Hugh Greer graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He worked over forty years in the architectural field in Wichita Kansas, where he still resides. Many of Hugh's paintings reflect his formal training as an architectural delineator, often incorporating various structures such as homes and/or barns etc. into his landscapes. He has a keen eye for composition and color and his landscapes are both nostalgic in their purity and realistic in their execution. Hugh is an artist who paints in a style that is easy for people of all ages to relate to and appreciate.
What does the landscape, as a subject, give you as an artist?
When I see a landscape that speaks to me, it becomes my opportunity to share it's beauty with others who will relate to it. Hopefully it will give the viewer something they can identify with in a pleasant and positive way.
Could you walk us through your process? What decisions are you making at each stage?
1.First the landscape has to contain elements that stir my imagination
2.Identify exactly what attracts me to it: light, composition, colors?
3.Check out the lights and darks (values)
4.Develop a sketch and lay out a perspective (horizon & vanishing points) to ensure a strong composition
What do you figure out beforehand and what do you respond to in the painting itself? Why?
I try to decide where I want the most emphasis (usually the center of interest) and whether to do that with line, color, light, etc. Sometimes as the painting progresses it develops its own personality and I just go with it.
How has your process changed over the years?
The actual process is the same, but because the products i.e. paper (supports), paint, and brushes continually change and improve, I have to also make adjustments to accommodate these changes.
When you're finished with a painting, how do you assess it? What questions do you ask yourself?
If something isn't quite right with the way I see it, I generally turn the painting upside-down, in a mirror and finally in low light and view it from that perspective. Usually the "problem" sticks out like a sore thumb. It could be the composition, center of interest, or a value problem. When it finally looks finished to me, I have to ask: have I created a painting that will be enjoyed enough by the viewer to buy it?
What do you need from your reference?
More than anything else, it must inspire me. Usually it is the way the light dances off a subject. I don't need a lot of detail or clutter. That only distracts from the overall theme.
What are you thinking through when you're composing a scene?
Line-work that leads the viewer to the center of interest. This can also be accompanied by light against darks, and/or color. Something that is high in chroma (brilliant color) will almost always cause a center of interest, but that alone will not make a strong composition.
How do you approach color? Do you use only local color or do you change the color to make a better painting? How?
Mostly I use local color, but I love to "bump" it (high chroma) up to make a more striking painting.
How important is drawing? Why?
Drawing is mainly important if you are trying to represent something the eye can recognize as accurate. What I am getting at is a building, for instance, needs to be represented with vertical walls, and an accurate perspective. Spatial relationships also need to be pleasing to the viewer. If the painting is pure fantasy, and I've seen some wonderful art that was fantasy, scratch the above.
What's the biggest challenge you see your students facing? What advice do you give them?
Many students try to add too much detail. They need to simplify their reference material, and a good understanding of perspective is essential. AND they need to focus on whatever the instructor is trying to teach them. After they get the basics, then they can do their own thing. . . with my blessing.