Round about what is, lies a whole mysterious world of what might be – a psychological romance of possibilities and things that do not happen. – Paul Hastings
Since we first discovered the Dilworth Artisan Station, home to many of Charlotte’s artists, we’ve enjoyed meeting several of the artists including Marcy Gregg and Adrian Chu Redmond. This past weekend, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with artist Paul Hastings and talk with him about his art which includes pieces that he’s done for the Levine Children’s Hospital.
Paul Hastings is an oil painter and North Carolina native who has been creating vivid landscape and still life oil paintings for the past 16 years. His breathtaking landscapes are a product of frequent travels throughout the Southeast – stretching from the high country of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coastal lowlands and the Florida Everglades.
How would you describe your painting style?
It’s a combination of surrealism mixed with realism.
Out of all the subjects that you paint (which range from animals and landscapes, to ‘zanimals’ which subject do you enjoy painting the most?
I like to paint nature in general and I also like to combined things you wouldn’t expect. Out of all the subjects that I paint, birds and fish are my favorite.
Is there somewhere you like to go when you need inspiration?
I went to the Florida Keys for years, and I like the coasts of North and South Carolina along with the mountains of North Carolina. I take photos and notes when I travel, and when I visit the mountains I’m inspired by the waterfalls, lakes, the shapes of the mountain ranges and the clouds in the sky.
Is there an artist, living or dead that inspires you?
Caravaggio and Salvador Dali. I also enjoy the landscapes of the Spanish & Dutch painters and the cloud paintings by the Hudson River Group.
Many artists have specific reasons why they enjoy working with oils versus acrylics or other mediums. What do you enjoy most about working with oils?
I prefer oils for many reasons. You can get more out of oils and they can be luminescent and are more opaque that acrylics. They are also very forgiving. I can also add a glaze to my oil paintings.
During the May Open House, I really enjoyed seeing the surrealist paintings in your studio featuring goldfish flying in clouds. Tell me about the process that went into creating this piece.
This piece is commissioned piece for the AC Hotel in Uptown Charlotte. It will be hung outside their seafood restaurant, Clouds. I like how the piece feels like the goldfish are being set free, and they aren’t trapped (in a bowl of water) anymore.
As for the process… I painted the sky first, by mixing together 6 gradients of blue. Then I let it dry for a week, as oils take a long time to dry. Next I put in the clouds, using photographs I had, and painting them from dark to light. For the fish I used images from Google and textbooks to get an idea of the different shapes, sizes and colors. I would choose a color or two at time and scatter them throughout the fish in the painting to spread things out. Then I’d add shading of lights and darks and give the fish some personality in the process.
The clouds in the piece are so realistic. How were you able to bring this realism to the canvas?
I like to keep my clouds transparent with the sky coming through the clouds. This helps them to look more realistic.
When did you first move into the Dilworth Artisan Station?
Nine years ago in 2009. I was in a studio in NoDA before that. A friend found the studio, and as soon as she saw the space she called me up and said, “You’ve gotta come, it’s perfect.”
What do you enjoy most about working alongside your fellow artists?
The honest critiques. It’s always good to have someone look at a painting with fresh eyes. We also share photographs, and even tips on galleries, selling paintings and social media.
Do you work more with commissioned pieces more for hotels and hospitals or galleries and private clients?
I paint pieces mostly for hospitals like the Levine Children’s Hospital and hotels, but I also work with private clients.
What is the largest commissioned piece that you’ve ever created, and who was it for?
I created two 8 foot panels for my project with the Levine Children’s Hospital, Friendly Forest 1 & 2.
Tell me about the project you did for Levine Children’s Hospital.
Hospitals work with designers and agents who know what their vision is, and they go out and find the artist that will bring their vision to life. There were five artists who were interviewed for the project at Levine, and I was the one who got the job. They wanted something colorful that the kids could interact with and help distract them a little when they are headed off to chemo.
Paul is currently working on another project for Levine featuring birds that the children might commonly find in their own backyards.
What did you enjoy most about working on the project for Levine?
The more I worked on the project the more things I decided to add in (animals, colors, other areas of interest) and the reactions of the children when they saw the panels are priceless. Despite how sick they are, their faces light up when the nurse ask them, “Can you find the animals?” It’s enough to bring you to tears.
Paul continues to work with the children at Levine Children’s Hospital along with five other artists (including Adrian Chu Redmond). They go into the hospital for a couple of hours and paint with the children so that each child will having a painting for their room. The children always leave the room all smiles.
Thank you Paul for sharing with us about your work. You can visit Paul’s website here.