or cold, it's just not manageable.  So, I worked in my home studio, even though that's not much better, because my A/C, as expensive as it was, is a hunk of junk.  Infuriating to waste money like that -- but there it is.  I'll have to buy ANOTHER system next spring, again.

I'm looking forward to the cooler weather -- the fall, and pumpkins (NOT pumpkin "spice" haha- though I do enjoy pumpkin pie), crisp weather and colorful trees.  Wearing sweaters and boots, and smelling the morning air tinged with mystery and damp leaves.  My schedule is starting to calm down a bit, and for that, I'm thankful too.

Then, in November, comes Egypt.  I go to Egypt, not Egypt coming to me ;-) .  I'm looking forward to exploring Egypt and its wonders -- the Pyramids, Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Hurghada and the Red Sea...taking a felucca down the Nile.  All in time to mark the half-century I've wandered this earth -- sometimes with a purpose, sometimes like a leaf on the stream -- but, by God's grace -- still blessed to be around.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Portrait of Joey

"Portrait of Joey" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 12" x 16" 2019

Portraits and life

I started working on portraits again.  I had taken a couple of months hiatus, after returning from Israel, as I had other projects that were really demanding, one being wrapping up my Master's degree, last week.

I love doing portraits, as it is always a challenge, but more, I feel like I get to know a person's spirit and soul while I am doing them.  This is especially true if a person has passed on -- and there is no physicality in this earthly plane anymore, to reference.  When a living portrait is created, I can reference the sitter, see their body language, the energy they give off, what their eyes tell me.  When I do a posthumous painting, I must pour over photos, listen to stories from their loved ones, and from those different elements, try to glean their essence -- what they were like while they were alive -- how can I capture their "likeness" in the portrait.

Defining a Portrait

A portrait is so much more than trying to copy a photograph.  You can copy a photograph down to it's last grainy pore, and not "capture" the person's true likeness.  Likeness comes when you can capture the persons' essence and spirit that emanates from their being-- in the present, or in the past, while they were alive.  When a person who loved them says to me -- "wow -- I can feel the happiness of their smile" -- or "you really captured their expression" -- then I know the artwork was a success-- it will "live" in the recipient's life, much more than just on their wall.

I have a Mom who tells me the portrait of her sons who both passed on gives her immense comfort, more so than any photo.  She "feels" them with her when she sits near their portrait in her living room.  This brings me joy to know it brings her comfort.  I feel my task was completed as an Artist when I hear her relay this to me.

And so, more will be on the way in the next few months now that my life is my own again! :-)

Stormy Times

“Stormy day in the fields - Tennessee” oil on wooden panel, 18” x 18” by Hilary J. England I painted an original study when I was in Tenness...