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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Aldro T. Hibbard

Aldro Thompson Hibbard

Aldro Thompson Hibbard just may be America's greatest snow painter...if not the greatest, certainly one of the very best. His style is very distinctive and easily recognizable. Many artists have been influenced by his work, including Emile Gruppe, Paul Strisik, and Tom Nicholas. This influence is most easily seen in the work of Gruppe.
Hibbard was born in 1886 in Falmouth, MA and was a longtime, beloved resident of Rockport, MA until his death in 1972.

Log Team, Vermont  -  40"x 50"  -  Oil

A Winter Stream  -  24.25"x 30.25"  -  Oil

I've been a fan of his work for some time. I'm drawn to his strong, clear compositions. Mainly however, it's that incredible feeling of absolute confidence, boldness, and passion that is so evident in every brushstroke that I find so appealing. There is nothing wishy-washy about Aldro Hibbard's paintings...nor in his personal life either, I suspect..
I found an interesting interview in my extensive art files that Hibbard had with American Artist magazine back in June 1940. Here are some of his comments. The questions are mine and I also changed his answers to the first person and tidied them up a bit.

Ice Pond  -  30.5"x 36.12"  -  Oil

West River, Vermont  -  40.12"x 50"  -  Oil

What is your working procedure?
Having previously visited the spot and composed the picture mentally and memorized the impression it made on me as well as possible, I set up the easel... and during the first day make a layout on a large canvas. This is painted very thinly with plenty of turpentine, almost a watercolor technique with colors that approximate the probable final scheme.
If the desired effect is a fleeting one - it usually is - and I cannot hope to paint it directly on the large canvas, I have several small canvases ready for very rapid sketches when the sun reaches its appointed place. I may make several such sketches at different times before I'm ready to finish the large canvas. This may be done in the studio, though my general practice is to complete the pictures on the spot.
Often, I'll paint on a picture outdoors all day, spending the morning and midday on layout or underlay and waiting for the late afternoon to make the final color adjustments. Spending too long on one painting under rapidly changing light is dangerous. It is much better when the effect is transitory, recording impressions in small sketches and relying upon them for the final painting.

Farm House in Winter  -  24"x 29"  -  Oil

What difficulties do you incur when painting outdoors in the winter?
Glare, reflected from the snow upon the canvas. A piece of black cloth spread out under the easel and the feet of the painter is some help, but even so the picture has to be painted on the palette. Unless the artist can judge the right color before it goes onto the canvas, he is lost.

Rockport in Winter  -  29.67"x 36.12"  -  Oil

What colors are found on your palette?
I seldom have more than eight or ten color on it, but they are not always the same colors. What pigments go on the palette today depend upon the subject to be painted. Tomorrow's picture may call for different blues, reds and yellows. I often mix in advance hues and values that I know I'll need. The less mixing on the spot the better. Everything has to be planned for speed when at work in the field.

New England Winter Landscape  -  36.25"x 36.25"  -  Oil 

Any advice for students?
There are fortunately many methods of painting, yet the average student is in search of one with a short cut and a fool-proof recipe whereby he cannot go wrong. To my way of thinking the fundamentals are first in order, then some guidance as to their usage follows. The rest, needless to say, is quite personal and a lifetime job. One should experiment, thereby possibly offering something new and valuable to the art world. It is an open field and what we make it.

For those that wish to try plein air painting, what do you recommend?
Avoid using nature photographically. It's necessary to make many adjustments when painting out of doors, that's what really makes painting interesting and not ordinary. On the other hand, be a close student of nature at all times. Make mental notes, written notes, keep track of it. It is all valuable reference. Compose on different-sized areas. Leave a reserve for the darkest darks and lightest lights. Try all mediums. Some days, just draw. Don't be afraid to use pigment. Lights demand it. Get color and vibrate it without mixing it too much. Beware of too much studio landscape painting. Direct contact gives you the rare things because accidental things are happening all the time outdoors. Be on the lookout for them and grab them. Notes taken on the spot are valuable and should not be tampered with. In sketching outdoors, get the essentials which denote the morning, afternoon or evening - whatever the time of day. Get that whether or not you have time for details.

Light Across the Valley  -  30"x 36"  -  Oil

I heard you believe in rotary painting, what is that?
Rotary painting is jumping all over the canvas, adjusting practically all the time. I try to avoid laboring too much on any one spot when parts of the canvas are not covered at all. Rotary motion means consistent flavor all over.

Thanks Aldro for an interesting interview.

I discovered that Stapleton Kearns did a very nice piece on Hibbard in one of his blogs. Here's the link.

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Blogger Vinayak Deshmukh said...

Thank you so much John. This is most informative and inspiring. Thank you for all the wonderful posts.

March 25, 2012 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger john pototschnik said...

Pleased you like it, Vinayak. There will be more such features in the future, so stay tuned.

March 26, 2012 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger LeonDoucette said...

What a beast. Thanks for sharing this!

May 23, 2012 at 3:31 PM  

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