IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation- F. Scott Hess


IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation
Darlene Campbell, Kenny Harris, F. Scott Hess, Ira Korman, Judy Nimtz, Sarah Perry, Robert Schultz & Peter Zokosky

July 7 – August 27, 2016
Opening Reception: July 7, 2016: 6 – 8 pm

Method: Degrees of Separation, the second of three IDENTITY exhibitions, highlights the art process with a special appreciation of historical methods within a voice of haptic ways of seeing. The featured artists come from various points of view—conceptually, pictorially, and aesthetically—yet collectively they share a deep dedication to creating artwork by way of a traditional method. In curator Eleana Del Rio’s words “Tradition by way of ‘method’ – stated loosely – is the exhibition’s topic.”

Artist interview #48: F. Scott Hess


1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
At various times in my career I’ve had some quite ridiculous studio spaces, like a flat in Vienna where I shared the hall toilet with the old lady next door, or small shacks at two different residences once I moved to Los Angeles. Now I paint in the garage, which seems quite spacious. I get studio envy easily because I’ve never put much effort into where I paint. I see some other artists with spectacular spaces and wish I had that, but have never found it necessary in the creation of my work. I think that is because when painting my head just goes into that image space, and I don’t pay any attention to my surroundings. The lighting has to be good, however I don’t require natural light, just bright and neither too cool or too warm. I also listen to music or books while I work. It is a good time to catch up with the classics of both.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
I don’t need motivation to get into the studio. I’ve been quite prolific over the course of my career. Painting is what I want to do to most, so there is no special effort required. When I was younger I painted from about 9AM into the night, but once I had kids I usually knocked-off at 6PM. Even though the kids are now grown I still stop at six unless I’m under a deadline or just really pushing to finish something.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?
Oil paint is the medium I am most at ease with. In college, and a couple of years after, I was just doing drawings and etchings, When I learned to paint (it took at least two years to do it adequately well) I loved the speed of application, the intense color, the variety of brush strokes, and the surface of the paint. I continue to do sketches and life drawing as important means of study, and I do finished drawings when someone asks me to take part in a drawing exhibition, but otherwise my energies are directed towards oil painting. Usually I work on only one piece at a time because I find that most efficient. In my Paternal Suit project I often had ten or more pieces going at once, and that slowed down progress on the whole series.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
Except for art related interests, I’m probably a very boring person. I’d rather be painting than socializing, going out to eat, or seeing a movie. I enjoy hanging out with fellow representational painters the most, as we all have a common interest that consumes us. I have enjoyed traveling with my family, preferring places where we can spend an extended amount of time, like five-weeks north of Rome, a couple of summers in a small village in Greece, or a year in Iran. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in museums all over the world, especially when I was younger, and still enjoy seeing great painting as much as anything out of the studio. My wife and I have always enjoyed hiking in nature, and take two or three long walks a week in our local Griffith Park.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
With all of our screen devices that cascade thousands of images before one’s eyeballs everyday, there isn’t a more traditional method of creation than that of applying colored mud to a woven surface and producing an image meant to be stared at for hours if not years. Mankind has been painting for 40,000 years, so I come from a long history of mud daubers.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Method- Degrees of Separation, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
Transfiguration grew out of a decision my wife made to have the giant rubber tree in our front yard cut down. She was sick of the continuous rain of brown leaves and a root system that invaded the whole neighborhood, but I saw the tree as the most beautiful thing on our property (it sure wasn’t the house). When it came down it felt like a violation ecologically, aesthetically, and personally. Of course, there are wonderful Freudian implications there as well, and so I painted an image with the two of us, a tree coming down behind the houses, and my arms out-stretched in Christ-like identification with its truncated form.

Studio Drama has two sides of the artist at work, the expressive and the critical. You need both of these to make art that is any good. You start in an inspired state, expressing a vision you have as best you can, fluidly and ‘in the zone,’ as they say. But this is a good way to churn out crap as well, so your inner critic has to step-in, take a look at what has been done, and say, “This shirt is the wrong color, that gal’s nose is off-center, this figure has big hands, and the whole composition has to move left three inches.” It is a back-and-forth collaboration between two diametrically opposed individuals. It sort of resembles the US Congress. I’m amazed I ever get anything done.